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BJA to help find jobs for Al Wasat journalists

Manama, May 4, 2011

The Bahrain Journalists Association (BJA) said yesterday it was prepared to help find jobs for all journalists at Arabic newspaper Al Wasat that decided to close down next week.

It said it was confident the board of directors was not forced to take the decision, but called on them to ensure that all reporters and staff were paid full settlement.

'We request all board members that the rights of journalists and staff should not be violated and they should receive full settlement after the newspaper is shut down,' said a BJA spokesman.

'The association regrets the decision by Al Wasat's board to stop publication, but is confident that it was not forced (by the government) to take it. We are ready to defend the journalists and will find them jobs in other media establishments.'

The newspaper's board reportedly decided to close down the paper following indications of enormous revenue losses over the last month, with no sign of improvement.

Some shareholders reportedly recommended a three-month waiting period in case market trends changed.

However, there were also unconfirmed reports surfacing that some radical wing of the board insisted on the closure.

Al Wasat editor- in-chief Obaidli Al Obaidli told the Gulf Daily News that he was not in a position to comment on the issue.

He was appointed last month after his predecessor Dr Mansoor Al Jamri was sacked. Al Wasat was suspended on April 2 and resumed publication the next day after three top officials, including Dr Al Jamri, were sacked by the paper.

Prosecutors later questioned the three and according to reports they will appear before Public Prosecution on May 9.

Authorities accused Al Wasat and Dr Al Jamri of distorting facts and reporting selective details in a deliberate attempt to influence its readership during a critical period.

This followed a show aired last month on Bahrain TV accusing the opposition newspaper of deliberately publishing fake news items.

The station provided evidence that appeared to show Al Wasat took news from foreign Arabic newspapers and online forums, changed the details and falsely reported that the incidents took place in Bahrain.

One example was an article on March 28 about a Bahraini who claimed he had been assaulted by security forces, but the accompanying photograph allegedly showed a Moroccan national assaulted by Moroccan police more than five years ago.

The original article about the Moroccan assault is said to have appeared in Saudi newspaper Al Watan on December 17, 2005.

Also on March 28, Al Wasat claimed a doctor called Hassan Marhoon had his car vandalised in Sanad.

However, authorities claim it was simply a rehash of an old article written about Bahraini MP Adnan Al Malki, whose car was targeted during elections last October.

On March 26, the newspaper reported an eight-year-old boy was assaulted by a security official in Manama and quoted the child's uncle that the attack happened after noon prayers, while the child was on his way to a toy store with his mother and brothers. 

Changed

However, Bahrain TV tracked down the original article to a Palestinian newspaper, which reported the incident happened in Jerusalem on June 27 - suggesting the places and names had been changed to suit the plot.

Al Wasat also reported that a teenager was arrested after security forces raided his home in Sanad on March 24.

It quoted the 15-year-old's family saying riot police and military personnel raided his home, but Bahrain TV in the show said the details were copied from an article that appeared in the paper last November - with only the boy's name, age and location changed.

The Central Informatics Organisation replied and said the child's name, Hussain Mansoor Taher, did not exist in its official records - while the photograph that accompanied the article was used with a story on a raid on a terrorist cell in Hamad Town in 2007.

Al Wasat, a widely circulated newspaper, was founded in 2008 by Dr Al Jamri.

It was set up after reforms by His Majesty King Hamad, allowing Dr Jamri, an opposition figure, to establish an Arabic daily.

Last year, Arabic daily Al Waqt printed its last edition on May 3, as it was struggling for funds especially after the situation worsened following a global financial crisis. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Journalists | Association | BJA | Al Wasat | Arabic newspaper |

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