Speaking about Al Jazeera and the eternal controversy on the channel..

..here you are a link to the  Global Voices online, talking about some Moroccans praising Al Jazeera for having hosted , during an episode of Ahmad Mansour‘s “Shahidun ala Asser”, an interview with former  political prisoner Ahmad el Marzouki speaking about secret prisons in Morocco…have a look: http://allal-cinemagoer.blogspot.com/2009/04/powerful-image-through-al-jazeera.html

Thoughts about the EU Parliament meeting on Arab media

The meeting about Arab media was hosted yesterday in the EU Parliament in Brussels thanks to the effort of PSE group.  Jamil Azzar -the one who created the Al Jazeera‘s motto “the opinion and counter opinion”- was there, and obiously was the one who received most comments, questions and critics. Al Jazeera is still an hot potato, even after 13 years of broadcast. I’ve been always thinking how strange and powerful is the fact that everybody has got an opinion about this TV station, even the ones who don’t understand Arabic. Many in the audience were still skeptical about AJ independence regarding Qatar and its policy, some of them praised the station for being the one who opened the way to free speech in Arab media, others -among them, a Lebanese from International Crisis Group– criticised the station for being too close to Hamas during the Israeli attack to Gaza of december 2008. He underlined that both Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya are following the “mass audience imperative” -focusing mostly on Panarab issues like Palestine and Iraq- while forgetting other dramatic crisis as the Sudan (he claimed International Crisis Group has been proposing Al Arabiya to broadcast footage and information from the country  for free for the past few years but they never accepted it-.

Ahmed Kamel, former head of Brussels bureau of Al Jazeera and author of the programme “Min Uroba” (From Europe), attacked the station for being linked to religious extremists and not being free from Islamists when it comes to its programmes.

The debate was also focused on the use of vocabulary: the eternal fight over the word “shahid” (martyr) used by Al Jazeera and by most of Arabic stations when it comes to people dying in Palestine under Israeli occupation. Kamel, who now works for BBC Arabic, didn’t agree at all with the use of this word, while Al Jazeera justifies it -only when it comes to Palestine- by claiming it is a “contextual word”, that is used only in the Israeli-Palestianian context.

I recently noticed in Damascus, when attending a panel about “objectivity in Arab media”, that the debate over “shahid” is not not only widespread in the Western world -where nobody understands what “shahid” really means and in which context the word is placed-. It also generated a very hot discussion in Damascus where -even if the majority of the audience was agreeing with using it for Palestine- some people openly declared that they disagree about it. Among them, the director of the new born Syrian channel, Orient (Mashrek) TV, based in Dubai.

The debate over Arab media is always very hot and I think we as Europeans will need  many years in order to discuss about this as a “normal” media system. There is still too much suspect, angryness, post-colonial imprinting when dealing with the topic.

Debates like the one hosted by the PSE group in the EU Parliament are really useful at least to have the two parts speaking one in front of each other, freely, without prejudice.

MBC’s Group content director, Badih Fattouh, and Hussein Amin from American University of Cairo were also present,bringing up to discussion respectively the topics of entertainment and of the Arab Charter to regulate satellite broadcasting in the Region.

After the panel, we screened some excerpts from my Rome Arab Tv festival, “West by Arab media”. I noticed that, once again, even in Brussels, the  “Irhab Academy” episode of the musalsal Tash Ma Tash is still the best welcomed by the audience.

If only Europeans were a little bit more ready to accept that the Arab world has got diversity and irony, too, maybe we could screen many other examples like Irhab Academy that would really take the debate over the Arab media at a deeper stage than Al Jazeera and terrorism only.

Alesco conference on technology and Arabic language starts tomorrow in Damascus

I am going to attend tomorrow this very interesting conference which has been co-organised by Alesco, King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology and the Arab Academy of Damascus.

The programme is very rich in contributions coming from all across the Arab world (there are also contributions from the US and France) touching important topics for the future development of Arabic content through new technologies and the Internet.  Issues like the terminology used for computer science will be widely discussed.

On the 28th at 9.45  Ziad Maraqa, Creative Commons’ co-lead in Jordan, will be delivering a speech about Creative Commons in the Arab world.

المنظمة العربية للتربية والثقافة والعلوم
مدينة الملك عبدالعزيز للعلوم والتقنية

بالتعاون مع مجمع اللغة العربية

اجتماع خبراء المحللات الصرفية الحاسوبية للغة العربية

دمشق 26-28/4/ 2009

جدول الأعمال المقترح

الأحد 26/4/2009

9.00-9.30            كلمات الافتتاح

9.30-10.15          المحلل الصرفي للغة العربية لمخبر” ميراكل”

تقديم د عبدالمجيد بن حمادو – تونس

10.15-11.00      محلل صرفي عربي موجه بالتطبيقات

تقديم د.محمد سعيد الدسوقي –  سوريا

11…-11.15      استراحة

11.15-12.00    محلل صرفي للكلمات العربية : خارج السياق وداخله

تقديم د.عزالدين مزروعي –  المغرب

12.00-12.45   محلل صرفي للغة العربية

تقديم د. ابراهيم خراشي  – السعودية

12.45-13.30  تصميم وتنفيذ محلل صرفي للغة العربية باستخدام تقانات
الذكاء الصنعي

د.فاضل سكر – د.سمر معطي  – سوريا

13.30-14.00  مناقشة عامة

استراحة الغذاء

16.00-17.00    واقع المحللات الصرفية الحاسوبية للغة العربية – د.سلوى

17.00-18.00   تقرير في المحللات الصرفية للغة العربية    – د.محمد زايد

الاثنين 27/4/2009

9.00-                       برنامج (مداد)للتحليل الصرفي للكلمات

تقديم عبدالمنعم فريد عبدالمنعم-محمود محمد
صابر    – مصر

9.45-10.30            محلل صرفي للغة العربية

تقديم المهندس مجدي صوالحة  – بريطانيا

ElixixirFM  Functional Arabic Morphology.case Studies

تشيكيا    Dr.Otakar Smrz

11.15-11.30      استراحة


Buckwalter Arabic Morphological Analyzer (BAMA) in Arabic Presentation

Authors: Tim Buckwalter (Qamus.org) and Nizar Habash (Columbia



محلل صرفي للغة العربية

Fathi Debili (Directeur de recherche)

Laboratoire LLACAN – UMR 8135 du CNRS

Langage, langues et cultures d’Afrique Noire -FRANCE

12.30-13.15 آليات  تقييم المحللات الصرفية

مقترح د.سلوى حمادة

13.15-13.45  آليات تقييم المحللات الصرفية

مقترح د.محمد سعيد الدسوقي

الثلاثاء 28/4/2009

9.00-9.45     حول المحللات الحاسوبية المشاركة في الاجتماع

الأستاذ مروان البواب

9.45-10.15   مفهوم تراخيص المشاع الابداعي لحماية حقوق المؤلف والترجمة

الأستاذ زياد مرقة  –  الاردن

10.15-11.00  مشروع أيه –سبل

القاموس العربي للتدقيق الاملائي مفتوح المصدر-تجربة

تقديم طه زروقي –  الجزائر

11.00-13.00      مناقشة التوصيات والتقرير الختامي

The EU according to Al Jazeera

Since the EU conference on Arab media is approaching (29 april in Brussels), I came to remember that I still haven’t published the link to the report The external image of the European Unionedited by Lorenzo Fioramonti and Sonia Lucarelli for Garnet.

This is a very broad report with many contributions analysing the main topic from different perspectives. I did the analysis on how Al Jazeera portrays the EU in its TV programmes and news. There were many interesting results that you can find published here:


On the same topic, we will soon publish a book for London based publisher Routledge, most probably in the second half of 2009.

Arab Media at the European Parliament in Brussels

For those of you who are in Brussels or not too far, here you are some info about the conference organised by PSE at the European Parliament to be held next 29 april. I am going to moderate the first session, starting at 4pm, with Al Jazeera, Mbc, American University of Cairo‘s keynotes. At the end of the session, I will also deliver a speech about the Internet and current web 2.0 situation in the Arab world.

Second panel is starting at 5.45 pm till7.15 and will be moderated by Beatrice Patrie, member of the PSE, featuring speeches of Deutsche Welle’s Dirk Beusch, BBC Arabic‘s Ahmad Kamel, Anna Lindht Foundation‘s Andreu Claret. Thomas McGrath from European Commission will also join the panel.

At the end of the debate, from 7.30 pm till 8.30 pm, there will be a TV screening of some Arab Tv programmes that I had selected for the festival “Occidente dai media arabi” held in Rome last january 2008.

There are lots of interesting TV materials, including musalsalat, everything subtitled in english.

The event is open to everybody, so pls circulate.

In room ASP, A3G3, European Parliament, Brussels.


More on Freedom Theatre/a message from Luisa Morgantini, vice president of the European Parliament

Luisa Morgantini, Vice Presidente del Parlamento Europeo, Strasburgo, 22 Aprile 2009:

“Vorrei esprimere tutto il mio sostegno e la mia solidarietà al teatro palestinese The Freedom Theatre del campo profughi di Jenin che è stato recentemente bersaglio di violenti attacchi, così come a Juliano Mer Khamis, il Direttore Generale dell’organizzazione, che è stato vittima di minacce di morte. Apprezzo profondamente il lavoro culturale e l’impegno sociale del Freedom Theatre a Jenin: sono convinta che le loro attività – rafforzando la cultura palestinese e coinvolgendo i giovani in modo creativo- siano una parte fondamentale della resistenza non-violenta, essenziale per preservare la speranza e contrastare l’occupazione militare israeliana che dura ormai da oltre 40 anni. Per questo mi sento davvero onorata di essere parte del board del teatro e condanno fortemente questi attacchi e minacce che provengono da gruppi del campo profughi che mostrano arroganza e volontà di dominazione e che commettono un grande errore nel considerare il teatro, il cinema e la musica come fattori distruttivi nella lotta (non-violenta) palestinese per la liberazione. Come già richiesto dal Freedom Theatre durante una conferenza stampa il 20 aprile scorso, chiedo all’Autorità Palestinese e a chiunque condivida i valori della libertà di espressione di fare tutto il possibile per permettere al teatro di continuare a vivere. Spero veramente che nessun altro attacco venga rivolto al Freedom Theatre, ma che , al contrario, tutti gli sforzi saranno impiegati – nel campo profughi di Jenin così come nell’intero Territorio Occupato Palestinese- per raggiungere l’unità e la coesione di intenti, lottando uniti in modo più efficace in un movimento di resistenza non-violenta sempre più grande, contro l’occupazione e per la libertà e l’indipendenza in uno Stato Palestinese democratico.

Info: Luisa Morgantini, +39 348 39 21 465; +39 06 69 95 02 17 luisa.morgantini@europarl.europa.eu; luisamorgantini.net http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/

Press Release 21 April 2009

The Show Must Go On

The Freedom Theatre denies the report in Haaretz newspaper, stating that Zacharia Zubeidi has been appointed the director of the organisation. Juliano Mer Khamis, together with his friends and partners, continue their work as the management of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp. On Monday 20 April 2009 a press conference was held in Jenin in response to the recent violent attacks on The Freedom Theatre as well as a death threat directed at Juliano Mer Khamis, the organisation’s General Director. These attacks and threats against the theatre come from small reactionary groups in the camp displaying narrow, racist interests, and considering theatre, cinema and music as destructive factors in the Palestinian struggle for liberation. In this press conference, The Freedom Theatre called upon Zacharia Zubeidi and all supporters of the organisation to take clear action to protect it from these forces. Hundreds of inhabitants of Jenin Camp are visiting the theatre in an act of solidarity and support. They believe, as we do, that the future of our Palestinian society lies in the possibility to rebuild our culture, which was crushed by the chains of Israeli tanks.