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The 24/60 Charkaoui interview (#203)

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I’m going to keep my posts short and sweet while I’m still here in Saskatchewan. Even from here, I can see the reasonable accommodation debate in Québec’s media taking on a renewed life of its own.  There are cool heads out there, and the public does seem to be reaching a point of shouting “enough already” – but there still are elements of our French media in Québec which just won’t let it lie. Man, I don’t get it.  Some media are really trying to turn this whole “Islamic reasonable limitations accommodations” debate into a mountain that I sense the average person just wants to be resolved – quickly.  It’s becoming obvious people just want the debate to finish. Just as the debate finally appeared to start to die down, along came 24/60 & Anne-Marie Dusseault to spill the bucket once more — and away it all went again!. Following Anne-Marie Dusseault’s psycho freak out session fiery interview of Adil Charkaoui on February 27th, everything else in the media when to shnoot on this topic, each and every day, and it’s still going on. I thought the Charkaoui affair was already closed and decided.  What gives? In case you’re not aware, here’s what happened:

  • He ran an Islamist education centre, and he had a website which had links to Jihadist sites,
  • Two students who attended his centres ended up fighting for Jihadists in the Middle-East,
  • Thus the city of Montréal denied a zoning permit for his request to open a new Islamic Centre, and
  • Two colleges cancelled his contracts to rent spaces to teach his courses.

Appropriate decisions were taken for a situation which called for action.  Done.  Closed… moving on, right? Well, you’d think so, but then the 24/60 interview came along (I can’t even call it an interview – it was a tongue lashing & bashing, teach ’em a lesson session), and it stirred up all the extremist elements of the debate, on both ends of the scale.  Here is a perfect example of how interviewers should just stick to interviewing instead of giving interviewees a piece of their mind (in the name of stroking their own ego/agendas).  The former is in the public’s interest.  The latter is not. Last week and this week saw the written press & radio go nuts, likely spurred on and emboldened by this particular 24/60 interview. Adding fuel to the fire were moderate elements, such as a court judge, making strange decisions based on islamic dress in Québec courtrooms, and the likes. Anyway, I’ll leave it to you to judge for yourself what they tried to prove with the 24/60 interview of Charkaoui by Anne-Marie Dusseault. I’m not talking about the media’s right to question or not — I’m talking about how it’s getting out of control and beyond professional.  Your French will need to be at an advanced or upper advanced to follow along (sorry).

A couple last thoughts:

  1. I couldn’t believe one part of the interview.  It came when Charkaoui said that he felt aspects of influential media (and you had the sense he was directly taking a shot at Dusseault) is playing up the reasonable accommodations debate to fire the flames of sovereignty by trying to breath life back into the PQ’s Charte des valeurs, with the purpose of provoking a constitutional and Federal-Provincial crisis.   What I could not believe was that Dusseault said.  Quote: “Well, this is a democracy!”       
    Exactly what did she mean by that???  What a trainwreck of an interview!!!
  2. 24/60 is one of the most followed interview shows in Québec (perhaps the equivalent of what was Larry King Live or Piers Morgan in the USA).  As one of the very few flagship interview shows of our public broadcaster, Radio-Canada, it is supposed to be an example to all others in the media in the realm of cool-heads, and thought-provoking questions – and the vast majority of the time it is.  Charkaoui should answer the public’s questions and concerns – after all, his actions and his motives require hard answers and caused a good deal of public debate.  As such, this 24/60 interview could have been one of the best of the past decade.  But you’re not going to get answers if, as the interviewer, you simply explode to such an extent that your innards are dripping from the camera lens, and you continue to beat your guest with a bat over the head – leading to a lack of all cohesiveness and professionalism in your questions.   We ALL expect a better example of journalism than this.  Radio-Canada IS a broadcaster of exceptional quality, talent, and insightful, cool-headed thought.  I just hope this doesn’t continue.  Radio-Canada is held to a better standard than this (they’re not TVA after all).
  3. I say this to all of the media… this kind of behaviour is getting waaaay too out of hand, and it all started again with the Dusseault interview on February 27th.   Just chill people… take a few breaths… re-evaluate, and everyone in the media who is flogging this issue, just slow down a bit and cautiously begin to cover things from a cool-headed standpoint.
  4. I’ll tell you what could very well happen if certain aspects of the media continue to react so vehemently.  The public backlash against the Parti Québécois’ constant drum-beating of “unreasonable accommodations” will soon be aimed at the media.  If that happens, then what?

Time will tell what will happen.

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