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Pan-Arab News TV Station al-Mayadeen

The New Regressive Leftist Media

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Christine Crone

This book is the first comprehensive research conducted on the pan-Arab TV station al-Mayadeen – an important representative of the post-2011 generation of Arab satellite news media. Likewise, it is an investigation of a growing political trend and ideological discourse in the Arab world, which the book identifies as The New Regressive Left. The book sheds light on overlooked parts of the Arab population, which neither identified with the vision of the young activists initiating the uprisings, nor with the ambition of the growing Islamist tendency that followed. Rather it voices a grouping of Shia Muslims, religious minorities, parts of the Arab Left, secular cultural producers, and supports of the resistance movements brought together by their shared fear of the future.

Drawing on a wide variety of programmes from the station’s first four years and on interviews with staff members, the book captures how a TV station can play a role in the production of ideology through e.g. its composition of programmes, collaborations, events, iconization of cultural figures, choice of aesthetics, as well as through its recycling of cultural heritage and already existing ideological concepts. Overall, four ideological core concepts emerges, namely: the support of the resistance, the rejection of Sunni Islamism, the acceptance of authoritarianism, and the challenging of neoliberalism. Taking seriously a media outlet such as al-Mayadeen and the worldview driving an ideological discourse such as The New Regressive Left seems more acute than ever if we want to grasp the developments in a post-2011 Arab world.

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3. The Creation of an Icon: The Case of Jamila Bouhired

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This chapter explores al-Mayadeen’s celebration of Jamila Bouhired, a former Algerian freedom fighter who participated in the Algerian war of independence against the French colonial power. Jamila Bouhired – who was a renowned public figure in the Arab world in her youth – had been almost forgotten by the media, when in 2013, Ghassan bin Jeddo decided to bring her back into the spotlight, orchestrating a big public celebration of her life. The case of Jamila Bouhired clearly illustrates the nostalgic sentiment (pathos) permeating at al-Mayadeen through the celebration of her as an embodiment (ethos) of a certain time in history and a certain set of values, just as it gives an indication of the future role Latin America is going to play at the station. The celebration draws the first contours of an ideology in the making, as the four ideological pillars of The New Regressive Left are all visible – some blurry and indirectly, others obvious and very concretely. While the support of al-muqawama is both central and articulated, al-Mayadeen’s composition of Bouhired as an icon also contains: the rejection of Sunni Islamism, the acceptance of authoritarian rule, and the challenging of the hegemony of neoliberalism. Furthermore, I argue that al-Mayadeen’s intention in re-launching this heroine from the past was to create an icon that vey concretely promotes the contemporary political ambitions of the station.

On 3 December 2013, al-Mayadeen organised a big public entertainment show at the UNESCO Palace in downtown Beirut. Artists and activists from the ←75...

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