Lawsuits, complaints lead PA to cut satirical TV series

Abed Rabbo calls decision "a grave breach of freedom of expression and creativity", says order creates dangerous precedent.

August 17, 2011 19:04
2 minute read.
PLO Exec Ctee SecGen Abed Rabbo

PLO Exec. C'tee Sec.-Gen Abed Rabbo 311 (R). (photo credit: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

The Palestinian Authority leadership has ordered Palestine TV to stop airing a popular satirical program that has angered many Palestinians in recent weeks.

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 number of people.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

Show stolen from Egypt superstar in anti-Mubarak drive

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 Watar.

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.

“This decision 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.”

The 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 Darwish.

“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 Watar, 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 forums.

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.

Related Content

August 17, 2018
German Jewish council urges end of Iran-Germany trade