The German government seized one of Al Jazeera’s best known and most courageous journalists, Ahmed Mansour, this weekend at the behest of the Egyptian government. Al Jazeera has done some of the best work of any media organization in the world exposing the abuses and oppression of the Egyptian government. It is appalling that a western government would even consider becoming complicit in Egypt’s growing tyranny.
Mansour was the only journalist who remained in Fallujah in April 2004 when the Bush administration determined to brutally punish that city after four Blackwater security guards were killed there. Mansour continued broadcasting despite the demands by the U.S. military that he exit the locale. His reports showed that the U.S. bombing campaign was inflicting far more damage on civilians and the city than the U.S. government admitted. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld denounced his reporting as “vicious and inaccurate.” Mansour wrote a book, Inside Fallujah: An Unembedded Narrative – about his experience during that clash. (He has written at least 16 other books.) Here is a confidential U.S. government report on its Fallujah debacle released by Wikileaks. The U.S. military had previously bombed Al Jazeera’s office in Iraq, killing at least one journalist.
I had dinner with Mansour a couple times when I was in London in 2006 for an hour-long interview on his talk show – the most popular program on Al Jazeera with 25 million live viewers. Every place we went in London, he was enthusiastically greeted by people who recognized him (OK, we were going to Arabic restaurants, but…). If my memory serves, Ahmed had been previously violently attacked when he was reporting in Egypt during the Mubarak reign. Here is a link to the video of that interview and an Arabic transcript. (I have not been able to track down an English translation.)
Egypt recently issued an arrest warrant claiming that Mansour “tortured an unidentified lawyer in Tahrir Square during the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.” The fact that the warrant does not even bother naming that the person that Mansour purportedly tortured should have been sufficient to get it laughed out of any respectable courtroom. Germany is considering turning Mansour over to the Egyptian government to face the trumped-up charge.
The Egyptian regime – which came to power after overthrowing an elected ruler – has proven its contempt for both law and decency many times. The New York Times notes, “Mr. Sisi’s government and its supporters, on the other hand, have talked about Al Jazeera as if it were a terrorist organization seeking to bring down the government.” Al Jazeera has shown far more courage in exposing Egyptian government atrocities than has the Obama administration or the U.S. State Department.
Here is the type of shameless persecution sanctified by the Egyptian government’s legal shams: “A criminal court here sentenced 529 people to death on Monday after a single session of their mass trial, convicting them of murder for the killing of a police officer in the city of Minya during riots after the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, state media reported. The swift conviction of so many in one stroke was a sudden acceleration of the sweeping crackdown against Mr. Morsi’s Islamist supporters and against other dissenters that has unfolded since his removal last summer.” (That ruling made it appear that the Egyptian government had adapted the FBI/Waco model of justice.)
If Germany sends Mansour to Egypt, it would be akin to western governments rounding up escaped Soviet dissidents in the 1970s and sending them back to Moscow. In 2011, Al Jazeera broadcast comments by a 23-year-old female protestor Salma Al-tasi in Tahil Square: “We do not trust a government that sends thugs to kill us.” And what sort of government rounds up journalists abroad and sends them to a regime that wants to kill them?
UPDATE: The German government just announced Mansour’s release. But it is an outrageous that he was ever detained at the behest of the Egyptian government.
“And what sort of government rounds up journalists abroad and sends them to a regime that wants to kill them?”
A modern one? Don’t forget – “government” is a process, not a thing unto itself. “Governments” don’t “do” anything. People do things. And the people who govern are all (for the most part) part of the same large club – and you and I ain’t in it.
What do you mean “we,” Kemo-Sabe?
Okay, technically I’m a part of the problem rather than part of the solution, you’re right. But it’s only a small part. Kind of like Otisburg in Superman I.
No – you misunderstood. I was hinting at my covert govt. agent status.
I expect you’re part of the solution because you are pushing in the right direction.
I was attempting to deflect attention away from your covert government agent status!!!!!
Maaaaan, there is nothing worse than throwing yourself on a hand grenade to save a friend and the last thing you feel is him you-rin-ating all over your back!! Sheeeeesh! 😛
I’d point out that in order to have a solution, They The People will need to WANT a solution – and that’s not anything I’m seeing anytime soon. The ones that are still not stuck in the system are, for the most part, ignorant enough to want to keep the system going the way it is, setting aside a large majority who actively cheer it on.
Well, maybe I’ve naïve for expecting everything to get a lot better after Jeb is elected.
Nah, I wouldn’t say “naive.” 😀