SHAFAQNA-- People in some Arab countries appear to be divided when it comes to trusting the credibility of their national news agencies, according to the results of a recently conducted survey of media habits in the region.
Preliminary results of the survey, released on Wednesday during a session of the Qatar Media Industries Forum in Doha, showed that a majority of adults in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates believed their news media to be "credible".
However, in Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia, only a quarter of those surveyed trusted the credibility of their media outlets, according to results of the survey of nearly 10,000 adults conducted by Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q).
"This is a particularly interesting phenomenon in Lebanon, as this is thought to be a country with 'free press'", Everette Dennis, dean and CEO of NU-Q, said in a statement.
Over a four-month period, researchers from Harris Interactive surveyed 9,693 adults in eight Arab countries - Egypt, Qatar, Tunisia, Bahrain, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the UAE - in an effort to show how people use media, particularly news media, following the "Arab Spring" that began in 2011.
Kerry Hill, a research director at Harris Interactive, described the survey as “the largest study in the region for public release on media use”.
Freedom of expression
The research highlighted a seeming paradox: A majority in most of the countries surveyed said they thought people should have the freedom to express their opinions on the internet, even when these views are unpopular. An especially high number in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates agreed.
Yet at the same time, about half of respondents also said they support tighter regulation of the internet in their countries, with a somewhat higher percentage saying so in Qatar, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia.
Humphrey Taylor, the chairman of the Harris Poll, said it is “very common to find this kind of apparent contradiction” - noting that in the United States during the Cold War, large majorities said they supported the principle of freedom of speech, yet objected to allowing speech supporting Communism.
The Gulf gap
The survey data highlighted a big gap between the wealthy Gulf countries and less affluent Arab nations to the west. Overwhelming majorities in the Gulf have internet access, including about 9 in 10 people in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. But just 46 percent are connected in Jordan and 22 percent in Egypt. (Yemen has the lowest internet penetration rates in the region: a scant 2 percent, according to a 2011 Gallup poll.)
Egypt and the small island state of Bahrain are close to polar opposites in terms of media habits. Hill described Egypt as “very media-poor, with the exception of TV” - whereas Bahrainis are voracious consumers of all types of media, with large numbers saying they use social media sites and read books, magazines, and newspapers.
When asked about the top news sources they consume, about a quarter of those across the region named Al Jazeera, followed by Saudi Arabia-based Al Arabiya at 16 percent and social networking website Facebook at 10 percent.
Google was found to be the most popular news source among Bahrainis, Facebook among Tunisians, LBC among Lebanese, Al Hayat among Egyptians, and Al Arabiya in Saudi Arabia. Al Jazeera topped the list in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – This scene and other religious and ethnic practices set China’s Muslim minorities apart from the rest of the population, and the differences frequently led to clashes with the government in the past.
But now, the country’s leaders are embracing the large Muslim population in this remote and relatively undeveloped city in the northwestern province of Ningxia, hoping that frozen packs of halal meat produced here can help build economic bridges with the Middle East, according to a report in Washington Post.
With the U.S. and European economies still recovering, the Arab world is an increasingly enticing market for Chinese exports and a potential source of investors for Chinese projects.
Middle Eastern countries are also some of the closest positioned to help develop China’s western provinces, which have fallen far behind its flourishing eastern coastal cities during the past three decades of economic boom.
Perhaps most important, on a strategic level, China wants to protect and strengthen its access to the Middle East’s oil and energy resources, which are fueling the country’s economic growth.
“The short-term goal of increasing halal meat going to Arab countries is to build up our local economy and workforce,” said one provincial official here, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the strategy of central authorities.
“But the real goal is to introduce the Arab world to us and get them comfortable with the idea of building up their relations and investment in China. . . . And energy is not the only reason behind it, but it is a big one.” China’s government has thrown considerable diplomatic and political resources during the past five years into building up Middle East ties.
Lavish conferences have been sponsored across the country, ethnic festivals held to celebrate Chinese Muslims’ heritage, and trade delegations sent out from both sides, including two visits to Saudi Arabia by outgoing Chinese President Hu Jintao.
The most recent large-scale event — an economic forum that included high-level dignitaries from China and the United Arab Emirates — took place this fall in Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia. In private conversations on the sidelines, Chinese officials described an overall strategy of outreach to the Middle East that was laid out in broad terms by central authorities, then planned and executed in more detail by local officials.
The efforts appear to have produced some positive results. Last year, Sino-Arab trade increased by 35 percent to $196 billion, according to Chinese officials, and in the first half of this year, trade rose 22 percent over the same period in 2011, to $111.8 billion.
The Sino-Arab trade remains dominated by oil, but Chinese exports such as textiles and home appliances have made a strong showing, according to limited data released by Chinese officials.
The decision by central authorities to make Ningxia a focal point for bridge-building efforts aimed at the Middle East gave local business leaders a much-needed boost of hope. It is hard to find a province more in need of development. A desert region largely left behind during China’s economic boom, Ningxia has the country’s third-smallest gross domestic product and few exports that it can rely on besides a fruit called wolfberry.
One thing it does have in abundance, however, are Muslims. Two million members of the predominantly Muslim ethnic minority called Hui live here, making up a third of the province’s population. The Hui are thought to be descendants of Arab and Persian traders going back to the ancient days of the Silk Road.
Local officials are starting small, with exports of such products as halal meat. But there are ambitious — and perhaps overly optimistic — plans to eventually turn the province into a gleaming financial hub for trade with the Arab world.
At the Yinshun company’s slaughterhouse and meat factory on the outskirts of town, Vice General Manager Yang Li, an ethnic Hui, described the company’s goals as largely profit-driven but also patriotic and cultural.
Almost half the staff are Hui, and the company follows strict Islamic rules about what their cows and sheep eat and drink, when slaughter can be performed and under what conditions. The factory, which is two years old, has hosted high-level dignitaries from Muslim countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.
But there have been some obstacles to increasing its exports, chief among them getting its halal meat certified under the byzantine and often-protectionist national laws of many Arab states. Yinshun, for instance, shipped 125 tons of halal meat last year to the Middle East, but it is in pursuit of deals that could increase that figure more than 10 times over, officials said.
Although Chinese officials have talked about their hope to diversify trade with the region, the lion’s share of Sino-Arab trade still consists of oil. Similarly, the long-term goal of luring investors from the Middle East has been slow to materialize, several officials from both sides acknowledged.
“It’s true there’s still not much investment coming from Arabic countries,” said Nazha Aschenbrenner, director of a trade initiative created by the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Trade. Highlighting the shared Muslim culture and religion in places such as Ningxia helps, she said. But, ultimately, business decisions come down to money.- www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Arab states of the Persian Gulf always accused Iran of interfering in their inside affairs.
The officials of Arab states of the Persian Gulf always accused Iran of interfering in their inside affairs, reported Taqrib News Agency (TNA).
The Recent meeting of Manama was not an exception and the same story happening in the foresaid meeting, the participants condemned Iran for the so called interference in the inside affairs.
The considerable point about this case is that these people have never determined the nature of Iran’s interference and without any evidence condemned Islamic Republic of Iran.
If we want to scrutinize the issues these countries proposed to corroborate their claims we observe that Iran have perpetrated none of them.
Has Islamic Republic of Iran helped opposition groups in those countries?
Has Isalmic Republic of Iran granted asylum to hoods and criminals from Arabian countries?
Has Isalmic Republic of Iran sent troops and forces to these countries, so as to increase chaos there?
Has Islamic Republic of Iran resorted to military operations in those countries?
Has Islamic Republic of Iran flouted the laws and regulations of these Arabian countries?
If this country has not committed none of these claims and issues, then what do these Arab countries mean by the concept of interference?
The only position the authorities and officials of Islamic Republic of Iran have chosen is publishing the events happening in these countries.
These countries are accustomed to repudiate all the demonstrations and protest happening in their lands and block all the possible opening for publishing the news.
In addition these countries bar people from forming political parties and all the media in those countries should abide by the rules of their governments.
The silver point is that Iran is not the cause of chaos and events in these countries, for instance Islamic Republic of Iran never urged people to participant in the anti-governmental protests in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia or other Arabian countries.
The only Iran’s movement is showing the real events happening in Arabian countries and publishing the news of chaos in those countries.
Moreover, Islamic Republic of Iran never urged opposition groups to hold demonstration for collapsing governments in Arabian countries; on the contrary, Iranian officials tried to help these governments to solve their standing problems and through the negotiations, provide solutions to the existing showdowns and conflicts in these countries.
But the question is that those countries, who are opposed against publishing events, have not really published those lies and accusations against Islamic Republic of Iran?
Haven’t they tried to increase chaos in this country through projecting the wrong image of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s government?
Why do they go into a paroxysm of anger when they observe the events happening in their lands published by Iranian media while they do not slam at the policy of some western counties and human rights organizations when they condemn the crimes happening in these Arabian countries?
Why Arab states of the Persian Gulf condemn Islamic Republic of Iran but not those organizations.
It seems that these countries can change the policy and position of these Arabian countries and international organizations through signing different agreements such as buying weapons; but all the attempts of these countries for stopping Iran from publishing events frustrated and they cannot change this position chosen by Iranian officials.- www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – At least five pornographic websites are among Egypt’s 100 most frequently visited online destinations this year, according to Alexa, a division of Amazon.com that tracks online traffic patterns globally.
The statistic proves particularly significant as Egyptian web surfers may soon be stripped of all access to Internet pornography sites.
Egypt’s Prosecutor General ordered the government’s ministries of telecommunications, interior and information to begin enforcing a ban on online porn last week.
The five most visited porn sites in Egypt rank at numbers 15, 23, 29, 67, 83, with two X-rated sites appearing in the country’s top 25 most-browsed sites, the Anaween Arabic news website reported.
Similarly, there are seven pornographic sites in Tunisia that appear among the top 100 most visited sites, coming in at numbers 14, 16 and 20 and 49 60 and 93 and 97.
In Lebanon, the five most visited sites appear later down the list of 100, at numbers 33, 34, 45 and 52 and 58.
Pornography is not permitted throughout the Arab Muslim world, though previously in Egypt, and some other nations, the state has not actively tried to prevent access to online sites.
In Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, no pornographic sites appear on the list top 100 most-visited sites due to a filtering policy which block the sites, as is the case in most countries in the Gulf.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the illegal sanctions that the European Union (EU) has imposed on the Islamic Republic are akin to double-edged sword which has left Europe worse off.
In a press conference with Kuwaiti journalists on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad said Iran has had no economic ties with the US over the past 33 years so the current sanctions actually target European countries.
Noting that he EU is currently on the verge of collapse, the Iranian president added, “They (European countries) have, in their own terms, boycotted Iran for five years. But the question is whether it is the economic situation in Iran or Europe which is in bad conditions today?”
The EU foreign ministers on Monday agreed on a new round of sanctions against Iran, in spite of a UN warning against the humanitarian ramifications of the previous bans.
The illegal sanctions were imposed based on the unfounded allegation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Iran rejects the allegations and argues that as a committed signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of International Atomic Energy Agency, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Ahmadinejad said the hostilities against the Islamic Republic began when the Iranian nation toppled the Western-backed regime of the Shah of Iran in 1979 and the West has since used every excuse for enmity against the country.
He added that using the nuclear issue as an excuse for hostility against Iran is a “historic mistake” as those who have tried to eliminate Iran, throughout its seven-thousand-year history, have been destroyed themselves and the Iranian nation still stands.
The Iranians will resist the sanctions and Iran has a very large economy that can manage without oil so “the arrogant powers have no choice but to change the situation,” Ahmadinejad said.
“The arrogant powers want to take revenge on the Iranian nation through the imposition of sanctions, but they will certainly fail.”— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — A state of deep confusion still haunts the Israeli occupation leadership after the strategic achievement represented by Hezbollah’s "Ayyoub" drone flight over the southern part of occupied Palestine. A battle of accusations is being traded among different military and security divisions as to whom the blame should be directed in this new Israeli failure.
After the devastating blows that the Syrian army has dealt to the terrorist groups, it has been noticed that Turkey has increased its involvement in the Syrian crisis. This new attitude was attributed according to some analysts to Turkey's plan to support the military groups’ morals and to busy the Syrian troops to ease the pressure around the rebels.
During a meeting for Western states’ ambassador and after they tackled the Syrian issue, one of the ambassadors asked whether his other colleagues think President Bashar Al-Assad would be toppled. No one raised his hand…— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — U.S. embassies in at least seven countries in the Middle East, Africa and the Caucasus are warning of possible anti-American protests following the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.
The embassies in Armenia, Burundi, Kuwait, Sudan, Tunisia and Zambia, along with the embassy in Egypt, which was hit by a protest on Tuesday, all issued warnings on Wednesday advising Americans to be particularly vigilant.
The warnings, posted on the embassies' websites, do not report any specific threat to Americans but note that demonstrations can become violent.
The protest in Cairo and the attack in Benghazi appear to have been responses to an inflammatory anti-Muslim video posted on the Internet.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — For many low-income Americans, Internet access is a luxury they can't afford.
Too bad they don't live in South Korea.
By the end of this year, South Koreans will have access to Internet speeds that are more than 200 times faster than what most Americans have, and they can have it for just $27 a month, or slightly more than half the average price Americans pay.
South Korea is among several countries where people can find speedier and cheaper Internet access than in the United States, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It's also a place where nearly everyone is online. More than 94 percent of South Koreans have high-speed connections -- compared with about 70 percent in the United States, according to the OECD.
As Democrats convene this week in Charlotte and outline their plan to jumpstart the economy, an important tool for implementing that strategy -- high-speed Internet connectivity -- is missing in the homes of millions of Americans. Many experts say a blueprint for expanding Internet access in America can be found abroad, where several countries have increased Internet adoption by regulating Internet service or declaring Internet access a legal right.
About 100 million people, or one third of the country, lack home access to broadband Internet, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). A fast, reliable Web connection has become a vital platform for finding jobs, starting a small business, accessing online education, and helping Americans compete in a global economy.
One of the biggest reasons people give for not subscribing to high-speed Internet is that it's too expensive. In 2010, the average monthly broadband bill was $40. That’s up from $34.50 in May 2008, according to surveys conducted by the FCC and Pew Research Center.
Internet providers say comparisons between the United States and other countries are flawed. But consumer groups argue that other countries offer better deals -- and have greater levels of Internet adoption -- because there is more competition in the market. Experts say the FCC should create policies which would ensure more companies compete to provide Internet service and keep prices low.
HuffPost Live will be taking a comprehensive look at the persistence of poverty in America Sept. 5 from 12-4 p.m. EDT and 6-10 p.m. EDT. Click here to check it out -- and join the conversation.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the countries supplying arms to Syria are only increasing the misery in the country.
“This conflict has taken a particularly brutal turn. The continuing militarization of the conflict is deeply tragic and highly dangerous,” Ban told the 193-member UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.
"Those who provide arms to either side are only contributing to further misery -- and the risk of unintended consequences as the fighting intensifies and spreads," he said.
"The conflict is intensifying," Ban added. "The longer it goes on, the more difficult it will be to contain. The more difficult it will be to find a political solution. The more challenging it will be to rebuild the country and the economy.”
"How many children will attend the funerals of their parents; how many parents will weep at the funerals of their children, before all parties agree to end the violence and destruction?" the UN chief stated.
“The Syrian people have waited too long," Ban said. "And now the entire region is being engulfed by the complex dynamics of the conflict.”
The UN secretary general said there had to be a greater international effort to end the conflict in Syria and the humanitarian and refugee crisis in and around Syria.
"Regional leaders have a key role to play in creating the conditions conducive to a solution," Ban stated.
He also appealed for more money for a UN fund for Syria, saying, "The humanitarian situation is grave and deteriorating both in Syria and in neighboring countries affected by the crisis."
Ban stated that the UN has asked for $180 million but has only received half this amount so far.
"The most pressing needs are water and sanitation, shelter, essential items such as blankets and hygiene kits, as well as emergency medical assistance," Ban said.
The new UN-Arab League mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi, also briefly addressed the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
"The death toll is staggering, the destruction is reaching catastrophic proportions and the suffering is immense," Brahimi said.
He added, "I am looking forward to my visit to Damascus in a few days time, and… to all the countries that are in a position to help the Syrian-led political process become a reality."
On Tuesday, Syria's ambassador to the UN said that Damascus is “open-minded and fully committed to the mission of Mr. Brahimi in his endeavors to put an end to violence and find a Syrian-led political solution to the crisis."
“I'm calling on all member states, particularly those with direct influence… on the parties rejecting political dialogue and the cessation of violence, I'm calling on them to follow in the footsteps of the government of Syria and seriously extend a helping hand to Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi," Ambassador Bashar al-Ja'afari added.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011.
Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factor behind the unrest and deadly violence while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country and accuses Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey of arming the opposition.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Friday Prayer Leader of Ahvaz, Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Ali Mousavi Jazayeri pointed to the sagacious speech of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the 16th Summit of Non-aligned Movement(NAM) and underscored that Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei’s remarks has a special place among political leaders and officials, reported Taqrib News Agency (TNA).
The Islamic scholar pointed to the impressive effect of holding the 16th Summit of Non-aligned Movement(NAM) in Tehran and said the Summit provided a great opportunity for the Islamic Revolution of Iran and it was actually the commence of a fundamental and basic new policy around the world.
He wished that leaders and officials from different countries would stand against the arrogant powers and foil the collusions of western countries.
Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Ali Mousavi Jazayeri also appreciated Iranian painstaking effort for holding such efficient and expedient Summit.—www.shafaqna.com/English