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'Deutsche Welle Arabic' dominated by pro-Assad lobby- Opinion

Opinion | 2020-07-09 11:41:47
'Deutsche Welle Arabic' dominated by pro-Assad lobby- Opinion
 By Michael Shammas

 (Zaman Al Wasl)- The ambiguous position of the German channel Deutsche Welle in regards to the Syrian revolution, reveals a bias toward the Syrian regime and its regional allies, such as Lebanese Hezbollah militia, despite what some channel operators say about their objectivity regarding the revolution since its very first eruption.

The Arabic-spoken channel's bias is perceived through different positions taken in response to certain events. The fact that the Assad regime is called the Syrian government should itself be sufficient to prove the channel’s political Bias. 

  Aktham Suleiman is a regular host in the DW as an independent and unbiased voice. The longer Suleiman speaks the easier it is to detect his association with the regime.  His participation in pro-regime demonstrations in Germany further proves his loyalty to Bashar al-Assad's regime. 

Personal positions, and political biases of some officials of the channel implicitly influence and determine who should be hosted in it. Followers of the channel ask why they do not host Syrian human rights activists, such as well-known lawyer Anwar al-Bunni or lawyer Ibrahim al-Qasim, a spokesman for the Caesar Files Collection in order to highlight the crimes committed in Syria and discuss the cases and trials taking place in Germany against perpetrators of torture, murder and rape in Syrian detention centers? The channel is suspected of having the intention to marginalize the presence of Syrian human rights activists in order to back Assad's allegations that those who oppose him are nothing but terrorists.




 The officials of the Arabic department seem to have a veto on the presence of human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni. The DW English, however, has previously hosted him more than once as documented in his work report and in the report of his human rights activities in Berlin.

A while ago, the Arabic section of the channel presented a video report on the Syrian activist Fadwa Al-Mahmoud, wife of the well-known dissident, Dr. Abdel-Aziz Al-Khair,  a Syrian intellectual was reported missing in 2012 by Assad security.

Comments on social media showed a great surprise to watch such a report. 

“Finally one decent report about the opposition in years long of silence! Keep it up.” 

"This is the first time that you air a report that is in the interest of the Syrians and their cause. How strange.”

 “Finally something decent and truthful to watch on your channel.”

Another example for the bias of the DW Arabic is the way it covered the Decree 10 issued by the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, on April 2, 2018. Despite the gravity of this decree and its negative effect on the property of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in Germany, the channel did not mention it.  National and international Media highlighted the seriousness of this decree immediately upon its announcement while the Arab section did not mention it until after a few weeks had passed, and until its importance faded away. This incident gave the channel followers a wake-up call to notice the channel’s inherent political engines.  

Many of the channel's followers are surprised by the belittling of the ongoing trial in Koblins related to two Syrian intelligence agents accused of murder, torture and rape against Syrians belonging to Branch 251, known as the Khatib Branch of the State Security. In the episode broadcast on June 23, 2020, the editor of the DW Deutsche spoke about the war crimes conducted by these agents as mere violations and transgressions. His description is completely inconsistent with the content of the episode which focused on the use of the term crimes against humanity and murder under torture! The editor’s choice of words euphemizes crime in order to protect the Regime’s interests and ongoing control. 

In the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz where the trial took place, correspondents of international news agencies and newspapers were present, but not a single correspondent from DW was there. This channel which is supposed to cover this global event of huge importance, and transport it to the Arab and the Syrian viewer decided instead to turn a blind eye, and marginalize the trial. 

When employment and work is concerned, the Arab section relies on a strategy of its own. One of the former employees, who prefers to remain anonymous, confirmed the administration’s rejection of recruiting media personnel who are affiliated with the opposition, and this clearly indicates that there are influential people in the Arab section who decide who to employ and who make loyalty to the Assad regime and Hezbollah a primordial condition to be part of the team. Palestinian, Moroccan, and Lebanese blocs within the Arab section, are trying to control the editorial leadership and direct the channel’s policy. 

Many followers were surprised by DW’s silence against the behavior of an employee in DW Arabic who rejects the values of the TV network. He wrote on his Facebook page, accusing Deutsche Welle "The German section is not neutral. It deliberately fuels opposition”. Why would the administration of the Arab division retain such an employee if it did not agree with his point of view? 

DW Arabic is not only suffering from problems in its editorial line, but also in its administration. What has been written about it in German and international newspapers emphasizes the need to respond to the voices demanding an investigation in this matter, as the channel covers and funds its work and activity from taxpayers in Germany. 

The aim of this article is not a sacrilege of the DW Arabic, but rather it is an invitation to correct the channel’s biases, especially a bias to a party that committed all kinds of crimes against humanity, including the use of unlawful chemical weapons against its people. This article is also a call to the institution’s administration to correct the defect in the channel’s policy so that it is consistent with its internal system, which emphasizes human values, human rights, freedom of opinion and belief, women's rights, and advocacy of peaceful civil forces and movements in the world.

Michael Shammas is a veteran Syrian lawyer and human rights advocate.


Zaman Al Wasl
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