IPJ Connects With Alhurra, VOA & MEI

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Alhurra Executive Vice President Mouafac Harb receives IPJ Director Magda Abu-Fadil.

Alhurra newsroom.

Abu-Fadil tours Alhurra TV studios and facilities in suburban Virginia.

Abu-Fadil flanked by Middle East Institute president, retired Ambassador Edward S. Walker, Jr., and director of communications and outreach Laurie Kassman.

They have a message and are not shy to broadcast it to the Arab/Muslim world, said Alhurra TV channel’s executive vice president and network news director Mouafac Harb.

The message includes democratization, freedom and human rights, he told Institute for Professional Journalists director Magda Abu-Fadil who visited the station’s facilities outside Washington, D.C., in July 2005.

The channel has its share of critics and admirers in the U.S. and Arab world, but despite its relatively small size, it is able to attract international attention. Critics claim it’s a mouthpiece for the U.S. government, while supporters point out it is part of a non-profit corporation called The Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc. that was created by an act of Congress and financed by the U.S. Government through a grant from the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

According to Alhurra officials, its staffers are not government employees, but it is no coincidence that the channel’s policies are very similar to those of the George W. Bush U.S. administration.

Alhurra, meaning “The Free One”, is a 24-hour Arabic-language satellite channel airing programs to viewers across the Middle East. It is meant to counterbalance the ever-present Dubai-based Al Arabiya and Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, which have often been accused by Washington officials of presenting biased or inaccurate news and views.

Alhurra’s mission, a fact sheet states, is to broadcast “accurate, timely and relevant news and information about the region, the world and the United States to a broad, Arabic-speaking audience, and, thereby, to advance freedom and democracy in the Middle East and long-term U.S. national interests.”

While in Washington, Abu-Fadil also visited and toured the Voice of America, another organization funded by the U.S. Government, which broadcasts radio programs in 44 languages and television shows in 23 languages to worldwide audiences.

A brief stop in the U.S. capital during a stateside trip included a visit to the International Center for Journalists, the Arab-American Institute and the Middle East Institute. Abu-Fadil met with MEI’s president, retired Ambassador Edward Walker, and its communications and outreach director Laurie Kassman.

Since 1946, the Middle East Institute has been an important conduit of information between Middle Eastern nations and American policymakers, organizations and the public.

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