Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Fans and players react online to Arsene Wegner's club departure

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Syria alleged chemical attack: Gunfire delays deployment of weapons inspectors

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Cashing in on local French currencies

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Life on the canals of northern France

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

What lies ahead for Cuba after the Castros?

Read more

#TECH 24

Discovering and harnessing the power of the sun

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

Can France bid 'adieu' to popular weedkiller glyphosate?

Read more

#THE 51%

Harmful for your health: When gender bias affects medical diagnosis

Read more

REPORTERS

Africa’s donkeys slaughtered for Chinese ‘miracle elixir’

Read more

Middle east

Ex-Syrian news anchor slams state ‘propaganda’

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-02-21

Once the face of Bashar al-Assad’s evening news bulletin, Hani al-Malathi publicly resigned from Syrian state TV last week over what he calls “state-orchestrated misinformation”. He tells FRANCE 24 why he could no longer work for the Assad regime.

Former state TV anchor Hani al-Malathi officially resigned from his post last week. But he had not been seen on air since August last year after having fled to Dubai, where he remains today.

“I will not go back”, he told FRANCE 24 on Monday. “I had the feeling I was taking part in a propaganda campaign orchestrated by the regime”.

Despite his polished media presence, Al-Malathi fails to hide a troubled demeanour. He was one of the journalists who spoke of “armed insurgents” and “terrorist gangs” when protesters took to the streets last March.

Relying almost entirely on the Information Ministry, state journalists not only criminalised anti-regime protesters, but also downplayed army efforts to suppress the uprising. “The regime was desperate to convey the message that nothing was going on in the country,” al-Malathi explains.

“Both state and private media were transmitting false information, and anything that didn’t match up was portrayed as foreign meddling or a conspiracy.”

Al-Malathi says that he was not allowed to interview anybody on air who might contradict the official line.

“Regime mouthpiece”

Al-Malathi says that as a mouthpiece to the regime, state media only worsened the situation during the start of the unrest. “Our attempts to sell them a different story only added fuel to the fire,” he explains. “Instead of calming people down, we actually provoked the protesters to go further, fuelled their anger and reinforced a sense of shared hostility among the public.”

Al-Malathi speaks glumly of a decision by his own channel to devote an entire news bulletin to slamming “so-said foreign propaganda” during a particularly bloody stage of the conflict. “There would be no mention of the crackdown,” he says.

“It was as irresponsible as it was provocative to broadcast footage of cheering pro-regime rallies when on the other side of town, families of victims of the repression were burying their dead.”

Al-Malathi believes that Syrian media has lost all its credibility during the conflict. “There’s not one person left in the country who believes the state media’s version of events,” he says. “Not even the journalists themselves. The few who say they do are too scared to admit the truth.”

Al-Malathi has not returned to Syria since he fled in August and has “no plans” to do so in the near future. Until now, the regime has failed to mention his departure, but he believes his declaration last week is unlikely to go without comment.

“I am expecting some form of backlash concerning my resignation,” he shrugs. For Syrian protesters however, Malathi’s decision will make him a hero.

Date created : 2012-02-20

  • SYRIA

    Syria frees iconic Arab Spring blogger Ghazzawi

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Egypt recalls ambassador to Syria

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Syrian security forces clamp down on Damascus

    Read more

COMMENT(S)