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Media Workers against the War

Ian Watson | 01.03.2006 22:09 | Anti-militarism | Anti-racism | Globalisation | London

Media Workers Against the War


Press contacts: 07815 111 191, 07801 789 297


Many journalists and media workers are concerned that the UK media are failing to inform the public about events in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine.

In Iraq, news of an occupation that has cost $440bn and over 100,000 lives is often buried within bulletins and publications.

Despite evidence to the contrary, the occupation is presented as a stabilising influence while the Iraqi resistance is demonised as fanatical and sectarian.

Cartoons portraying Islam as a murderous and extremist faith have stoked the racist, inflammatory rhetoric of a “clash of civilisations”.

For these reasons media workers have come together to organise a major rally to shake editors out of their complacency.

As media professionals, we believe we are best placed to criticise the way in which the political establishment has hijacked the media in pursuit its own warmongering agenda.

Speakers at the rally include some of the foremost media critics of the war on terror:

• Yvonne Ridley, captured by the Taliban while reporting for the Daily Express, and now news anchor on the Islam Channel;

• Jonathan Steele and Sami Ramadani, who on the pages of the Guardian have developed a sophisticated critique of the war on terror;

• Mark Steel of the Independent, whose columns strip off the veneer of media consensus over Iraq;

• Tim Lezard, president of the National Union of Journalists, which has consistently voiced journalists’ opposition to the war on terror.

Entitled “The media, Islamophobia and the war on terror”, the rally will take place at 7pm on Tuesday March 7 in Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn WC1.

Media Workers Against the War
Press contacts: 07815 111 191, 07801 789 297


Yvonne Ridley on the media and Iraq:

The military build-up, the “shock and awe” assault and the liberation of Iraq had been constructed on a tissue of lies from politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. The British media is usually very intolerant of lies and liars. What are we going to do with those who lie to their parliament, their country and the world? It now falls on the media to demand the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth because political pressure, from an ineffectual government opposition, is not working.

Jonathan Steele on the Danish cartoons controversy:

A huge responsibility now rests on the mainstream European media. The extremist slogans carried during the anti-cartoon protests do not represent the views of all Muslims and should not be portrayed as such. … Muslims are not only an important part of Europe's new diversity. They are diverse among themselves. To suggest that, because almost all of Europe's Muslims felt offended by the cartoons, they all support slogans calling for revenge and beheadings is as inaccurate as it is for people in Muslim countries to claim that every European approved the cartoons' publication.

Sami Ramadani on the media and Iraq:

Much of [the carnage in Iraq] goes unreported in the British and American media, stripped of context or consigned to the small print. The headlines are reserved for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terrorism, Saddam Hussein's farcical trial and the perennial "exit strategy". We are fed the occupiers' spin, while words of scepticism are deemed jarring. Invited to join a popular BBC radio programme for Iraq's recent elections, I quoted George Bush's accidental brush with reality when he declared: "You can't have free and fair elections in Lebanon under Syrian occupation." An editor politely said: "Sorry Sami, but we are sticking to a positive spin on this one. I am sure we will invite you on other occasions."

Mark Steel on the media and Iraq:

You expect lies, but usually they are found out after a war is over. But in this war the lying is so inept that it gets rumbled the next day. The military briefings must be given by one of those pathological liars you get in pubs. The presenters who front this bilge should say: “We’re here to bring you 24-hour rolling cack that’s been made up. The minute it’s made up you’ll hear abut it.”


After the Hutton report into the Gilligan affair, the new BBC leadership has ensured that “news” from Iraq is bland, superficial and embedded in the occupiers’ point of view.

In the press, an occupation that has cost $440bn and over 100,000 lives is frequently buried on the inside pages or briefs.

The occupation of Iraq is overwhelmingly portrayed as a stabilising influence, while the Iraqi resistance -- despite powerful evidence to the contrary -- is demonised as murderous, sectarian fanatics.

Yet when Muslim despair spills over into terrorist attacks on London transport, the media swallows the government line that terrorism has nothing to do with Iraq.

There is now a media stampede to fall into line behind the government on Iran and soften the public up for a new bombing campaign against Tehran.


MWAW was founded in 1990 by John Pilger and the late Paul Foot to campaign against the first Iraq war. It campaigns against the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, against the racism hysteria over asylum seekers, against Islamophobia, and for freedom for Palestine. It is backed by the NUJ and is an affiliate of the Stop the War Coalition.

For more information on the March 18 demonstrations:

Media Workers Against the War
Press contacts: 07815 111 191, 07801 789 297

Ian Watson
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