The Crescent Report

March 23, 2010

HR 2278: A Clear and Present Danger to Our Freedom of the Press

Filed under: From the Desk of Imam Mahdi Bray — Imam Mahdi Bray @ 3:11 pm

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Check out the piece below!
Imam Mahdi Bray

Quote of the Day: “The greatest problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.”.

HR 2278: A Clear and Present Danger to Our Freedom of the Press

WASHINGTON, DC. (MASNET) Mar. 23, 2010 – On Monday, March 22nd, a group of distinguished national leaders, journalists, and diplomats gathered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to speak out on what has become a major national and international challenge to the rights of free speech and Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of the press in the United States.

The press conference was moderated by Mounzer Sleiman, a founding member of the Center for American and Arab Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. Other participants at the press event included Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Ambassador Hussein Hassouna of the League of Arab States, Ms. Clothilde Le Coz of Reporters Without Borders, and Imam Mahdi Bray of Muslim American Society Freedom.

The focus of this press conference was an expose of HR 2278, and the potential impact that this bill might have on the operation of predominantly Arab language and Muslim electronic media in America. But chances are that, unless you are a professional journalist, or a person who follows the minutiae of national legislation, you’ve never heard of this nefarious bill, which was actually passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in December, 2009 by a vote of 395 to 3.

What exactly is this resolution? Literally, HR 2278 would require the President of the United States to submit to the Congress a report on media outlets in the Middle East that are involved in “Anti-American incitements to violence.” Further, under the provisions of the resolution, the President would be required to supply to Congress a country-by-country-list of media outlets and satellite companies that are suspected of engaging in such incitements.

The bill is now under review by the United States Senate, and there is no information on when the proposed legislation will be taken up there.

But what else does HR 2278 mean? First, it signifies the growing aggressiveness on the part of “pro-American”(read, pro-Israel) constituents in the United States who fear that American minds will be contaminated by opposing views broadcast on non-US media outlets in the Middle East, like Al Manar television, which openly supports the Hezbollah Party in Lebanon and maintains a close relationship with the ruling party in Iran.

But this law could also impact the availability of less “political” news outlets like Al-Jazeerah and Al-Arabiya television in the United States, which reach growing U.S. audiences with different perspectives on news from the region that are not likely to be seen on U.S. corporate television.

While the proposed bill would target news organizations that allegedly promote anti-American “violence”, there is no clear proposed definition of what “anti-American” actually means, nor is there any reference to the violence committed by U.S. allies in the region. The legislation, if passed, could simply shut down foreign news outlets, or disable their satellite transponder links, if they are deemed to transmit views that oppose U.S. Middle East policies-or the U.S. government’s fundamental support for the policies of Israel.

Freedom of the press is fundamental to any democratic form of government. Likewise, our personal freedoms must allow us to embrace, or reject, the views inherent in our television news consumption. Any attempt to truncate this freedom in the name of “political correctness” must be vigorously opposed and rejected, not only to save our press freedoms, but to insure that the news we receive from around the world is not subject to censorship or control.

Please write to your Senator and demand that they reject the Senate version of HR 2278, and any attempt to impose restrictions on our news sources.

I agree that violence is objectionable. But it is the public news consumer, and not the federal government, that must be free to decide which news to watch, and which source to believe, when it comes to the complex landscape of the Middle East.


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