Al Jazeera Chief Calls Media Penalties 'a Risk to Freedom'

February 17, 2008

Author: Eric Pfanner

Source: International Herald Tribune

Wadah Khanfar, director general of the Al Jazeera Network, said Sunday that he was considering ways to challenge a measure adopted by the Arab League last week authorizing member governments to penalize broadcasters that offended religious or political authorities.

A charter approved by representatives of a majority of the 22 Arab League governments, meeting in Cairo last week, calls on broadcasters to air only shows that "conform with the religious and ethical values of Arab society." It calls on governments to revoke the work permits of the employees of media organizations that violate the regulations.

Khanfar said that while Al Jazeera supported some provisions in the document, like a ban on obscenity, other passages were aimed at cracking down on free speech and political dissent.