In February, Oxford University Press released Fridays of Rage: Al Jazeera, the Arab Spring, and Political Islam by Sam Cherribi (Emory University). The publisher’s description follows:
Fridays of Rage reveals Al Jazeera’s rise to that most respected of all Western media positions: the watchdog of democracy. Al Jazeera served as the nursery for the Arab world’s democratic revolutions, promoting Friday as a “day of rage” and popular protest. This book provides a glimpse into how Al Jazeera strategically cast its journalists as martyrs in the struggle for Arab freedom while promoting itself as the mouthpiece and advocate of the Arab public.
In addition to heralding a new era of Arab democracy, Al Jazeera has become a major influence over Arab perceptions of American involvement in the Arab World, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the rise of global Islamic fundamentalism, and the expansion of the political far right. Al Jazeera’s blueprint for “Muslim-democracy” was part of a vision announced by the network during its earliest broadcasts. The network embarked upon a mission to reconstruct the Arab mindset and psyche. Al Jazeera introduced exiled Islamist leaders to the larger Arab public while also providing Muslim feminists a platform.
The inclusion and consideration of Westerners, Israelis, Hamas, secularists and others earned the network a reputation for pluralism and inclusiveness. Al Jazeera presented a mirror to an Arab world afraid to examine itself and its democratic deficiencies. But rather than assuming that Al Jazeera is a monolithic force for positive transformation in Arab society, Fridays of Rage examines the potentially dark implications of Al Jazeera’s radical re-conceptualization of media as a strategic tool or weapon.
As a powerful and rapidly evolving source of global influence, Al Jazeera embodies many paradoxes-the manifestations and effects of which we are likely only now becoming apparent. Fridays of Rage guides readers through this murky territory, where journalists are martyrs, words are weapons, and facts are bullets.