1- Moheet, a general preview:
A - The importance of the Moheet website:
Moheet is considered among the best online-only source of news. Other sites in its class, such as Al-Jazeera’s or Al-Ahram’s are associated with a major media outlet. Moheet is unique among its peers in that it is available only online, but delivers news reports of a quality comparable to its better-endowed competitors at Al-Jazeera or Al-Ahram.
Moheet has an excellent reputation because it is considered genuinely independent, a reputation that has helped it thrive since 1997. The website is a part of a network directed by “Arabia Inform” in cooperation with the United Programming Company.
The site is organized geographically, with each Arab country represented. Within each country, articles are further organized topically under headings such as politics, economics, sports, and so on.
Additionally, users may choose to browse articles cutting across geographic borders, organized by themes, including, recently, literature and culture.
News services include:
1. News from each Arabic country and Diaspora communities.
2. Politics, including special sections on:
c. Arab affairs
d. The Islamic world
e. Asia and the western world.
3 Today's harvest
4 Thematic dossiers
6 Economics and business.
8 Moheet for women
10 Arabic and international affairs
13 The Arts
14 Computers and telecommunications
15 Science and technology
17 Tourism and travel
On 13 December 2006 the website published on its front page a photo concerning violence against woman with links to files and special reports.
b-Additional services offered to draw visitors:
Moheet offers a variety of services and tools to its visitors, such as prayer times, weather forecasts, currency exchange rates, and stock quotes.
c-Moheet’s search engine:
Searches conducted on Moheet referred us to its partner site, "Ask Zad," which is also operated by Arabia Inform. A search for “human rights” gave a total of 199,973 results without details or making the material accessible, because the website’s archive is not available freely to the public.
Human rights on Moheet:
Because of the absence of a free search engine on the website, we turned to Google to search on Moheet, so this indicator reflects Google ability more than Moheet's. In this field, the website publishes, on average, 0.08 pieces of information related to human rights daily.
II-The context of the information material related to human rights:
Moheet’s human-rights-related coverage is distinguished by its concern for personal rights, though it should be said again that we arrived at these conclusions based on Google searches, and Google may have imperfect knowledge of what is available on Moheet’s site.
Informtion about human rights violations and propaganda figures prominently on Moheet, as on other websites we studied.
IV-Geographical Breakdown of Coverage:
Information about Iraq, Israel, and the United States predominates Moheet’s coverage, as it does most news outlets’ coverage, reflecting the number of human rights violations concentrated in these countries.
The “Four Rights”
We found only three articles about the “four rights” on Moheet, too few to allow for statistical analysis.
Moheet resembles other websites included in this study in that it divides the world into the Islamic world, the Western world, and Asia. It is more specific in its divisions, in that it also dedicates a space to “Arab affairs,” with a concentration on the Palestinian and Iraqi files. This explains the preponderance of material on Iraq, Israel, the United States and international affairs on the site.
Moheet devoted heavy coverage to the Israeli-Lebanese war of the summer of 2006 and its Arab and international dimensions. Notably, Moheet does not use the word “Jews” as much as it uses the word “Zionists” to describe Israelis. Sectarian distinctions within Lebanese society disappeared in the website's coverage of the war in Lebanon.
One of the important pages of Moheet is a forum allowing readers to discuss events and issues, which Moheet offers with the disclaimer that it is not responsible for any opinions expressed. It is a page for studies, reporting, and articles as much as a space for casual reader participation. The page included almost all the topics in our study, such as Ismailis, people with no nationality, and people from Western Sahara. Readers also raised some topics that did not appear in the website’s editorial coverage, such as refugees from the Golan Heights.
Examples of Moheet’s Coverage:
# “Olmert on Sharon's road to the international courts”
On 8 August, Moheet republished an article by Abd al-Hadi Marhoun that originally appeared in the Emirati daily Dar al-Khaleej. The article tackled “Israeli crimes against humanity during its last war on Lebanon,” including violations of articles of the Geneva Conventions that call for protecting civilians during war. The article urged judicial bodies, lawyers, and human rights activists to register the Israeli violations, and specifically the "second Qana Massacre" as the first step toward prosecuting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before the International Criminal Court (ICC), as happened with former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The writer defined the ICC as “the first lasting court devoted to prosecuting individuals accused of committing the most egregious crimes against humanity and the most egregious violations of human rights principles and international humanitarian law. More specifically, this means genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.”
The writer covered the history of the court's establishment, its relationship to national judiciary systems, and its competence after the Treaty of Rome, and said that 100 countries had ratified the treaty establishing the court. The writer indicated the parties who have the right to send cases to the ICC and the laws that it applies.
# "United Nations: 100,000 cluster bombs in Lebanon will take 10 years to be removed"
On 2 September, Moheet published a report compiled from wire stories on the cluster bombs that Israel used in residential areas in Lebanon during the war. The United Nations estimated that roughly 100,000 unexploded cluster bomblets remained, most of them dropped on southern Beirut during the last three days of the war. To remove those bombs, the report said, the United Nations will need more than 10 years. The United Nations also said most of those bombs we made in the United States, and that Israel had used more cluster bombs than had been used in Kosovo, Afghanistan, or Iraq, and that most of this weapon’s victims are civilians, and especially children, who often pick up the tiny unexploded ordinance out of curiosity.
# "Human Rights Watch uncovers serious faults in Saddam Hussein's trial"
On 18 November, the website published a piece Human Rights Watch’s criticisms of Saddam Hussein’s trial, including the organization’s charge that the trial included "serious procedural flaws that threaten the reliability of the sentence."
# "United Nations declare fierce fights between the Sudanese army and the rebels in southern Sudan"
On 30 November, the website reported that "the Sudanese government refused to deploy international UN peacekeepers alongside the African Union troops in Darfur,” and noting that the 3-year-old conflict had left 200,000 people dead.
# "European efforts to reopen human rights center in Damascus"
On 8 March, Moheet reported on the efforts of the European Commission’s efforts to reopen an EU-funded human-rights training center that the Syrian government closed a few days after it opened.
1. Minorities and Tolerance
I. The Danish Cartoon Controversy
In general, Moheet did not treat minorities based on their rights as outlined in the relevant international conventions and agreements, but rather viewed them based on the premise "they are forces with different interests," concentrating on the national and Islamic dimension of the cases. The website appeared keen to clarify the balance between Islam and human rights conventions.
# "Islamic world rises up; the foolishness of Denmark brings destruction to its embassies"
Moheet devoted a long report to the controversy surrounding Danish cartoons many Muslims deemed offensive to the Prophet Mohammed. Reporter Jihan Mostafa described the reaction to the cartoons as an "Islamic uprising against Denmark," and quoted Hizballah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah as saying, "If one Muslim executed the Fatwa of killing the Indian British writer Salman Rushdi 17 years ago, no one would have dared to insult the Prophet Mohammed today."
The website recounted the beginning of the crisis, its evolution, and the reactions of Arab foreign ministers during their meetings, and through their joint statement issued in December 2005, in which they declared their "disappointment of European human rights NGOs that did not take a strong position against the cartoons." Mostafa argued that the economic and political boycott, the withdrawal of ambassadors, the temporary closing of embassies, especially by the Gulf countries, was the most effective way to end the struggle. She argued that press freedom should not supercede respecting religion, and blamed the West for its "double standards" for prosecuting Holocaust-deniers as having crossed a “red line,” while defending those who insult the beliefs of 1 billion Muslims on free-expression grounds.
Mostafa wrote that the West had even stooped to repeating "Zionist" claims about the connections between Islam and terrorism, and said that this requires deterrent procedures from the Arab and Islamic countries, especially because the West is so quick, she said, to accuse Muslim or Arabic newspapers of anti-Semitism when they criticize Israel.
# "Kurds prevent Iraqi Arabs from entering their territories"
On 20 April, the website published a report on the condition of Kurds in US-occupied Iraq. They enjoy their autonomy northern Iraq especially in Arbil, Soulimania, and Dahouk under the sovereignty of Massoud Barazani’s Democratic Kurdish Labor Party. The writer said that the local authorities in these cities prevented non-Kurdish Iraqi citizens from entering them unless a Kurdish sponsor affirmed that they were seeking refuge from the hell of daily violence in Baghdad, and said that this highlighted the sectarian divisions in Iraq.
# "Kurdish labor party declares a temporary truce with the Turkish government"
On 30 September, Moheet reported that the Kurdish Labor Party, "the separatist group in Turkey, will cease attacks against the Turkish government after a call from the imprisoned leader Abdullah Ogalan, in response to severe international criticisms of Kurdish militant attacks against civilians and tourists.”
2. Woman's Rights
The website reported cases of violence against women, women’s labor rights, with a special emphasis on Muslim women, and particularly how they enjoy all the rights accorded to them in Islam.
# "Bullets of treachery: Politkovskaya, the martyr of the Russian bear."
The website published the life-story of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot to death on 7 October 2006. Discussing her reporting on Chechnya, it cast her assassination as equal to the assassination of “any other resistance leader.” Politkovskaya, Moheet said, “was the pen that wrote the truth of what happened on the ground in Chechnya to inform public opinion in Russia and the world,” and called Russia “one of the fiercest enemies of Islam.”
# "Woman and her high position in Islam"
On 16 November, Moheet published an article by Samar Ezzin on women's position in different civilizations, and particularly in Islam. At the end of her article Ezzin indicated the type of woman she dreams of: a free woman who obtains all the rights she defends, sticks to her rights, fights for the entire community to obtain the same rights, and who seeks to keep her own dignity by safeguarding the dignity of the entire community." This way, Ezzin wrote, “Women can participate in fostering freedom, equality, and social justice in the community—the dream of every human being.”
# "Cultural Harvest"
In February 2006 Moheet reported on the death of women’s rights advocate Betty Friedan at the age of 85. The website said Friedan’s first book, issued in 1963 under the title The Feminine Mystique, “helped inject blood into the arteries of the woman's rights movement in the United States.”
Moheet devotes special attention to Palestinian and Iraqi refugees. It was keen to reflect the role of international institutions such as UNHCR and UNRWA. The website also concentrated on Iraqis left homeless as a result of the current violence and on Sudanese chased from their homes as a result of conflict there. It presented the Sudanese government’s point of view regarding Darfur and its refusal to deploy international troops under the supervision of the United Nations in Sudanese territory.
# "UNRWA refuses to mediate in paying the salaries of Palestinian employees"
On 30 April, the website reported that UNRWA had refused to be an intermediary in paying the salaries of the Palestinian Authorities' employees. The agency said it considered that its mediation would harm the Palestinian cause and that UNRWA’s mission is to provide the best services for Palestinian refugees and to minimize their suffering.
I- People with no nationality
# "The Dubai Film Festival Launches with 115 Movies”
On 10 December, Moheet reported the opening of the third Dubai Film Festival and the strong international presence in the crowd. Moheet focused on the most-touted movies, such as Mohammed Attereify’s Nostalgia, which dramatizes the nostalgia of identity and loyalty through the life of a Palestinian woman living in the United Arab Emirates who feels homesick for Palestine and through a second protagonist who has no nationality but lives in the Emirates. He misses the feeling of belonging to a country.
II- Western Sahara
# "The United States urges Morocco and Algeria to find a settlement for the Sahara dispute"
On 14 May, Moheet reported that the Unites States had urged Morocco and Algeria to begin direct, "unconditional" negotiations to find a settlement for the dispute over Western Sahara dispute, which has strained relations between the two countries for more than 25 years. Moheet reported that the United States had encouraged Moroccan King Mohammed VI to grant Western Sahara autonomy, and praised "dialogues" between the king and political parties, civil-society organizations, and Saharan tribes.
# "The Moroccan King gives amnesty to all Saharan prisoners"
On 22 April, the website reported that King Mohammed VI had granted amnesty to 48 Saharan prisoners. The website considered the case here a dispute over territory "rich in phosphates and maybe oil" between Morocco and the people of Western Sahara, but did not overtly cover the issue of autonomy, focusing rather on the king’s offer of amnesty.
# "UNHCR warns against the escalating violence in Iraq"
On 4 November, Moheet reported on the conditions of those displaced by violence within Iraq, and, on the subject of the 1.8 million Iraqi refugees outside the country, quoted the UNHCR as saying that the agency and those countries that receive refugees were unable to meet their needs.
# "A people is begging and a nation is watching"
On 1 May, the website published an article by Ashamikh Idris on the causes of Palestinians' oppression. Idris wrote that the origin and essence of the problem was "the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands since 1948," and denounced “the punishment of the Palestinian people for choosing their own representatives, while the international community calls upon the Arab world to apply democracy and respect human rights.” The West accuses the Hamas government of terrorism, he continued, while a policy of hunger and siege "strengthens Muslims' enmity toward the West generally, and the United States in particular." This situation serves only the interests of "violent organizations" and harms Islam and Muslims, he concluded.
4- Personal Privacy
Moheet covered the right to privacy a few times in the past year, with particular reference to men who engage in homosexual conduct.
# Book review: Into the Looking Glass Wood, a study of the meanings of words and world.
On 10 November, the website published the opinions of Alberto Manguel on freedom of expression and homosexuality outlined in his book Into the Looking Glass Wood: a Study of Words and the World, a collection of essays recently translated from the French by Souliman Harfoush. To Manguel, a word can spark life, and so, he writes, "I am ready to protest in the streets defending the devil's right to sell his book in the market." The article seemed keen to emphasize Alberto’s Jewish roots, while noting that his demands for liberties "may not accord with the orientation of certain societies, especially when he defends the homosexuals and bisexuals and their manners."
Following-up with Moheet
The research team could not follow Moheet as they did other websites during the period from 21 April through 21 May 2006 because the website does not include links to the archive and because the daily service costs money.
As with the other websites in this study, Moheet devotes heavy coverage to human rights violations. Moheet’s editorial line was similar to the other sites surveyed, as was its focus on Iraq, the United States, and Israel/Palestine, three countries in which human rights violations are concentrated.
# Moheet resembles other websites included in this study in dividing the world into the Islamic world, the Western world, and Asia. It also presents a special section on “Arab Affairs,” which concentrates on the Palestinian and Iraqi files, and accounts for the preponderance of coverage on Iraq, Israel, and the United States.
# Following up the Israeli-Lebanese war and the Arabic and international dimensions was one of the most important issues during the year. Notably, Moheet does not use the word “Jews” as often as it does “Zionists” to describe Israelis. This means that it differentiates between the Jewish religion and Zionism as a political movement, which we count to the site’s credit.
# Sectarian divisions within Lebanon disappeared in the website's coverage of the war in Lebanon. It did not discriminate between Shiites and Sunnis or Muslims and Christians.
# Moheet’s forum allowing for reader participation is one of the site’s most important areas. It is a page for studies, reporting, and articles more than it is a space for casual participation by readers. The page included almost all the topics in our study, but also raised some topics did not appear in the website’s editorial coverage, such as the refugees from the Golan Heights.
# Rather than concentrating of refugees’ rights as outlined in the relevant international conventions, the website tended to cast the issue as a conflict between different powers with different interests. The site also focused on the Islamic dimension and was at pains to show Islam’s compatibility with international human rights conventions.
# The website tackled the issue of violence against women and women's work. It was keen to show that the Muslim woman got different rights according to Islam.
# The website is interested in the case of Palestinian, Sudanese, and Iraqi refugees and in the role of international institutions such as UNHCR and UNRWA in aiding them. It presented the Sudanese government’s point of view regarding Darfur and its refusal to allow the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Sudanese territory.
# The website raised the issue of the right to privacy a few times, and particularly restrictions on the rights of men who engage in homosexual conduct.