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Bush launches magazine to teach young Arabs to love America.

By Andrew Buncombe in Washington

18 July 2003

 

So what if George Bush is threatening to invade your country? At least the kids in America have nice, white teeth and listen to the same music as you. Isn't that enough for you to love the good 'ol US of A?

That, at least, appears to be the message of a glossy new magazine published by the Bush administration and going on sale across the Middle East this week, targeting young people with a mix of features, celebrity profiles and music. The Arabic-language Hi magazine is US propaganda 2003-style. "We're fighting a war of ideas as much as a war on terror," said Tucker Eskew, director of the White House's Office of Global Communications.

Hi, a monthly, will be available for the equivalent of around $2 (1.25) in Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, Algeria, Egypt, Cyprus and several Gulf states. Saudi Arabia - home to 15 of the 19 hijackers on 11 September and where drug dealers are publicly beheaded - has not yet been deemed ready to get Hi.

The first issue of the magazine, published by the State Department, contains features on the jazz musician Norah Jones, sandboarding, an apparent resurgence of interest in Arabic poetry in the US, and yoga. There is also a section on relationships entitled "Making Marriage Work". A feature on life in American universities has interviews with Arab students "enjoying the freedom of thought" in the US.

The administration claims the magazine is designed to show a positive image of America and highlight the similarities between young people in the US and the Middle East. The articles have been written by Arab Americans in Washington and stringers in the Middle East. "There is an editorial board which reviews all the articles," said a State Department spokeswoman.

While it has an annual budget of $4.2m (2.6m), the magazine is just part of a broader media attack on the Middle East. In a speech to the Southern Centre for International Studies in Atlanta this week, Mr Eskew cited plans to spend $62m developing an Arabic language television network.

Not everyone is convinced the magazine and the network will succeed. Rani al-Hajjar, an Atlanta student and co-ordinator for Palestinian Media Watch, said: "I think if it's coming from a cultural superiority complex, saying that we are infallible and saying that our policies are best, then I think it is liable to fail."

Source:

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=425328