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Al Jazeera was advised by a number of renowned Western journalists during the development of the English-language channel. Zeit” editor Josef Joffe also travelled to Doha. In 2003 he was one of the supporters of the Iraq War and is regarded as an admirer of the USA. With Joffe’s advice, the group showed that its professionalism was important. Even US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently praised the station. He would broadcast real news, US channels should take an example.

Al Jazeera’s strength lies in reporting from regions that neglect even high-profile Western channels like the BBC. Al Jazeera, for example, shows detailed pictures from Sri Lanka, seven years after the tsunami and two years after the civil war. A barely noticed country is analysed on a level that is rare. Muslims form a smaller percentage of the population in Sri Lanka than in some Berlin districts.

This brings the emir worldwide prestige, comforts democrats over the fact that Qatar itself is not a democracy.

Torch of Revolution

Al Jazeera has revolutionised Arabia’s media landscape with reports that were previously unknown between Morocco and Kuwait, almost free reports. And after a man set himself on fire in Tunisia on 17 December in protest against the regime in the country itself, the station mutated into a torchbearer who passes the fire of the revolution through the Arab world. It showed peaceful demonstrators, informed about violence, spread the news to other countries, heated the mood there.

No other broadcaster was and is so close in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. While Western journalists reported on hotel rooftops, Al Jazeera’s reporters roamed the streets, sometimes rushed by dictators’ thugs. Cameraman Ali Hassan al-Jaber, for example, died in Libya in March after being ambushed on his way back from Benghazi.

Tunisia had expelled all reporters from the country’s radio station. But a native Al-Jazeera presenter arranged for his colleagues to report undercover. For days, the station obtained images from the social network Facebook, where Tunisians uploaded mobile phone videos. “Al Jazeera reported on the revolution in a way that Tunisian broadcasters couldn’t,” says Tunisian teacher Adnen Rihane. Especially during the last days of the uprising, the station was an important source of information for people.

But even Al Jazeera doesn’t make it everywhere: “The lack of reporting from Syria shows the limits of the channel,” says Stefan Leder, director of the Orient Institute in Beirut. Even the well-connected Al Jazeera can’t deliver pictures from a secluded, Stalinist country like Syria.

The role of the broadcaster did not go unnoticed in the government headquarters. Libya disturbed signals in half of North Africa in February. Al Jazeera had to change the satellite frequency several times. Egypt’s government had previously banned the channel from the Nilesat satellite for a week. At the same time, then President Hosni Mubarak had Al Jazeera’s signal disrupted by the European Hotbird and Saudi Arabsat satellites. Out of solidarity, ten stations in the region stopped their programmes and broadcast Al Jazeera simultaneously.