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Guantanamo suicides, Gaza beach killings and wiki politics

Fiona Crack | 17:57 UK time, Monday, 12 June 2006

Today we'll be focussing on three issues:

Whose fault is it that three men committed suicide in Guantanamo?
Who is winning the media war in the Israeli Palestine conflict?
And wiki politics: is this a new era for democracy, or will those without computers feel left out?

The team has been speaking people all day to hear your views and invite you to join our program. Call us or text us on the numbers alongside this blog, or post a comment on this blog.

The first discussion is on the suicides by three detainees at Guantanamo bay over the weekend. John is the first caller on the line and he thinks it was a PR stunt. We have the biggest Muslim minority group in the US, he said. He also thinks it’s a moot subject, since President Bush is currently waiting for a ruling on whether to close down Guantanamo.

Richard agrees with John, in that it’s a bit suspicious that the three suicides happened at the same time. He sees this as a sign that it was a PR stunt to call for attention.

Tahir says it wasn’t a PR stunt. It was, he believes, an act of desperation. If you lock someone in a cage, how do you think they would act?

Richard likens what is going on to WWII.

I’m 73 years old, says John. He says if we had to exist in WWII like we do now, with the internet, we would not have bombed Coventry or Dresden. So, the rules of the game have changed.

Hissam from Morocco is on the line. He talks about a story at the time of the Muhammed, which is the basis for the notion that killing oneself is 'haram', or prohibited. He also believes that it is cruel to see that what is going on in Guantanamo was not an act of desperation.

Update and correction: World Have Your Say listener Abdelilah Boukili points out that Hissam said that the Prophet Muhammad considered killing onself as 'haram'. We originally wrote that he said that killing oneself was honourable. In Arabic, 'haram' means prohibited, not honourable.

Rani has sent a comment in. She doesn’t have sorrow for the detainees because she believes they must have committed pretty awful acts to be there in the first place.

Tahir is really put off by what is happening in the war on terror. He believes these people (in Guantanamo) are innocent.

Richard asks: But, what do you do when you get people who have been caught in the act of terrorism?

Anu Anand, our presenter asks Tahir: Is it reasonable that people in the west would see this as a PR stunt?

Tahir says, these men were desparate. And there will be more suicide acts like this if Guantanamo is not closed down.

Now for the Gaza beach incident and the images of a distraught Palestinain girl running down the beach to find her dead father, which have been shown repeatedly by media around the world. Who is winniong the media war? And how good is the media coverage on all sides of the conflict?

Anu Anand asks Ahmed Al-Shaikh, head of Al-Jazeera: Did you expect this footage to be used as much as it was?

Ismail believes that the images have been used successfully. But Dr. Joseph Draznin, who researches counter terrorism, believes the footage was taken out of context in Israel. The shelling was a mistake, either by Israeli guns or Palestinian militias.

Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East correspondent, is also on line. He did an extensive piece using the pictures provided by Al-Jazeera and the pictures had a huge amount of impact.

One little girl asked the cameramen to take pictures of her crying over her father’s dead body. How much is media being used to skew the issue in favour of one side or the other?

Reem and Shahah, from London and Tel Aviv respectively, join the program.

Shahah talks of the media battle. The victim always wins. The sympathy always goes to the losers.

Reem disagrees. It's about the definition of 'victim'. It's in the nature of coverage where I get disappointed, she says. Certain incidents receive certain ammounts of attention. i.e. A suicide bomb always gets a lot of coverage. But when we talk of Israeli attacks on Palestine it is described in different terms.

Have these issues been manipulated?

Dr. Joseph Draznin says he doesn't think the images have been uused as propaganda. These pictures speak for themselves. The question is: Does this mean winning the media war for Palestine? No it doesn't. Each media group will add it's own context.

Jeremy talked about how he covered the event, and added background by talking about deaths and killings on both sides. He also talked about the need for proportionality in war.

Meanwhile the discussion moves on to the term 'massacre', which Al-Jazeera used to describe the event, and whether it was justified. Ahmed Al-Shaikh says it was justified. They were innocent people, lying on the beach.

Ahmed Al-Shaikh questions how Jeremy can sit silently and not descibe it for what it was. This incident was not provoked , he says. What did those kids do?

So what is the definition of a massacre? Mahmoud Abbas said it was a massacre. So we reported it as a massacre. But massacre can be a loaded term, warns Jeremy.

Wiki Politics

We're in the last fifteen minutes so it's time to move on to wiki politics:

Pete Ashdown, who is a candidate for the Senate in the US state of Utah, has started a wiki to get his constituents involved and get them to contribute to his campaign and form policies.

So what is this really about? Is it a good idea for democracy? How many people are actually using it and contributing to it?

Jennifer Napier Pierce is a podcaster and journalist in Utah. She asks Pete: How are you going to make the dots connect? How are you going to make these young people interested? And how do we get around the problem of apathy?

Pete believes that you can help connect with young people by using new methods.

If anyone is going to be receptive to this new form of media, it is going to be in Utah, says guest Jennifer. There are a lot of young people in the state and there's a good level of education.

Well that's pretty much it for World Have Your Say. If you would like to get involved with this debate, or tell us what you would like to discuss, get in touch by email, phone or text. Look on the right to find out how to get in touch.

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