1. Alarabiya.net general background
A-The significance of Alarabiya.net
Alarabia.net is one of the most important news website in Arabic. Launched in may 2004 as the cyber electronic version of the Alarabiya satellite channel which went on air in march 2003, the website contains full texts of all the Alarabiya programs since the 2003 and seeks to have its own niche in the world of Arabic journalism. The site is quoted by other internet sites, and visited by 50,000 thousand visitors everyday.
B-The Alarbiya.net editorial policy
Alarabiya's journalist team established the website upon the principal concept of "light-hearted journalism" by this concept they confirm their intention to present a professional top-notch work that competes, in level and standard, with the best in the Arab newspapers. Alarabiya.net combines, according to its team, between the characteristics of fast TV coverage and those of written news reporting in terms of analysis and depth, besides capitalizing on the advantages that the internet offers such as news archiving, cyber links which leads the reader to move from a particular news coverage to another in the same searching direction. Alarabiya.net team insists on providing a reader with an attractive material that is both useful and entertaining for the reader through his or her journey through the web-site's pages.
Alarabiya.net presents itself as a news web-site that "targets Arabic speakers all over the world and it always insists on providing the reader with news-coverage that is age-related in a language that makes reading the news fun and informative. The site maintained its own sphere of independence from the editorial policy of Alarabiya satellite TV in order to suit the interests of young people who represent a wide sector among the web-surfers.
Alarabiya.net consists of six sections:
the first page contains the breaking news and news reports updated regularly, as well as the daily surveys. There is also a page for politics, one for sports and one for finance and economics. The last page is presented by the editing team as a break given to the reader after his trip through the site's pages. It has features and entertaining news that still adhere to journalistic standards.
E-Alarabiya.net promotional means
The website provides many services to its visitors:
1- Live broadcast service: this service was free for two years, when Alarabiya was launched before it became for members only.
2- The interactive library which receives a considerable focus from the website as it provides the viewers with a various number of multi media documentary content which address the viewer' senses by applying the most advanced technology in the world of interactive internet. 3- A whole section dedicated to homemade movies and contains a short documentary, news coverage, personal videos, mobile videos, interactive library and the 'make your first movie' section.
4- The website also provides the RSS service which enables the readers to follow world news and all the website updates in an easy and practical way.
5- Alarabiya.net describes itself as a website which adopts an open-minded policy towards its readers whereby they can pitch-in their ideas, suggestions and opinions.
6- Alarabiya also provides news text messaging service through mobile phones which keeps the readers in touch with the day's significant events.
7- Due to the significance of the readers' comments and the interactive role played through a margin of opinion expression, the number of comments could reach sometimes more than 600 comments. This is a characteristic feature of Alarabiya.net which induced us to take up the comments as a case study for the website.
F- Searching inside Alarabiya.net
Alarabiya provides just one choice for searching which is text search and even in this case there are not any other choices to limit the search process. Reviewing the search results leads to the conclusion that the search process is not restricted to the title but it also extends to the text itself. When we searched for human rights as a term we found results for rights as a single word.
2-Human rights and Alarabiya.net
The website publishes an average of one material that has the term "human rights" every 4.3 day (3 materials every 13 days approximately) which is a very small number compared to the number of materials published everyday on the website.
B- Media content and its relation with human rights
The media content is focused mainly on human rights organizations news coverage which indicates that for Alarabiya.net covering the news of human rights organizations comes first, while concerning freedom of speech and expression comes second and the right to freedom takes third place.
C- The media content
Violations of human rights took first place among the most frequent recurring materials, promoting human rights came second and in the third place was Alarabiya.net criticism of a number of human rights concepts or organization's stance. Lastly comes improving the image of a number of countries, especially United Arab Emirates and Bahrain regarding human rights records.
D- Geographical and political bodies and the media content
Syria and Saudi Arabia are the countries with the most recurrent frequency regarding human rights violations along with countries with a usually higher rate of rights violations like Egypt, Iraq and USA.
The Emirates came last with a media content focused on improving the country's image regarding human rights.
E- The four rights
Women's issues grabbed the focus of the media content preceding minorities rights, refugees issues and the right to personal privacy which came last, despite the fact that 2006 has seen many issues that concern minorities and tolerance with the other such as the cases of cartoon drawings, the Pope's speech, Bahais' situation in Egypt, Sudanese refugees in Egypt, Somali refugees is Yemen, Palestinian refugees in Iraq and Iraqi refugees in general.
3-Media content analysis
A-Human rights advocacy
# On the 14th of Dec 2006 Alarabiya.net discussed human rights as a theoretical concept in an essay by Muhamed Abu Mazen entitled "Human rights … first and last" as a part of celebrating 58 years since the universal declaration of human rights. Abu Mazin believes that this anniversary did not raise the Arab world's concerns neither on the official level nor the public level, a fact which indicates the irrelevancy of the issue of human rights in the Arab world, not only in terms of political, civil, economic or social rights, but also basic human rights and the right to life.
The essay also talked about the pretexts that Arab regimes use to justify human rights violations and maltreatments, and the lack of compliance with the universal declaration of human rights under the name of religion. He also warned that these violations create a human being who is "insecure and susceptible to joining a terrorist group or becoming a member in a militant group that slaughter in the name of religion".
# In another piece entitled "Democracy is assaulting us" Muhanad Salahat discusses the media status in the Arab world, as a part of celebrating the international day for human rights, and the hardships journalists have to go through under laws of emergency and military regimes. The writer focuses on Jordanian journalists as an example. He quotes form "Diwan el-Arab" magazine the results of an interesting survey which concludes that 40% of the participants wanted to stay in their countries, one in five of the 3180 participants said that they want to immigrate without returning back to their countries and 48% in general said they want to immigrate regardless of the intention of returning or not, which means that half the population wants to immigrate. The writer asks at the end of his piece about the reason those people want to leave their countries.
B- Critiquing human rights concepts or human rights organizations
# In a piece by Ameer Said that was published on Alarabiya.net on 21st of Dec 2006 and entitled "Bulgarian nurses and the European hypocrisy" the author criticizes the European Union and its human rights organization's condemnation of the verdict issued by a Libyan court of appeals in the case of the Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor whom were sentenced to death for allegedly infecting Libyan children with HIV. He described the European Union's pressure on the Libyan judiciary to commute the sentences as hypocrisy and political pragmatism. He also said that the Arab world's trust in the European Union and its human rights organizations became very fragile and verging on incredibility regarding political or social issues that concern the Arab world.
# In another piece by Manar Rashwani entitled "The culture of failure", the writer ridicules the fact that an Arab country that is notorious for human rights abuses was able to make it to the UN Committee for Human Rights. While many writers and intellectuals in the Arab world regarded this as slap on American politics face and a victory for the Arab people, the writer believes that it was rather a legitimization of the oppression practiced by dictatorships upon their people. He also criticized the double standards of those writers and intellectuals concluding that it is a duty that behooves the Arab people to denounce oppression "regardless of the identify of the oppressor".
C- Analysis of the media content regarding the four rights
1. Women's rights
A-Women and the veil (hijab)
The hijab was the main significant issue for Alarabiya.net during 2006 in contrast to allegations that Alarabiya.net is employing sensational sexual content in its message. The word 'hijab' appeared 94 times while cases of rape and sexual harassment came second appearing 72 times.
Alarabiya.net capitalized on two incidents to give prominence to the pages dealing with women and hijab on the website. The incident concerns an administrative official from the faculty of law and political science in the Tunisian capital who detained veiled female students inside an office leaving them locked inside. The second is regarding the statement of the Egyptian minister of culture about the hijab, which was published in El Masry El Youm and in which he said that the veil is a relapse and that "religion nowadays is more related to appearances despite the fact that the relationship between the person and God does not depend on clothes"
# Muslim Brotherhood persecutes the Egyptian minister for mocking hijab and azan [prayer calls]
On 16th Nov Farag Ismail wrote a report under the abovementioned with the subtitle "Helwan university dismisses students wearing neqab and is heading towards banning speech inside mosques". The report was an implicit attempt to confirm that the minister's statements were part of the state's policy "to fight hijab in Egypt, a move similar to the governments of turkey and Tunisia and other countries that succumbs to the western influence". The report was reviewing opinions of members of Islamic groups in Egypt.
# The funeral of liberty… if I had a wife I would have stopped her from wearing hijab!!
Alarabyia.net discussed the angry reactions provoked by the minister's statements from different perspectives as it did in an essay by Amir Asaad on 19th Nov 2006 with the abovementioned title. The writer discusses a part of the minister's statement which was published in El Masry El Youm in which the latter said that "personally I don't prefer a woman wearing hijab and if I had a wife I would have stopped her from wearing it". The writer sees double standards in the minister's statement as it is fluctuating between "liberal attitudes and theocratic prohibitions".
The writer also condemns the silence of NGOs which advocate equality between men and women questioning the difference between "coercing women to wear hijab" or "coercing them to take it off". Asaad believes that the minster's statement is "in conflict with the treaty on discrimination against women which Egypt signed in 1979 with reservations, and which the national council of women's issues struggled to ratify in full including an article related to the total equality between men and women in terms of civil rights and basic liberties".
# The Egyptian parliament exonerates the minister of culture from advocating to take off hijab
Alarabiya.net followed up the story all the way until the last chapter in which the parliament absolves the minister. In a story with the abovementioned title, the case was wrapped up after the minister answered the questions of the investigative committee. "Does the Minster of cultured maintain a cultural stance against hijab?" Mr. Fathy Sorour asked. "Such a stance would be flawed and irrational", the minister answered. And when asked "did you issue any decrees banning women form wearing hijab in the ministry?" the minister answered that "it never happened". Then Mr. Sorour asked "are you calling upon women not to wear hijab?" and the answer was: "I did not say that before".
Not unrelated to this issue, stories of Arab actresses wearing hijab received significant attention from Alarbiay.net:
* Hanan Turk leaves her husband after arguing about wearing hijab
* Veiled actresses issue a black list of anti-hijab women
* Sabreen..I prefer a woman who serves her husband and I hate the domineering wife
* First hijab beauty pageant contest in Tatarstan with a silk hijab trophy
On 19th of Dec 2006 and under this title Alarabiya.net covered a story about the first beauty pageant contest for "Muslim women". The contest was organized by the Russian republic of Tatarstan to choose "a Muslim beauty queen". The questions were based on religious and moral commitment and awareness of Islamic issues. They were also limited to baby-caring, cooking and house-keeping. Context activities were attended only by women.
# Layla al Uthman confirms publishing a novel containing sexual content
In a report entitled "Layla al Uthman confirms publishing a novel containing sexual content" published on Alarabiya.net on 1st Dec 2006. The report discussed the role of Islamic extremist groups played jointly with the official censorship body in banning and confiscating works by the celebrated Kuwaiti novelist and writer Layla al Uthman, as well as the pressures the Islamic groups exercised on her to wear hijab, quit public life and stop writing.
B-Women and political and human rights activities
Alarabiya.net discussed women's issues as an activist and a political contender in 33 stories during 2006.
# Malaysian town bans female provocative attire
On 5th of Dec, Alarabiya.net quoted a story from news agencies, that portrayed the female activists as advocates of "provocative attire". The subtitle was "woman activists object and consider the issue as one that should not concern the authorities". The story says that imposing conservative attire enraged a number of female groups stating that "the council's decision to ban wearing revealing attire that are not in accordance with the Islamic dress code, enraged a number of female groups". There were 133 comments on the story. Most of these comments hailed the ban as an Islamic victory as part of the battle against the West, which, in their opinion, promotes nudity. Most of the comments entailed that those who oppose the ban are advocates of moral deterioration. This is seen clearly in comment number 110 which was entitled 'pandering' stating: "praise to Allah that there are still honorable men among the people of this nation who stand on guard for their country's reputation and reject moral deterioration which others deem as extremism and intolerance".
# American-Saudi female running for Congress in California
Alarabiya.net published the story of the American activist Feryal Almasry who is running for congress under the subtitle "making bids on her Arab origins while her son is fighting for America in Iraq". Alarabiya.net introduced the American activist, saying that "Feryal Almasry is seeking a place in the mid-term congress elections in California next November as a member in the democratic party. She is making her bids on her Arab Muslim origins to reach out to American voters". Most of the comments on this story generally indicate the role that tribal and religious affinities play on Alarabiya.net.
# Opinions and reflections: 'hope resurrection'…a documentary.
Alarabiya.net program hosted a number of civil society activist through many interviews. Under the title "personal initiatives to solve everyday problems" Alarabiya.net hosted Asma Modanat (women's rights activist). She confirmed the significance of personal initiatives in creating opportunities for the poor around the world to enable them to regain their self-confidence and discard dependence on others, she also presented a number of successful initiatives through a documentary called 'hope resurrection'. "In Peru they turn garbage into gold", she states. The program showed a documentary about Albena Ruiz's successful project.
The program also reviewed the initiative of one of the civil society pioneers, the Bengali economist Muhamed Younis, who is the winner of Nobel peace prize in 2006. Mr Younis gave away 20$ to thousands of beggars. Years before he lent a group of women what was called "the first 27$ loan". The program also reviewed a number of other successful initiatives of civil society.
# Esraa Nomani: mosque are turning into clubs for males….Muslim women have the right to sexual enjoyment Alarabiya.net introduced Esraa Nomani as "the first Muslim woman to call for joint prayers for both sexes in the United States. She also stormed one day into a crowded prayer hall in a mosque in Los Angles insisting on praying among men and refusing to pray in the women's section". The website made an interview with the American activist describing her ideas as controversial. Her opinions on religious matters were presented under the subtitles:
I pray without wearing hijab
I had a baby without marriage
Muslim women have a right to sexual enjoyment
Mosques are clubs for males
The feminist movement was categorized in this episode into three categories (extremist feminism, conservative feminism, and modernist feminism). A number of new terms were also reviewed e.g., the Islamic feminist movement and "Islamic femininity". The episode questioned about the reasons why the feminist movement, which originated in the United States, could not have resonance among Arab women despite the harsh reality they are facing.
# A guest and a dialogue: with Nagya Adeeb
On the 9th of July Alarabiya.net TV aired an episode of a program that hosted, Nagya Adeeb, president of "Don't Harm my Children" society in Morocco. Nagya was introduced as "a Moroccan woman who turned to legal activism after an assault on her 3 years old son. Nagya established this society to fight sexual assaults on children as a response to the hardship her son went through. She struggles today to put an end to children abuse which is regarded as one of the most heinous practices children could face".
The questions of the TV host circulated around the issue that "statistics in Morocco says that there are a limited number of cases of sexual assaults on children, and that they do not exceed a hundred every year, hence the matter does not deserve all this attention as a dangerous and major phenomenon. Aren't these cases just exceptions?" He added, "don't you think that discussing these issues in public would have a negative effect on the child's psychological health, even more so than silence?"
2- Minorities and tolerance with the other
Minorities came second in Alarabiy.net coverage of the four rights. Alarabiya.net did not ignore the bedun [without nationality] issue in the Arab gulf. The issue was brought to the forefront when minorities' rights were discussed 11 times in 2006.
There is a noticeable difference in the way the website dealt with the issue of bedun in the United Emirates, which always appears on Alarabiya.net as the modern country that respects values of human rights and working hard to settle the bedun issues on the one hand, and the more objective treatment of the same issues in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, on the other.
A-The bedun [individuals without nationality]
# Emirati bedun
In a story entitled "Emirati bedun" that was published on the 28th of Dec the issue of bedun in the Emirates and Kuwait was discussed. We find that the story, especially in the introduction, is merely propaganda on the Emirates' behalf. Nagah Mohamed Ali, the writer, says "the bedun problem in the Emirates is about to be settled as the authorities decided to confer the Emirati nationality on 1294 individuals, which is the first group among 10,000 of people without nationality about which the Emirates is seeking a permanent solution. These developments come after the wise and precise decree issued by sheikh Khalifa bin Zaid al Nahyan who ordered this problem to be resolved, thus maintaining his father's initiative who issued passports for those people and who establish a modern country built on eternal values and upholds human rights and dignities at all the times".
According to the story, 1294 individuals received passports after the committee presided by the director of protective security of the ministry of interior confirmed their existence in the country before the declaration of the United Emirates. This number represents only 12% of the total number of the bedun yet the writer willingly claims that the problem is about to be settled permanently.
# Emirate film on the shelves in Dubai cinema festival for unknown reasons
A report by Farag Ismail in 2006 with the abovementioned titled discusses the reasons behind banning a movie Hanin from the big screen. The movie discusses the right to nationality and specifically the issue of the bedun in the Emirates. The report in general promotes the Emirates image regarding human rights. Alarabiya.net cites the movie director, Mohamed al Tarify to back up the claim that the movie was not discarded because of the issue it deals with as the script was approved by the government. Alarabiya.net also cites Yousef Ibrahim, a script producer saying that "the issue of the bedun was discussed in a number of TV works" and that "there's a good space for liberties in the Emirates, as we tackle the most sensitive issues".
# Saudi Arabia…the bedun in a devastating situation and hope for passports
Alarabiya.net took more liberty in discussing the bedun's issue in Saudi Arabia. On the 11th of Feb and in a report with the abovementioned title it described the devastating situation the bedun are going through after failing to acquire the Saudi passports despite incessant pleadings. The report also talked about their stalled transactions for years and the fact that they belong to well-known Saudi tribes and that their cousins enjoy their full citizenship rights.
B-The Sahrawis [people from Western Sahara]
# Rabat releases Sahrawi detainees and a UN issues a report
The story was about the freed detainees and the UN issuing a report in which it recommends negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario front to reach a fair, permanent and acceptable settlement. Alarabiya.net took the chance to present an analysis of the relation between the Moroccan government and the Polisario front in the light of the UN report and subsequently managed to open the Sahrawis case for discussion.
# Rabat extends negotiations with senior Sahrawi citizens regarding self-determination
The report discusses the Sahrawi issue and the efforts of the Moroccan king aiming to resolve this conflict, the king had conferred amnesty on 216 detainees in the capital Layoune, among them 30 political activists and human rights advocates.
Alarabiya.net discussed the Baha'i issue in Egypt from an objective perspective in terms of admitting the fact that the Baha'is are deprived of their civil rights e.g. documentation of marriage contracts and their right to bring-up their children in accordance with their belief.
# Calls to wipe-out Baha'is in Egypt…85% of Palestinians are allegedly Jewish
On the 28th of July, Alarabiya.net reviewed a book entitled "Baha'i faith…doctrines and imperialistic goals" which was recently published by the Egyptian ministry of religious endowments. Alarabiya.net concludes the review saying that "the Baha'is, who are about 2000 in Egypt, seek the recognition of their religion in the new identification cards which every Egyptian has to carry before 2006 in order to obtain education, work permits and medical care. These new cards only recognize three religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism".
# Baha'is in Egypt seeks recognition in official documents
On the 16th of April and under the abovementioned title, Alarabiya.net covered this story with subtitles that read "complains about problems with marriage, work and education", "marriage is a sensitive problem for Baha'is" and "Baha'i daily life in Egypt".
The website also discussed religious tolerance as a theoretical concept in many stories:
* What a question: Are we living in a time of decreasing religious tolerance?
* The rhetoric of treason is pushing Lebanon towards a danger precipice
* Accusing intellectuals with heresy, and the flawed story
* Promoting the value of tolerance and the culture of difference
* Justice and tolerance will put and end to seditions
Alarabiya.net regarded the World Refugee Day as a chance to shed light on the situation of the Palestinian refugees
# Panorama: Arab failure in world cup
In an episode of the program 'panorama' on the 20th of June and under the subtitle "World Refugee Day" Alarabiya.net gave an extensive explanation of refugee problem and the reasons behind seeking asylum and how those reasons vary due to political reasons, wars, natural disaster or due to deteriorating economic factors. It also talked about the number of refugees around the world which is estimated at 9 million in 2004, the majority of which are from Afghanistan, Sudan, Burundi, Congo, Somalia, Iraq, Liberia, Vietnam and Palestine. Refugees usually choose one of the following countries as an asylum: the United States, France, the UK, Germany, Canada, Sweden, Belgium, Slovakia, and Australia.
There are also refugees who left their countries for political and cultural reasons while there are others who went back home as it happened in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and Sarajevo yet they are still in need for a special care, which is missing in their countries. The program afterwards shifts attention on the Palestinian refugees and highlights the traumatic situation they are going through, arguing that the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as refugees inside their land.
# The third eye: refugees till death
In the program 'Third eye' Alarabiya.net aired an episode on the 24th of December 2005 which discussed the situation of the Sudanese refugees in Cairo after they organized a sit-in protest in Mostafa Mahmud square. Estimated at "more than 1500 refugees and asylum seekers from the Sudan", Sudanese refugees took their luggage to the streets in front of the UN high commissioner for refugees demanding asylum in Europe, the US and Australia. While the international commissioner suspended their application, three months had passed without any change in the situation despite many negotiations and efforts of mediation. The program shed light on the fact that health conditions were deteriorating in a district unfamiliar to such scenes. Alarabiya.net discussed the issue with objectivity giving a fair chance to all the related parties to express their points of views by hosting a number of Sudanese refugees and representatives of human rights organizations.
4- Privacy of personal life
The issue of homosexuality was the issue most covered by Alarabiya.net with regard to the right to the privacy of personal life. The site focused on the news of politicians and artists. It also focused to a lesser degree on the problem of spying on personal lives. Yet, Alarabiya.net didn't discuss adequately problems such as the privacy of personal correspondences, breaking into houses without a legal warranty, defamation, libel and degrading treatment.
Alarabiya.net discussed this issue under various titles related to consensual sex yet not under the banner of advocating this right or even criticizing. Rather, it sensationalized the issue, which attracted attention in the region especially among young people.
* The daughter of the US vice president publicly announces she is gay
* Amal Hegazy accused of homosexuality after wearing clothes for homosexuals
* More than 15,000 homosexuals got married in the UK during 9 months.
* Tetouan residents worried because of an organization of Moroccan gays in their town.
The third eye: eavesdropping and surveillance terrify Arabs and Muslims in the US On the 7th of April Alarabiya.net published a scripted version of the 'third eye' program in which it discussed what it described as the "nightmare" in which Arabs and Muslims in the United States are living, that is, eavesdropping and surveillance. The fear is that any word or an international telephone call may lead to detention and imprisonment. These practices are conducted illegally according to the opponents of the secret program which is also known as the spying program while the White House insists that this program protects Americans form any potential acts of terrorism.
Choices of Alarabiya.net's readers during May 2007
Alarabiya.net is well-known for the huge number of comments published on its pages, which sometimes exceed more than 600 comments. These comments are quite important indicators of the public opinion or what Alarabiya.net regards as a public opinion and whether the website interferes by omitting or adding or reorganizing.
The comments also raise the questions of the degree to which the published comments are in accordance with the publishing standards. According to Alarabiya.net "we receive a great number of comments which leaves us no choice but to choose only a number of them. We also apologize for discarding comments that carry personal defamation or slander against individuals or religions, given the fact that some of the comments are not published due to the great number of comments as well as limited time".
During May 2007 Alarabiya.net presented 13 subjects through the 'Choices of Alarabyia.net readers' page. Alarabiya.net listed the five most read stories, the five stories with most comments, the five most emailed stories, the five most printed stories and the five most saved stories.
* The five stories with most comments
* Mubarak: I will not allow building a bridge between Egypt and Saudi Arabia
* Ten injured in Muslim Christian clashes in Egypt
* Egypt: 59 Muslim arrested after clashes with Christians due to church expansion
* Switzerland forbids Suleiman al Ouda from entering and accuses him of terrorism
* Dr. Nasser Al Ansary: I prefer sitting next to Yousra than sitting next to Karadawy Stories with most comments
During May 2007 Alarabiya.net published a number of stories that attracted a great number of comments. Such comments were related to these issues: international cooperation, the freedom of movement, the freedom of opinion and expression and minority rights.
A. Minority rights
Minority rights came in the first place after covering two stories from the five stories with most comments. Both stories are about clashes between Muslims and Christians in the city of Al Ayat in Giza province.
# Ten injured in Muslim Christian clashes in Egypt
Alarabiya.net quoted an unknown source saying that clashes erupted between Muslims and Christian in the village of Bamha in Al Ayat, which is about 25 kilometers south of Cairo. The clashes erupted due to attempts to expand a church on a disputed land. Alarabiya.net did not identify their sources neither did it review the incident from the point of view of the injured party.
The number of comments on this story was 391 and they varied between condemnation and calling for tolerance from an Islamic perspective or analyzing the dispute as a conspiracy designed by some countries playing on religious differences in order to open a way for occupying Egypt as was the case in Iraq.
We find for example comment number 101 which is titled "ye shall treat the Copts well" which cited a number of religious sayings calling for treating the Copts with well and regarding what happened as a conspiracy to defame Islam and the Muslims at the hands of Muslims. Comment number 112 is entitled "he who harms one of the people of the book, has done harm to me".
On the other hand many comments were quite racist while also relying on the religious perspective by citing hadiths and verses from the Quran. One comment reads "Christians and Jews won't befriend you unless you convert to their religion" while comment number 339 states "our country is not theirs". Comment number 340 was entitled "the Christian envy".
Many comments departed from the violent dispute in order to debate the number of Christians in Egypt and whether it is 12% or 5%. Comment number 69 was entitled "they are 5% and if they were 95% they would have killed all Muslims".
Minorities had a chance to make comments, such as comment number 117 in which "injured Copt" said "what will happen if they let us worship God in our own way".
B. Freedom of opinion and expression
Regarding the freedom of opinion and expression, one of the stories with the most comments was entitled "Dr. Ansary: I prefer sitting next to Yousra than to sit next Karadawy". Alarabiya.net introduced Dr. Ansary as an academic researcher with a doctorate In religious judiciary politics from Azhar university in 1980 and currently working as a professor in a law school in Qatar University. Before, he was also the dean of the Law and Sharia school in the same university and is considered to be one of the most public figures advocating intellectual progress and enlightenment in the Arab world. He is also known for his calls for educational reform and defending women's and minority rights as well as condemning "suicidal bombings" which he believes has no religious justification. He is an advocate of making a distinction between what is historical and what is religious.
It was quite interesting that most of the 300 comments were in Ansary's favor.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo) conducted a follow-up study of alarabiya.net spanning the period from 21st of April to 21st of May 2007. The workshop discussed the preliminary results of the study with representative of alarabiya.net. 82 subjects were put at study with various results in terms of publishing rate of materials related to human rights. The results are quite steady in proportion compared to the results of the previous year in which news about human rights violations came first in the media content. Human rights advocacy came in the second place while criticizing human rights or human rights organizations came third.
During the month of the study Alarabiya.net focused more on these countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United States, Syria, Sudan, France and Iraq, presented respectively from countries with the most to the least focus.
The French elections and Sarkozy's victory and its effect on minorities in France were among the reasons that made Alarabiya.net focus on France during that month.
5-Huaman rights slips on Alarabiya.net
Alarabiya.net made a number of slips as in a report entitled "political activist: Al Azhar did not object to belly dancing". The report reviewed different points of views about the subject, first from a moral/religious perspective represented by the MP Khodair al Anzi and Mofrag Nahar, former MP and member of Islamic Salafi Union. On the opposite side there were views of those who supported the idea represented by Salma al Agamy, a lawyer and political activist, and Dr. Mona al Ghareeb.
The comments went to the extreme sometimes by calling for lynching the proponents as in comment 63 which believes that the issue is a departure form Islamic teachings. The same comment quotes the hadith "whoever defected from the prescribed path shall be killed".
In another piece entitled "Irish Noble winner and activist wishes Bush dead", the Irish activist, poet and Nobel Prize winner Betty Williams launches a bitter verbal assault on the American president George Bush and says she wishes to kill him in a speech in front of hundreds of students.
Economic factors play an active role in deriving the media content of Alarabyia.net as most of the attention was focused on the youth group and promoting the website's media image. This was the main reason why Alarabiya.net decided to present new issues and others that would pique its readers' curiosity. Alarabiya.net brought women's issues to the forefront as it covered events of rape, sexual harassment and the hijab controversies. These are issues that are generally ignored yet they are also ones that draw the attention of Arab youth. Despite that, the website did not fall into the trap of sexual sensation in presenting the material.
Alarabiya.net discussed issues of Baha'is and the bedun and the Sahrawis. The bedun issue took the first place in Alarabiya.net's media content regarding minority rights, yet the issue wasn't handled evenly as the Emirates appeared in this specific case as the modern country that respects human rights and seek to settle the bedun issue, while in the case of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Alarabiya.net dealt with the issue more extensively and objectively.
Alarabiya.net placed the World Refugee Day on its special agenda as an attempt to remind the Arab world of the situation of the Palestinian refugees and also to explain the refugee issues extensively outlining different factors that lead to seeking asylum, which range from political to economic factors.
Most of the stories Alarabiya.net discussed regarding the right to the privacy of personal life was concentrated on homosexuals and news of gay politicians or artists. Spying on personal life came second while Alarbabiya.net did not discuss issues such as the privacy of correspondence and breaking into houses without a legal warrant, defamation and degrading treatment.
Alarbyia.net takes pride in the fact that the number of comments in some cases exceeds 600. Yet after studying these comments we found that most of these comments have a chauvinistic bent as they take the form of war of words between different Arab nationalities and even of slander and insults. Alarabiya.net occasionally interferes with the comments by omission or addition sometimes aiming to heat up the debate, which holds the website partly accountable for the content of the comments.