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CNN ... why?

Bahrain is probably the only country in the region that does not censor any publication or broadcaster.

Its open-door media policy welcomes documentary filmmakers alongside journalists and authors from all over the world.

Unfortunately yesterday, highly respected broadcaster CNN abused this privilege by screening an incredibly one-sided programme called Poverty in Bahrain.

Their misleading footage focused on one family, labelling them examples of 'unhappy citizens' - completely ignoring Bahrain's catalogue of on-going achievements, including myriad housing projects for the needy, new schools, burgeoning health centres, and pioneering social services in both public and private sectors.

This must reflect the extreme naivety of producer Hala Qorani, who has allowed herself and her film crew to be lured into exaggerated and unrepresentative situations.

I wonder what they hoped to achieve by such blatantly untrue, unfair and biased reporting. Bahrain is presently buzzing on the cusp of an economic boom, which must have been obvious to these cameramen and 'journalists' as they toured various parts of the country.

They could see for themselves signs of progress and construction everywhere.

This begs the question, has western journalism sunk into an era of moral decadence? Do only sad, negative views, murders, poverty and death push up viewing figures? Are we to understand that this new breed of Hollywood-style filmmakers have adopted the culture of hate, death, destruction as pre-requisite ingredients for small-screen success?

Western journalism has traditionally been based on impartiality, offering a balanced overview, giving weight to both sides of a story or situation. Yet this CNN debacle smacks of absolute one-sidedness almost to the level of factual blindness! Miss Qorani's team has simply chosen to ignore Bahrain's intelligentsia, its universities, businessmen and political societies. Why were schools and colleges not visited? The sheer scale of progress here is mind-boggling and rigorous in a society bustling with activity.

Ironically also, such irresponsible reportage has been released when the United Nations has bestowed high honour on our Prime Minister for his key role in human development, placing the urban poor at the very centre of Bahrain's modernisation strategy.

It all makes us suspect that CNN's team is not only wrong, but travelled to Bahrain with the full intention of transmitting a false picture of our society to detract from America's shortcomings and make its people feel better off than they really are.

Remember CNN that only a few weeks ago Oprah Winfrey screened a mini-documentary on red-necked Americans, most probably fifth or sixth generation immigrants who have nothing to dream about or look forward to by being American. In fact one lady, with tears in her eyes, said " Thirty-eight million people like me are suffering with no medical services, no proper housing, not even a semi-decent salary to put nutritious food on our tables".

"But at least I thank God that we are a little better off than others," she said.

I implore CNN's producer to turn her cameras on the suffering of millions of her own people - not come to Bahrain and fabricate films to falsely convince yourselves that misery does not exist in the United States.



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