Newsletter No 9 06 December 2005
News from the Media Scene:
The Federation of Arab Journalists Calls for Boycott of Beirut Workshop

The Federation of Arab Journalists (FAJ) has called on its members to boycott a workshop organized by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in Beirut on the second half of December.

The FAJ, meeting in Damascus on 30 November, expressed its discontent over being excluded from helping to organize the meeting. The FAJ considers that this represents a violation of the Rabat Declaration signed by both Federations in April 2003 and aimed to establish cooperation and mutual assistance.

Bertrand Ginet, Project Office in the Mediterranean Area of IFJ, said to APN: “The Arab federation has been invited to the workshop. It might be a misunderstanding about our position as everything in the region is politically sensitive.”

What the FAJ considers to be “a meeting between Arab and regional organizations for trade union coordination” is, according to Ginet, “a workshop aiming to train trade union leaders in the area and to discuss IFJ plans in the region for the coming years.”

The FAJ also called on the Lebanese Editors and Journalists Trade Unions “to issue an immediate communiqué rejecting the holding of such a meeting in Lebanese territory.” Ginet is afraid that this is going to place the Lebanese in a bad position. “Unfortunately, they will have to make a choice,” he says.

The Brussels (Belgium) based IFJ is the world's largest organization of journalists and was first established in 1926. The Federation represents around 500,000 members in more than 100 countries. It speaks for journalists within the international trade union movement and supports journalists and their unions.

The FAJ was established in 1964 and aims to improve professional skills among Arab journalists and to work towards the promotion and enhancement of the freedom of opinion and expression and the right of citizens to free access to and circulation of information, among other objectives.