Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I am a Canadian...

I am a Canadian, born and raised in Ottawa. Over a year ago I packed up my family with baby and moved to Doha, Qatar to work for Al Jazeera. To be clear, I am not overtly political, though I have sympathies that you can probably guess given I have chosen to live in an Arab country. Nor did I come to Al Jazeera to make any grand statement or to perform aggressive acts against the West. Toronto is my home, I like it and I expect to return in a few years. I came to Al Jazeera for more mundane reasons: no taxes, easy winters and to get out of Canada's stagnating television industry. As such, you can imagine my total surprise when the news broke last week about Bush's alleged plan to bomb my place of work. That Bush would so cavalierly send up a "test balloon" on potentially turning me and/or any of my co-workers into collateral damage is truly outrageous.

When I first heard it, I did not believe it true - no Head of State, even one no longer held to the high standard of previous President's, would so openly muse with another Head of State about such a reprehensible act. But given Downings' cover up, I can only presume that this wasn't even an embarrasing case of gallows humour gone awry - he was and is deadly serious. To compound my concern, given he has not bombed yet, and given the leak is probably not a sufficient deterrent for a man so bent on destruction - I believe the threat is still real . So I am writing this post to let people outside of Al Jazeera know that the employees here are the same as employees everywhere: Canadian, Asian, African, European, American - wherever.

Like many of my fellow employees, I spend my days basically pushing paper and making a few decisions when necessary. We have families, we have people who rely on us to provide a home and we work in small ways for something better for ourselves and the people we love. Nothing more. So if we can be bombed here, thousands of miles from any battlezone, just like in Madrid...just like in London, then it makes me wonder if there really is any difference between Bush and the enemies he seems unable or maybe unwilling to identify.

Al Jazeera Channel, Doha

Monday, November 28, 2005

CNN.com Quickvote: 70% of respondents believe Bush wanted to bomb Al Jazeera

According to a poll on CNN.com, out of 138,305 votes, 70% of respondents believe that President Bush talked about bombing the Al Jazeera HQ.

Click here to see the original news story.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Telling the truth is hard. Not telling it is even harder.

Telling the truth is hard. Not telling it is even harder.

This is an old Al Jazeera poster - the picture is of our office in Bagdad, seconds after the bombing that killed Tareq Ayoub.

The caption reads:

Al Jazeera Channel has never shied away from reporting the truth and has paid the price repeatedly. Through accusations, political attacks, and boycotts by liberal as well as conservative governments and states; and by having a number of our offices closed down. Recently, the ultimate price was paid. Our Baghdad bureau was hit, reporter Tarek Ayoub killed and cameraman Zuhair Falih injured. This is too high a price to pay for telling the truth. But at Al Jazeera, we believe the price of not doing so would be even higher.
The right not to remain silent.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Should I go to work today?

My mother( 78 years old) used to tell me before going to work "my son take care", but yesterday she asked me "is it true that they want to bomb your TV station? Don’t go to work."

My little Haneen asked "why?" Who is going to kill dad, uncle Krechan, aunt Mayson, and aunt Hala? Please dad we don’t want to lose you and our friends, I don’t want to be like Khadeja, her father Tayser is not with her, or like Mohamed who doesn’t know his father Sami.

My wife came trying to hide tears in her face by a smile, and said "Yousef is a wise man, he can manage, we are not afraid. If you are going to save others life go ahead we are with you."

That was this mornings conversation. I thought for a while is it right? Is there a human being who can think of bombing a TV station? Then I remembered my colleague Tayseer's voice while I was in Qandhar, south Afghanistan, and he was in Kabul when he told me by phone of what happened and advised me to hide. Also I remembered him once again when he phoned me after bombing our office in Baghdad I was in my way from Amman to Baghdad, also I remembered Rashed Wali who was killed by a bullet in Karbala, Iraq, while we were reporting the fighting there between the US army & Al-Sader fighters, then I said that might occur again - someone may die. However I decided not to go back home but to participate in a campaign against the killers and those who think of bombing the truth seekers. Please tell me if I am right? If yes, my colleagues and I need your support. So do Tayseer, Sami, Tareq, and Rashid's kids - we want to know the truth. Simply because we are men and women who bring you the news.

Yousef Al-Shouly
Yousef is a Senior Producer and Senior Reporter at the Al Jazeera Channel. He has covered the wars in Afganistan and Iraq for the channel.