The Scoop on HuffPost Arabi

by mediachinwag


HuffPost Arabi is off to a surprisingly rocky start. There was a good rundown of the problems recently on Brian Whitaker’s Al-Bab blog:

DIDN’T Arianna Huffington realise what she was getting into when she decided to launch HuffPost Arabi? In the first three weeks it has certainly been attracting attention, but mostly of the wrong sort.

The new Arabic-language website was born amid a show of bravado from Ms Huffington. Avoiding “any kind of censorship and control,” she said, would be “absolutely key”. For that reason it would be operating from London and Istanbul rather than any of the Arab countries, and would pursue stories “relentlessly”.

She also vowed to back the website’s writers to the hilt. “We will support [contributors] in every way,” she said. “Anyone persecuted for opinions published on the site” would be given legal funding and “extensive coverage” across other sections of Huffington Post.

But promising that kind of blanket support to largely unknown writers for as-yet-unwritten articles was inviting trouble – especially considering that the editorial director of Huffington Post’s Arabic offshoot is a Qatari known for his pro-Islamist stance and its Egyptian editor-in-chief is a self-declared member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Read Whitaker’s entire article here. Among the problems he cites: an article by an Egyptian writer that castigated gays that Huffpost Arabi found it necessary to delete; a rosy tribute to the late Taliban leader Mullah Omar by the former Al Jazeera correspondent in Afghanistan; and an essay by an Algerian researcher denouncing selfie photographs as “sick.”

This is what the Independent had to say when HuffPost Arabi launched in July. Check out Arianna Huffington’s launch announcement.

Huffington spoke about HuffPost Arabi and her ever expanding international reach in an interview with me for the Cairo Review of Global Affairs Winter 2015 edition.

—Scott MacLeod