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Why Arab states are wrong to try to shut down Al Jazeera

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Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist and former Ferris professor of journalism at Princeton University.

Arab consumers of news and commentary were upset this week to find out that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt are demanding the closure of Al Jazeera and its affiliate stations. The Kuwaiti leadership delivered a 13-point list of demands made by the four countries that have imposed a blockade on Qatar on charges that it supports terrorism.

Condition No. 6 on the list calls for the closure of Al Jazeera Satellite Network and its affiliates, while No. 11 calls for the closure of other Qatari-funded websites, newspapers and media outlets.

Established in 1996 and staffed mostly by former BBC-trained professional reporters, Al Jazeera was a breath of fresh air in a region that only understood news as the product of governments rather than the public’s right to know. Its motto –“the opinion and the counter opinion” — quickly won it huge audiences in an Arab world that was thirsty for any........

© Washington Post