Last week, Al-Jazeera said Syrian authorities confirmed the detention of Parvaz, who holds U.S., Iranian and Canadian citizenship. She works for the news network’s English-language channel.Parvaz joined Al-Jazeera in 2010 and recently reported on the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The station said she graduated from the University of British Columbia, obtained a masters from Arizona University, and held journalism fellowships at both Harvard and Cambridge universities.
Al-Jazeera reporters were allowed to stay in Syria as other reporters were expelled, but two weeks ago the station said it was scaling back its Syrian operations, citing harassment by security forces.Iran has the power to pull a random journalist out of Syrian detention for whatever reason? Or Syria just finding a quick easy way to get rid of an irritant? Or some actual spying going on?
I doubt that the Syrian evil overlord dictatorship people actually had good reason to arrest her, but I suppose anything is possible.
So what's the big deal? Why is this reporter important?
It carries a very small but gradual and nearly inevitable risk that Al-Jazeera's so-called "news" coverage, hitherto a fairly slanted bunch of anti-Western demagoguery and populist "death to the invaders, death to Israel" type stuff - may soon be starting to become a little more nuanced.
Once your very own friends and your own employees start getting attacked, you become more sensitive to finding bad stuff to report on relative to the regimes doing the repression. If Al-Jazeera was based in Israel and their people were dying in sidewalk terror bombings in cafés down the street from their office, you can bet they'd report on the evils of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. But they're not. It's an ARAB news network for the ARAB world which is heavily MUSLIM above all else.
Their coverage might be individually correct and well done in many cases. You'd be hard pressed to find actual lies and un-truths many times. But it's what they choose to report on that's important. The Bin Laden raid becomes a report on the violation of Pakistani sovereignty. A Hellfire drone attack that kills a Taliban leader in Afghanistan becomes a human-interest story on the shattered lives of his family, the women and children and the neighbour that died in the blast and how it's all the fault of the US.
It's not that Al-Jazeera is necessarily wrong in what they report. All these things might be true. But it's a lack of a broad overview and time to fully digest and analyze all facets of a story on the part of their average reader or TV-watcher (not unlike Fox News, here) who have a quick coffee break at work and get 15 seconds of graphic footage of carnage from another US anti-terror mission that happened to also have some collateral damage. BAM. Nose-diving US poll numbers. Hatred and incitement in the streets.
So yes, Ms. Parvaz might be doing the world a small favour by giving her network a chance to sub-consciously re-align itself against tyranny and oppression. There's plenty of that tyranny and oppression to go around, by the way. Iran. North Korea. Syria. Women and gays in Saudi Arabia. Discrimination based on this or that in Africa. And let's throw in a little mis-treatment, lack of due process and torture in Guantanamo Bay, some "Greater Israel" settlers in the West Bank and deprivation in Gaza (damn I wish the Palestinians would do the Gandhi thing and move toward a mass civil resistance nonviolence model) - and you start to see the bigger picture.
Now add the awful things L-e-T and the various Taleban factions are responsible for and it all becomes a little overwhelming.
But yes, good things are coming. But maybe not for Ms. Parvaz.