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Arab Media Hesitant on the Armenian Genocide Centennial

During the First World War, when the Arabs from Hijaz to the Levant were revolting against the Ottomans aspiring for independence, Arab journalists were among the first of those who reported on a daily basis the mass atrocities being committed against the Armenians by the Ottoman Empire.

Syrian journalist Fayez al-Ghussein’s book “Martyred Armenia” and numerous articles, reports and literary works by others like Mohamed Kurd Ali, Fikri Abaza, Wali ud-Din Yagan and others played a monumental role in documenting the day-to-day systematic annihilation of the entire Armenian population.

After 100 years, hesitation and mixed reactions dominate the Arab media regarding the issues related to the Armenian Genocide.

Saudi based Al-Arabiya ran a headline on April 23 with the word “genocide” in quotes but the then removed the quotes in its articles published the next day:

24 April 2015:

Lebanese Armenians commemorate genocide

Armenians around the world commemorate genocide (Photo gallery)

25 April 2015:

Erdogan lashes out at EU and leaders calling Armenian massacre ‘genocide’

26 April 2015:

Erdogan: Russia, France ‘last’ to talk about genocide

Qatar-based Aljazeera’s main Arabic service, known for the Islamist tendencies of many of its anchors and reporters, although did not give  much space to the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, but one of the two articles published on the days of the commemoration at least made more resonance with the general understanding of human rights worldwide. It was titled “Armenian Massacres… Between Historical Weight and Political Dimensions.” The other article written by an Istanbul-born reporter, sounded more like the mouthpiece of the Turkish government, titled “The Ottoman Government’s Position Regarding the Armenian Atrocities.”

Arab Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait had official delegations at the Armenian Genocide Centennial commemorations in Yerevan. The UAE delegation was headed by the minister of health. However, there was very little attention to the events by the Gulf media. Khaleej Times published only one article on April 24, titled “Armenia marks centennial of killing of 1.5 million.” While among several Gulf based TV stations, Sky News Arabia was the only one actively covering the centennial events, always caring to put the word genocide in quotes.

23 April 2015

جدل متجدد بين “إبادة” الأرمن و”قتلهم”
Renewed debate of Armenian “Genocide” or “Killing”

24 April 2015
Armenia… A Century After “Genocide”
أرمينيا.. قرن على “الإبادة”
Armenia Commemorates The Centennial of the Ottoman Massacres
أرمينيا تحيي الذكرى المئوية للمجازر العثمانية
Why Turkey Doesn’t Recognize The “Armenian Genocide”?
لماذا لا تعترف تركيا بـ”مذابح الأرمن”؟
“Armenian Genocide” Centennial (Photo Gallery)
“مئوية” مذابح الأرمن
International Presence at the Commemoration of Armenian Massacres
حضور دولي في إحياء ذكرى مذابح الأرمن

London-based Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat published a powerful column criticizing the policy of denial which is being carried on under President Erdogan, titled “The Eyes and Ears of Sultan Erdogan Against Armenians and Arabs.” Besides publishing also some informative news pieces.

Coming to the Egyptian media, in the last couple of years there has been several reports and articles criticizing and condemning Turkey and its role in the conflicts across the Middle East. Egypt has been on odds with Turkey since the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood from power in the country. Dozens of Egyptian journalists and media delegations were in Yerevan to cover the centennial events. State funded Al-Ahram published a series of Articles, focusing not only on the Armenian Genocide, but also on the Armenian culture, music and art. Here are some of those headlines:

100 Years After the Armenian Genocide.. No Retreat, no Surrender
مائة عام على مذابح الأرمن .. لا تراجع ولا استسلام
“Armenian Massacres” Questioning The Truth
“مذبحة الارمن ” بين التشكيك والحقيقة
Centennial of Turkish Massacres Against Armenians on the Egyptian Satellite
مئوية المذابح التركية ضد الأرمن على الفضائية المصرية
Armenia: 100 Years On The Battle for the Restoration of Rights
أرمينيا 100عام على معركة استرداد الحق
World leaders join minute’s silence at ceremony marking Armenian genocide
PHOTO GALLERY: Armenians mark 100th anniversary of genocide around the world
Armenian Genocide centennial commemorated in Egypt

The Lebanese media is a pioneer of freedom of speech in the region. Many Lebanese newspapers and TVs devoted special focus to the centennial events. Assafir newspaper, which is known for its pro-Syrian government stance and editorials, published more than a dozen articles in the course of 2-3 days, representing various perspectives. The word genocide was sometimes placed in quotes, sometimes not. Here are the headlines:

Armenians of Diyarbakir: 100 Years of Solitude
2015-04-23 | أرمن دياربكر: 100 عام من العزلة
Armenian President Calls Erdogan to Make a “Stronger” Initiative on the Memorial Day
2015-04-23 | الرئيس الأرميني يدعو إردوغان إلى مبادرة “أقوى” في ذكرى المجازر
Armenia: The Road to Reconciliation Passes Through Recognizing the “Genocide”
2015-04-24 | أرمينيا: المصالحة مع تركيا تمرّ عبر اعترافها بـ«الإبادة»
“Genocide Centennial:” Armenians Are Angry
2015-04-24 | «مئوية الإبادة»: الأرمن.. عاتبون
Armenian Holocaust
2015-04-24 | المحرقة الأرمينية
Armenia Commemorates the First Genocide Centennial
2015-04-24 | أرمينيا تحيي الذكرى المئوية الأولى للإبادة
Armenian Genocide Centennial
2015-04-24 | الذكرى المئوية للإبادة الارمنية
The Memory of the Armenian “Genocide” Lives After 100 Years
2015-04-24 | ذكرى “إبادة” الأرمن حية بعد مئة عام
On Armenian Genocide Denial
2015-04-24 | في إنكار المجزرة الأرمنية
We Are All Armenians
2015-04-25 | كلنا أرمن
We Recognize The Genocide
2015-04-25 | «نعترف بالإبادة»
“Armenian Parties” Commemorate the Centennial of the “Genocide:” Our Revolution is Against Injustice
2015-04-25 | «الأحزاب الأرمنية» تحيي مئوية «الإبادة»: ثورتنا ضد الظلم
World TV Screens Unite on the Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day
2015-04-25 | شاشات العالم تتوحّد في ذكرى الإبادة الأرمنيّة
Erdogan Attacks European Leaders: They Rely on Armenian Lies
2015-04-25 | أردوغان يهاجم قادة أوروبا: يعتمدون الأكاذيب الأرمنية
The Misery of the World’s Conscience
2015-04-27 | بؤس الضمير العالمي
On Armenians, Arabs and a Century of Displacement…
2015-04-27 | عن الأرمن والعرب وقرن من التشرد…
Turkey and its “Costly Isolation”
2015-04-27 | تركيا و«عزلتها الثمينة»

Beirut-based Al-Nahar newspaper, known for its more liberal editorials, also published lengthy articles and reports on the centennial events.

Huge Demonstrations on the Centennial Commemoration: We Won’t Forget And Turkey Must Recognize and Compensate
مسيرة ضخمة ومهرجان في ذكرى الإبادة: لن ننسى… وعلى تركيا الاعتراف والتعويض
New Dawn After 100 Years
بعد مئة عام فجر جديد
Arab Eyewitnesses on the Armenian Genocide
شواهد العرب على إبادة الأرمن

London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, which means Arab Jerusalem, has been known as one of the most  liberal and critical platforms in the Arab media. Most of its editors and reporters have been secular Palestinian intellectuals since its foundation in the late 1980s until 2003, when it was bought by Qatar. Since then, the newspaper’s policy has changed. Here are some of its headlines:

My Mother’s Eyes.. Thoughts on the Genocide of the Armenian People

عينا أمّي… أفكار عن الإبادة الجماعية للشعب الأرمني

Israel Insisting on Not Recognizing the Armenian Massacres

إسرائيل مصممة على عدم الاعتراف بمذبحة الأرمن

Armenia Launches the Formal Commemoration of the Centennial of Armenian Massacres

ارمينيا تبدأ مراسم إحياء الذكرى المئوية لمذابح الأرمن

Lebanese Information Minister Demands From the International Community to Restore Justice for the Armenian Cause

وزير الإعلام اللبناني يطالب المجتمع الدولي بإحقاق الحق في القضية الأرمنية

Editorial: Centennial Commemoration of Armenian Tragedy.. Beyond Labels

الذكرى المئوية لمأساة الأرمن.. أبعد من التسميات – رأي القدس

Coming to war torn Syria, the media divisiveness on this issue somehow also mirrors the shattered image of the county in every other aspect. Turkey’s support for the armed rebel forces in the north of the country has pushed the Syrian government in the last few years to adopt a harsher stance against Turkey, using also the occasion of the Armenian Genocide anniversary. While the head of the Syrian National Assembly headed an official delegation at the Armenian Genocide Centennial commemoration in Yerevan, media sources linked with the Syrian government published numerous reports and news about the commemorative events.

On the other hand, Syrian opposition and activists circles, be it on social media or television and newspapers were more inclined to the official Turkish government position rather than Turkish civil society and the activist community inside Turkey. The Turkish government has been sponsoring the rebel movement and opposition circles since the start of the Syrian conflict. The owner of Orient TV, a staunch opposition figure, has been regularly posting hate speech against Syria’s minorities, especially Armenians, for over a year now. A report published by Orient TV claims that the atrocities committed by the Syrian Government is heavier than the century old “Armenian Massacres,” making an unsuccessful comparison by delving into victimhood competition involving denialism.

All in all, Arab media interpretations regarding the Armenian Genocide are very much connected with the respective country or the political circle to which it is connected. It mirrors the state of the divisiveness and uncertainty among Arab opinion makers regarding major human rights issues across the region and worldwide.


Original source: http://civilnet.am/2015/04/29/arab-media-armenian-genocide-harout-ekmanian-voices/

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About Harout Ekmanian

Journalist, lawyer, netizen and an observant gentleman.

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