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Pro-Hamas news site accuses Ma’an news agency of Fatah bias

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by Palestinian Filastin al-An website on 16 July; subheadings as published

    The clear change in the media policy of the Ma'an News Agency was not coincidental. The sudden change in its policy and its bias in favour of the Fatah movement was preceded by threats and blandishments by members of the traitorous trend in Fatah. Thus the Ma'an News Agency started an unprecedented campaign of slander, lies and fabrications against the Hamas movement and the government led by Isma'il Haniyah under the guise of translations from the Jewish press and under the title of exclusive sources, and more recently by citing Fatah seditious spokesmen and leaders of the traitorous trend that was defeated in Gaza.

Bias in exchange for money

    Sources close to the Ma'an News Agency have disclosed that those in charge of the agency received funds from the Palestinian Presidency in order to completely side with the presidency and support it morally during the recent incidents in which the Al-Qassam Brigades took control of the Gaza Strip and imposed security on it.

    The sources, who declined to give their names, told Filastn al-An that Ma'an was subjected to threats by the Fatah movement and by influential figures in the Presidency's security detail in an attempt by them to gag mouths and suppress freedoms. These figures used the argument that "if you are not with me you are against me." In fact, Ma'an gave in to these threats and money was channelled to a number of figures in charge of the news agency so that it would change its policy and side with Fatah.

    The Ma'an News Agency was established as a project funded by a Dutch organization to the tune of 3m US dollars for a period of three years. When these three years were nearly up, Ma'an needed someone to fund it. At this time and after the Gaza events, the Fatah movement wanted a media organization that would slip poison into the honey and that would completely side with it. Fatah found Ma'an to give money to in exchange for bias in the presentation of news stories into which it would slip poison.

Polishing the heads of corruption

    It has been noticed that Ma'an has been slandering some insignificant coupist figures. It has run a report that Israel has requested the replacement of Saeb Erekat. We do not know whether this news agency, which claims to be independent, is disparaging other people's minds or is blind from seeing the truth, or if the money it has received in exchange for running these reports has blinded it from seeing the interest of the homeland!

    The Ma'an News Agency is confirming its bias every day. In the past, MP Mushir al-Masri accused Saeb Erekat of trying to separate the West Bank from the Gaza Strip in the implementation of a truce - something that Erekat repeatedly confirmed in his press conferences on the pretext that this exclusion [of the West Bank from the truce] was needed in order to arrange the conditions of the wanted persons before a truce could be declared in the West Bank.

    This measure was contrary to what had been agreed among the factions, which called for the truce to be comprehensive in all parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In its report, Ma'an said it had received information from a "reliable" source that Israel did not want Saeb Eerkat as a negotiator and that this request was made to the United States three months ago. How, then, did Israel accept Erekat as a negotiator of a truce a few weeks ago?

    Ma'an has resumed polishing some figures renowned for their corruption and suspicious contacts with the Israeli enemy. Erekat's history is well known to the children of the Palestinian people. His moral problems when he was at university are known to us. Our people do not forget Erekat's warm and very cordial meetings with his Israeli counterparts during the brutal massacres against the children of our struggling people.

Hamas threatens Ma'an

    Ma'an News Agency has claimed that its chief editor has received direct threats from Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum - something that the latter has vehemently denied. In a statement, Barhum said: "In fact, I have spoken to Al-Lahham to draw his attention to some erroneous and inaccurate news reports, quoting Israel sources, affirming the departure of the Italian Community and the preparation of the German community for departure.

    I have also told him that there has been a big change in the editorial policy of Ma'an, which is neglecting news of the attacks carried out by security services elements in the West Bank, such as the burning of the houses of Hasan Yusuf and Dr Aziz Duwayk." Barhum stressed that the conversation between them was cordial and did not contain any threats and that he told Al-Lahham that he would follow up any false report and reveal the truth to the people.

    Despite the media onslaught on Hamas after its military takeover of Gaza - an onslaught launched by suspect media outlets linked to Fatah or those claiming to be independent but which publish false news and rumours besmirching Hamas - Ma'an continues to claim it is neutral and independent, although it distorts news and politicizes events as dictated to it by Jamal Nazzal and his likes who pant for a chance to speak to the media. Nazzal has become one of those in charge of the editorial policy of Ma'an, in addition to Nasir al-Lahham.

    During the recent events in the Gaza Strip, Ma'an published reports denouncing the purging of the Gaza Strip of traitors and criminals and praising the criminal murderers hunted down by Hamas. In one of its bulletins, it said the Al-Qassam Brigades had killed Samih al-Madhun, a commander in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, without mentioning that Al-Madhun had killed and tortured many Hamas members and ordinary citizens, that he was directly responsible for many acts of murder and lawlessness in Gaza City, and that he used to boast that he had killed many members of Hamas.

Haniyah and Bahr justify the coup

    After legal Prime Minister Isma'il Haniyah's speech after the events, a speech which called for unity, was balanced, and did not contain any tension, Ma'an, without a minimum of professionalism, ran a story saying that "Ahmad Bahr and Isma'il Hniyah are justifying the coup that occurred in the Gaza Strip." This news agency, which has agreed to be controlled by some insignificant figures, such as Ahmad Nazzal, insists that what happened in the Gaza Strip was a military coup, ignoring the crimes of murder committed against many Hamas members, ordinary citizens, and some journalists.

250 Fatah prisoners

    In another news story on Fatah prisoners that the Israeli occupation intends to release, this independent news agency did not mention that the prisoners were only from the Fatah movement. This is considered a clear forgery of news and an attempt to deceive the people by telling them that the release of the prisoners will come as a goodwill gesture by the Israeli enemy. Thus this news agency deliberately ignored that this release is not a goodwill gesture by the occupation but a process designed to widen the schism and separation between the Palestinians because it distinguishes between the sons of Hamas and the sons of Fatah.


The scandal of the latest opinion poll

    As for the scandal of opinion polls with which the Ma'an News Agency tampers as it wants, it has become clear to all those who watched the news agency in the most recent opinion poll, which asked the question: If early elections are held, whom will you elect as President of the PNA? 1) Mahmud Abbas (Abu-Mazin), 2) Khalid Mish'al 3) Marwan al-Barghuthi (Abu-al-Qassam), 4) Isma'il Haniyah (Abu-al-Abd), 5) Independent figure?

    The results of the opinion poll showed that on the first day Prime Minister Isma'il Haniyah received 15,000 votes while Mahmud Abbas received only 940 votes. On the fourth day and after the great victory of Haniyah over Abbas in the poll, Ma'an resorted to tampering with the results of the poll on its website. For every vote given to Haniyah, the news agency automatically gave five votes to Abbas. This was confirmed by our observers who were following the opinion poll conducted by the Ma'an News Agency. This became clear to many who voted for Haniyah and who expressed their denunciation of this cheap method of forging the opinion of the people. This tampering with the mechanism of the poll was evident in the results of the poll in which Abbas got 39 per cent of the votes or 42,976 votes, and Haniyah received 40 per cent of the votes or 43,542 votes.

    Source: Filastin al-An website, in Arabic 16 Jul 07



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