I was invited to be on BBC NewsNight on Thursday, 15 December 2011, along with Henry Kissinger, Tawakul Karman, Simon Schama, and Jeremy Greenstock to speak on the prospects of the Arab Spring. They emailed me the following questions to answer before the show, and I gave them a brief on my position on each: (copied & paste from the email here:
My brief answers were as following:
When I got on the show, which will hopefully be uploaded to youtube so I can posted here, I was faced with the most western-centric, orientalist, and racist point of view on the Arab Spring. Comments about the Arab spring ranged from “a cry for western democracy,” calling the Middle East “the Muslim world,” “Islamist threat to democracy and prosecution of minorities,” to posing “western technology as what made these revolutions possible.” It was impossible enough to bare Henry Kissinger’s deep voice on the other end of the line being asked as an “expert” on the Middle East let alone the Arab spring & “Islamist scare” they portrayed. Henry Kissinger?! The one whose exact polices ruined our country and many others to the ground?!! unbelievably stupid. I was going to explode out of frustration for not getting ANY chance to address these comments (insults in my opinion). I hardly had a minute all together to express my point of view or have any questions directed to me except 2 compared to the other guests, who dominated the already dominated western/oriental point of view on the Arab spring. The least any professional media outlet would have done especially speaking on the topic of “democracy” was to give an equal time to all the different speakers or the different point of views.
I was able to get in 2 sentences about the western (US in particular) aid to SCAF, who is leading counter-revolution and acting on the “prosecution of minorities” that other speakers wanted to label it as the “Islamist threat,” but I linked it that it is SCAF who is prosecuting minorities alluring to the Maspero massacre. I also added that the west has NO positive impact what so ever on these revolutions in fact we are going exactly against it.
I sent them an email afterwards explaining my frustration, and requesting to never be invited again on NewsNight as a guest. I do expect an apology and a response to my email copied & pasted below.
“BBC News Night
When you invited me on the show, I was okay to arrange my own ride in
the middle of the night when streets are not safe and activists are
being kidnapped by state government & army everyday to fulfill your request
of being a guest on the show. Secondly, I requested to be introduced
as “a revolutionary socialist activist” and you said no problem, but
Kristy Wark did NOT. I was asked by Jake Morris to give my opinion about
possible questions on the show, and I had no problem responding on the
spot with my opinion.
As the show went on, I noticed that you had total of 5 different
guests including Henry Kissinger, who if you had done any kind of
research or simply took my answers to your questions seriously, you
would know that my point of view is the exact opposite. YET, your
presenter Kristy Wark completely cut me off, and never gave me the
chance to get an equal opportunity as the other guests to express my
point of view. Please review the tapes and actually calculate the
amount of seconds i was able to speak compared to the other guests
when I have a complete opposite opinion of this very orientalist,
western-centric, racist discussion of the Arab Spring. If you saw that
i was too much or too “radical” for your racist/discriminatory show to
cut me off like you did, why did you invite me & not give me enough
time to express my point of view like others? or is it because i
didn’t follow the western-based argument about the “Muslim world” or
the ignorant “western technology” comment from Greenstock, so you shut
me up? I felt very disrespected for bringing me there in the middle of
the night to only frustrate me by not giving me a chance to speak. I
would have been much more comfortable sitting at home and not getting
the few seconds I got on the most insulting show on the Arab Spring
that i have ever witnessed.
Please do not ask me for any news night interviews again. Your entity
incites and affirms the western agenda that our revolution stands
against and if you are professional journalists you would at least
give all sides an equal opportunity to present their view, but you
chose Henry Kissinger (with all his history) to be more of an “expert”
on the Arab Spring (given how much time you allowed him to speak) than
someone fighting there and knows more about what is happening (given
why you invited me in the first place). The least you would have done
is an equal time to each speaker but you proved to me how
unprofessional you are.
Thank you for a night of deep frustration.”
Following day I received this email from deputy producer of NewsNight, Liz Gibbons:
This was my response:
“I am not changing anything about my blog, and you can sue me. Just
because you kept inviting me to report on what was happening during
the 18 days of Tahrir doesn’t give you any right to insult me in
return on the show and expect me to be okay with it. I felt
disrespected, and violated by the condescending tone and the whole
orientation of the discussion. All the feedback I got from those who
saw the show, completely agreed that I was cut off by Kirst Wark, and
you can check twitter for that. I can hold whatever opinion I have and
I know that you will never accept it because you are unprofessional
and your righteous indignation is the proof of it.”
I have no comment.