Why let Islamic values get in the way of making good money?

There’s nothing like a little money to help put aside those nagging issues of principles, honor and just doing the right thing.
No, I’m sorry, it’s not a little money, but $26.7 million (SAR100 million) that eases one’s conscience. I’m referring to the Rotana Media Group that just inked a deal that gives News Corp., which owns the Muslim-hating, Saudi-bashing Fox News, a 10 percent stake in the Saudi company. The deal apparently leaves the door open for News Corp. to purchase another 10 percent of Rotana.
The agreement looks to give Rotana, a part of the conglomerate Kingdom Holding Company, a 30 percent market share in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Rotana’s regional reach will exceed the Dubai-based and Saudi-owned MBC.
News Corp. is run by Australian Rupert Murdoch, who has allowed his Fox News to run amok on cable TV with the likes of Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, a pair of conservatives who use the word “Muslim” as an epithet.
Saudi Arabia has spent considerable energy since 9/11 attempting to correct the stereotypes and outright lies about Islam, but whatever campaigns Saudis lead takes a backseat to the Fox propaganda machine.
Shortly after the Ft. Hood attacks that left 12 US soldiers and one civilian dead at the hands of a Muslim, Fox trotted out Michelle Malkin to give her two cents about the motives behind Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. Malkin, who wrote a book arguing that interning Japanese-Americans during World War II was just fine and mass internments should be brought back today, railed against “Muslim soldiers with an attitude” who are able to “infiltrate” the US military with “jihadi intentions.”
Another Fox News host suggested that all Muslim military personnel be treated as “potential threats.”
In 2006, Glenn Back demanded the US Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison “prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.”
For every interfaith dialogue conference sponsored by Saudi Arabia to promote tolerance, Fox is there with a sledgehammer to knock it down.
Yet, according to Rotana, Islamophobia should never get in the way of the good business deal. Rotana’s partnership with News Corp., and by extension Fox, tacitly endorses the American media’s perpetuation of Islamophobia. The Kingdom Holding Company has owned 5.7 percent of the voting shares in News Corp. since 2005.
The Saudi media giant’s relationship with News Corp. has never been a secret. After all, Rotana carries Fox in Saudi Arabia. This deal, however, gives News Corp. access to more than 2,000 Arabic movies, the largest Arabic language music library in the world, and even to Lebanese pop stars Haifa Wehbe and Elissa and Egyptian Amr Diab.
Saudis can be their own worst enemies. They have no problem boycotting Danish goods over offensive cartoons. They may stop vacationing in Switzerland because its voters want a nationwide ban on minarets on mosques. And for goodness sake let’s make sure that not only do we boycott Israeli goods, but the countries that do business with Israel.
Our true colors, however, show when the stakes are much higher the values we cherish take a back seat.
It’s a good thing that Rotana wants to strengthen its position in the Arab media market. But its influence stops there. It’s evident that the Kingdom Holding Company’s influence in News Corp. and Fox doesn’t amount to much.
The same can’t be said for News Corp., which has the true global reach. The company continues to spew its anti-Muslim rhetoric almost daily. It’s only a matter of time before their garbage is routinely aired in Arab markets.
Often it’s impossible to gauge the true motives and the politics of the people. Certainly we often are required to put aside politics to ensure that our businesses remain healthy and profitable. The politics of News Corp., however, is obvious and detrimental to Saudi interests. Rotana may profit from its relationship with Muslim haters, but I’m not sure a pact with the devil will help the country in the long run.

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About Sabria Jawhar

Sabria Jawhar is a Saudi columnist and reporter for the Jeddah-based English-language daily newspaper Saudi Gazette. She currently lives in Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom, where she is a PhD student at the University of Newcastle. She is considered one of the leading female journalists in Saudi Arabia, where she covered breaking news events at a time when such news coverage was open only to men. Her news beats included the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior. In the summer of 2005, she earned a Fellowship at the prestigious Korean Press Foundation and Yonsei Communication Research Institute in Seoul, South Korea. In 2007 she was a panelist in the United Nations 15th International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East in Tokyo, Japan. She earned her bachelor’s of arts degree in English language and literature at the King Abdul Aziz University and a master’s degree in applied linguistics at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah. Her column archives can be found at her website http://www.saudiwriter.blogspot.com/

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