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Jailed Al Jazeera Journalist Is Actually Kind of a Dick
May 4, 2014 8:49 PM   Subscribe

Jailed Al Jazeera Journalist Is Actually Kind of a Dick by Jason Mojica (Vice News)
This may surprise you, but Mohammed Fahmy, the imprisoned Al Jazeera English journalist who on Friday was awarded the World Press Freedom Award, is actually kind of a dick.

And I’m sure he feels the same way about me.

[...]

... He said he wanted to write a story about it, and asked for quotes from us. I declined ... I asked him as a favor to please not make a big deal about it, and if he did feel that he had to write something, to please just leave our names out of it.

He ran the story, names and all, which pissed me off. We traded shitty BBMs back and forth, and I came away thinking of him as a pushy, bull-headed bastard who cared more about getting a story out than for the people who that story was about.

In other words, a damn good journalist.

[...]

That the belligerent actions of journalists are met with an equal and opposite reaction is understandable. Why would you make it easy for someone to make your life more difficult? But it’s the overreaction to journalism—censorship, imprisonment, and violence — that reveal a country’s true colors. We need to start asking if governments that aren’t grown up enough to be able to handle a little bad press ought to be allowed to play with guns. Or rather, allowed to receive generous military aid.

Right now, rather than pushing for the release of Fahmy and the other Al Jazeera journalists, the Obama administration is pushing for the release of $650 million in military aid to the Egyptian government. The same government that has imprisoned Fahmy, Greste, and Mohamed since December 2013, and today — on World Press Freedom Day —denied them bail.
posted by Golden Eternity (29 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
As I understand it, the US is in the middle of a lot of shit. They pretty much give money to certain countries because try have given some to their sworn enemies. It isn't a good plan, but to keep the time bomb from going off, they need to keep giving money. So putting US aid to Egypt in perspective to this is kinda unfair.

But yeah, seriously, jailing journalists is like shooting medical staff. Kinda a war crime.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:00 PM on May 4


We need more people waving their hands on the air and drawing attention to bad behaviour by governments, corporations and created interests. I'll put up with some dickish behaviour if we can curtail some of theirs.
posted by arcticseal at 9:12 PM on May 4


That's not [more inside.] Those are excerpts from the article.

More:

"... Mohammed Fahmy, the imprisoned Al Jazeera English journalist who on Friday was awarded the World Press Freedom Award, is actually kind of a dick. ...

...

" ... rather than pushing for the release of Fahmy and the other Al Jazeera journalists, the Obama administration is pushing for the release of $650 million in military aid to the Egyptian government."

etc. etc.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:23 PM on May 4 [8 favorites]


The article would have more impact if it appeared to be written by someone over 12.
posted by quarsan at 10:27 PM on May 4 [10 favorites]


US military aid to Egypt is actually in the interests of the USA; there is no prospect that it will be cut off. The last thing Obama needs to do is issue more empty threats.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:28 PM on May 4


We need to start asking if governments that aren’t grown up enough to be able to handle a little bad press ought to be allowed to play with guns. Or rather, allowed to receive generous military aid

What naive prattle. As if those two things have, or have ever had, any impact at all on where and why the US gives money.

I find the "allowed to play with guns" rhetoric both racist and patronising.

It shouldn't need mentioning, of course I oppose this detention.
posted by smoke at 12:35 AM on May 5


the 650 million dollars is a residue of camp david, where jimmy carter bribed israel and egypt to make nice because he needed a diplomatic coup. the american taxpayer is losing his/her ability and willingness to buy peace everywhere in the world. it's like we're paying protection money on somebody else's store. if they can't get along, let 'em fight, let 'em die and see if i care. less carrot, more stick.

lol@smoke's "patronising", paying 650 million dollars for a chicken dinner makes you the very essence of a patron, and you get to go on record as to whether the chicken was tender and juicy or not.

i also oppose this detention.
posted by bruce at 1:09 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


The reason the US got involved in Camp David was because of the Suez Canal, which has immense strategic and economic importance. It's not the easiest thing to defend from guerrilla attacks and it is very much in the USA's interest to remind Egypt how important it is. Furthermore, the Sinai Peninsula is huge and almost indefensible, and backs onto various places that the USA is presently fighting in. It would be a catastrophe if Egypt stopped patrolling it, because it's practically a back-door route into the Mediterranean. So Egypt's army is actually spending a lot of its resources on things that disproportionately benefit the USA and the rest of the world, and it wouldn't be hard for it to back away from its obligations.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:41 AM on May 5 [8 favorites]


Since when is the appropriateness of American policy determined by what's strategically good for the United States? Are we ready to grant that kind of moral autonomy to, say, Iran, Palestine, Russia, etc.?
posted by jwhite1979 at 2:19 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


joe, everything you said is true except for the word "catastrophe", but you didn't tell the whole story. the underlying imperative is america's access to oil and gas, and we've configured the middle east for a long time to secure this, and we need to stop. we have our own reserves, and we can always exploit canada, which is so far too polite to object.

the 800-pound gorilla that hasn't been mentioned yet is the american arms industry, which loves this shit. selling arms to all sides is sufficiently profitable to buy congresspeople who will vote in favor of more conflict. i don't like this, there isn't anything i can do, but at least my own congressman peter defazio is a pretty good guy and i'm gonna vote for him again. you know the big names in arms sales, but what you might not be aware of is that there are a lot of small names too, personal anecdote upcoming...

way back in the day i knew another small-town lawyer who was also an arms dealer. behind the desk in his office was a big map of the world with pins stuck in it in one of three colors. green he could sell to, yellow was iffy and red was no. the barriers to entry of this lucrative field are lower than you think. i could be an international arms dealer if i wanted, but i prefer fishing and gardening.
posted by bruce at 2:22 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


The article would have more impact if it appeared to be written by someone over 12.

Hi, welcome to Vice.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:33 AM on May 5 [8 favorites]


but you didn't tell the whole story. the underlying imperative is america's access to oil and gas

This is simply not true - or at least so reductionist as to be absurd - with regards to US support of Egypt.

Joe knows what he is talking about here. In addition to Suez, other reasons include Egypt's proximity and relations with Israel, "secular" status, proximity to Yemen, and much more. Egypt has no oil or gas, and nor does it function as a transition state for it, except via Suez. Further it has very, very, very little influence with the oil states of the middle east.
posted by smoke at 4:45 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


A comment doesn't become racist just because it's directed at people who aren't white, and the Egyptian government probably doesn't need anyone to pull out the race card on their behalf.

It's clear the US government does what it does solely for economic interests. It's a sad day if it's naive to ask that the US also uses its power to protect freedom - like we say we do on TV.
posted by c10h12n2 at 5:09 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


This guys sounds a lot like our American journalist Brian Williams who puts his million dollar mansion, lifestyle and salary on the line every night to speak truth to power and give the American public a transparent view of who is really running our government.
posted by any major dude at 5:18 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


What Smoke said, but also: the Red Sea is an international route for ships coming from Asia to the Mediterranean. If you look at a map it's the body of water that runs between Africa and Saudi Arabia, before heading into the Suez Canal. A ship passing up the Red Sea passes Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia before it gets to Egypt.

Suppose you wanted to bring a shipment of surface-air missiles into Europe. One way to do it would be to acquire them from Iran, possibly mediated by a militia group in Yemen or Sudan, and load them onto one of the many cargo boats going up the Red Sea. Offload them onto the Sinai Peninsula and take them overland to North Sinai. A lot of the coast there is basically empty, and you'd have a good chance taking them from there by boat to anywhere in the Mediterranean. This isn't just hypothetical: Israel's navy intercepted a large weapons shipment in the Red Sea a few months ago. It was allegedly going to be smuggled into Gaza, but it would have been just as easy to take it elsewhere.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:19 AM on May 5


Remember - modern crude carriers can't really transit the suez. Modern Container ships can't either.
posted by JPD at 5:42 AM on May 5


The article would have more impact if it appeared to be written by someone over 12.

That (mildly) shocking headline got me to click on the link, and I probably wouldn't have had it just been another story about detained Al Jazeera journalists. The rest of the article didn't seem that objectionable, and I prefer it to the almost Basic English style of a lot of American newspapers.

Like it or not, I'd wager Vice gets a lot more people looking at this sort of news than, for instance, USA Today. In fact, searching USA Today for Mohammed/Mohamed Fahmy doesn't get much about the case. The most recent article is from March 2014 and only mentions the case in a short paragraph at the end of a relatively unrelated article (← warning autoplaying video with sound): "On Monday, a Cairo court resumed the trial of journalists with the Qatari-owned television network Al Jazeera. Australian Peter Greste, local journalist Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy, who is Egyptian-Canadian, appeared in court after being jailed for three months on charges of spreading false news and aiding the Brotherhood."

My standard response when this type of media criticism comes up is that I'm glad that journalism is so diverse that it can include Hunter Thompson, Vice, Grantland, USA Today, the Today Show, and just-the-facts AP wire briefs, on the same spectrum. Different styles of reporting reach different audiences and inform readers/viewers of different things, and I think that's a good thing.

Just don't get me started on Upworthy headlines....I've got to draw a line somewhere. This Vice headline is similar to clickbait headlines, but different enough from the inspirational/affirming style of Upworthy, et al., that it got me to click through.
posted by msbrauer at 6:26 AM on May 5 [5 favorites]


Since when is the appropriateness of American policy determined by what's strategically good for the United States?

1776 or thereabouts.

Are we ready to grant that kind of moral autonomy to, say, Iran, Palestine, Russia, etc.?

Anyone who doesn't think that those countries are driven by their own understanding of what is in their strategic best interest is a fool. Many of those countries at least have the honesty to come right out and say it, too.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:27 AM on May 5


I think we should thank Egypt for locking up journalists, thereby keeping the world safe for democracy.

Edit: for something.
posted by Mister Bijou at 7:23 AM on May 5


1776 or thereabouts.
I was going to add that parenthetically to my remark but then decided not to. By "appropriateness" I wasn't referring to what Washington thinks is appropriate, but what might be deemed appropriate by a less partial arbiter.

Anyone who doesn't think that those countries are driven by their own understanding of what is in their strategic best interest is a fool. Many of those countries at least have the honesty to come right out and say it, too.

Clearly. But Iran saying it's in their best interest to arm Hamas and Russia saying it's in their best interest to invade their neighbors doesn't compel the international community to condone their plans. Likewise, US military aid to Egypt, whether or not it's in our best interest, might not be in the best interest of Egyptians, nor any other citizenry of the region which is aspiring to a level of self-determination.
posted by jwhite1979 at 7:24 AM on May 5




TODAY ON VICE. ON METAFILTER.
posted by Big_B at 9:10 AM on May 5


Abdullah Elshamy [Al-Jazeera journalist], "on hunger strike in notorious Tora prison, is one of at least 16,000 held since Morsi's overthrow last year."
posted by Mister Bijou at 10:04 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


Elshamy has been held without charge in Egyptian custody for 265 days...
posted by Mister Bijou at 10:06 AM on May 5


we can always exploit canada, which is so far too polite to object.

Cliched jokes aside, I think Canadian oil is already flowing out as fast as the US can throw investment dollars and pipeline capacity in.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:59 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


even bad people catch bad people sometimes.....
posted by eggtooth at 7:09 PM on May 6




Egyptian judge wishes al-Jazeera trio a happy Press Freedom Day then refuses bail

State Dept Launches 'Free the Press' Campaign While DOJ Asks Supreme Court to Force Reporter James Risen Into Jail
posted by homunculus at 8:33 PM on May 7


Lee Smith at The Tablet makes an argument for cosying up to Egypt's government: Egypt Is on the Brink of Chaos. Here’s Why It Should Matter to Washington.

There's a logical gap in the argument, though: I think it's unarguable that it would be an international catastrophe if Egypt fell into civil war and/or became a "failed state". And I think it's very likely that Egypt presently has no better leader than al-Sisi. But that doesn't mean that supporting him will prevent catastrophe, or even that it will make things better than otherwise. It's a big problem, and I have no idea what the solution might be.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:09 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


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