Abdel Bari Atwan: I was forced out by funders

The former editor of al-Quds al-Arabi has told The Electronic Intifada that he was “forced to leave” as editor of the pan-Arab daily by funders. “They didn’t like my editorial line,” he said.

In an exclusive interview to be published this week, Abdel Bari Atwan said the paper’s bills had made his position as editor-in-chief untenable. Atwan stepped down in July, after more than 25 years at the helm of the paper he had founded.

“I was offered a lot of money. I wasn’t able to pay the salaries of my staff … I could continue if I actually accept their new editorial policy … If I submit to arm-twisting I wouldn’t be Abdel Bari Atwan,” he said.

It has been rumored that the highly influential, London-based Arabic paper al-Quds al-Arabi was funded by Qatar. Atwan declined to confirm or deny that Qatari funders were behind his departure. The paper continues today under the leadership of a new editor-in-chief.

New media venture

When he unexpectedly left the paper in July, he wrote only that “events and the requirements of third parties pushed” him into the departure.

Many speculated at the time that the requirements of Gulf backers had effectively forced him out.

In the full interview, Atwan describes his pride at 25 years of the independent editorial lines his former paper took, and excitement with his new internet-only Arabic news project, Rai al-Youm (Today’s Opinion).

It launched in September but has already had millions of unique visitors, Atwan said. He said it has already had offers of a buy-out from Gulf states “maybe to silence me – but I wouldn’t be silenced.”

In the interview, Atwan also gave his critical analysis of the state of the Arab uprisings, almost three years on, and the problems they now face – not least of which are violent al-Qaida aligned groups.

Comments

This article fails to delineate the substance of the dispute. If the editor was ousted in the summer, there's been lots of time to see a change in the editorial line. Or is there no change?