The Palestinian Authority leadership has ordered Palestine TV to stop airing a
popular satirical program that has angered many Palestinians in recent
The show, Watan ala Watar
(Homeland on a String) has been airing
since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, on August 1. The decision to
take it off the air was made by PA Prosecutor- General Ahmed al-Mughni, who said
he received complaints that the program had offended and humiliated a large
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The show has come under fire for allegedly ridiculing
PA policemen, physicians and civil servants, whose representatives threatened to
take legal action against Palestine TV and the producers of Watan ala
PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo, who is in charge of the
Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, said that he would abide by the
prosecutor-general’s decision and stop airing the satirical program. However, he
expressed opposition to the decision, saying it created a dangerous precedent,
and harmed artistic work in the Palestinian territories.
is a dangerous precedent in the history of the Palestinian Authority,” Abed
Rabbo said. “The prosecutor- general has appointed himself as the man in charge
of artistic work, who is responsible for the public’s taste of things. This is a
grave breach of freedom of expression and creativity.”
prosecutor-general’s office said it had received complaints from the Anti-
Corruption Institution, the Physicians’ Union and commanders of the PA police
force in the West Bank against the program.
Bassam Zakarneh, chairman of
the Public Workers Union in the West Bank, welcomed the decision to stop airing
the satire. He claimed that the last few episodes had depicted policemen as
drunkards and ridiculed Yasser Arafat, and prominent poet Mahmoud
“We can’t allow a small number of people to defame the struggle
of the Palestinian people and use abusive language against some people under the
pretext of freedom of expression,” Zakarneh said.
Imad Farajeen, one of
the producers of Watan ala Wata
r, strongly criticized the decision to stop
airing the program as a blow to democracy.
“This decision is not only
about Watan ala Watar
, but also about general freedoms – especially freedom of
expression,” he said.
Farajeen added that the ban would not deter him and
his friends from uploading the show on YouTube and presenting it in other public
Meanwhile, Birzeit University media lecturer, Juman Qunies,
agreed with Farajeen.
“We are accustomed to some political subjects being
off limits, such as not mocking a political party if there are Palestinian unity
talks... The alarming thing now is that we can’t talk about the social problems
that we suffer from,” said Qunies.
Nida Tuma contributed to this report.