Buffoonery and state killing

3 04 2011

Category; Media, Middle East

I can understand why people are sometimes scared of clowns. There’s a frightening buffoon appearing in the British media at the moment; Sami Khiyami, the Syrian Ambassador to the UK.

Jeremy Paxman did an excellent job trying to impose a sense of reality on a man who describes his country, in the grip of civil unrest and which has seen more than a hundred of its citizens killed by their own government, as ‘the nicest and most beautiful state in the Middle East‘.

As to the cause of the unrest, it is nothing to do with the authoritarian regime of President Assad, but it may be the work of the Israelis; ‘they could be behind any bad thing in the world‘.

You can watch the interview here:

Paxman handled the surreality of the interview well. His colleagues on the Radio 4’s Today programme did not.

Evan Davis interviewed Khiyami on the Today Programme on 1st April 2011. It is a negligent piece of journalism. In a programme known for combative questioning, Khiyami was handled with kid gloves.

It’s a dreadful interview. Davis even sums up for him, have a listen:

Some of the questions Evan Davis might have asked:

  • How do you account for the discrepancy between your figure of 30 killed and human rights groups’ figures of up to 130?
  • Who are they?
  • Who is arming them?
  • What are they seeking?
  • It’s not just one person speaking out agains the regime; there are thousands demonstrating, they say peacefully, and getting shot at.
  • Why don’t you allow free media access so we can all see if what you are saying is true?
  • You do understand you’re unlikely to be believed till that happens?
  • How much consultation on reform does it need to stop torturing people, release political prisoners, introduce basic human rights?
  • Surely there is some reform, some measure of basic rights you could bring in right away?
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