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Oct. 10; The New York Times, on censorship on Pashto and Arabic news sources:

Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2001

Since the end of the cold war, the Voice of America's radio programs have metamorphosed from government echo into real journalism. ... Surveys of men in Afghanistan last year showed that 67 percent listened to the V.O.A. every day. The need to maintain a credible alternative source of news for Muslims today makes the administration's efforts to censor the V.O.A. all the more objectionable. ...

Last month the V.O.A. obtained an interview with the Taliban's leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar. ... the State Department asked the V.O.A. not to broadcast it. The station hesitated for several days and then included a few excerpts in a larger report. Even this limited use of Mullah Omar's remarks has now inspired calls in Congress to turn the V.O.A. back into a voice for American policies. ...

In addition, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the leader of Qatar last week that he was concerned about the inflammatory rhetoric used by the Qatar-based Arabic-language satellite television station Al Jazeera. ... The station is the most important and independent broadcaster of news in Arabic. Its journalism has aroused the ire of various Arab governments, much to its credit. ...

The correct response to Al Jazeera, however, is not to ask Qatar to censor it. The Islamic world has far too much censorship already. Instead, Washington should shower Al Jazeera with offers of interviews with American officials or respected Muslims who can counter the anti-American propaganda. ...

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