Charity Urges the Media: Tell Us the Truth About Syria

Mideast Coordinator Warns of ‘Vulgar Falsehoods’

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ROME, JULY 10, 2012 ( News agencies have misrepresented the conflict in Syria, according to a Catholic charity’s Middle East expert.

Father Andrew Halemba, the Middle East projects coordinator for Aid to the Church in Need, said that media reports about the country should be treated critically and with great caution.

“The situation is much more complex and difficult to assess than the media in the West make it out to be,” he said.

“They seem to be ignoring that there are also internal power struggles and religious tensions between the different Muslim groups, tribal feuds and acts of vengeance are a daily occurrence, and crime is rising in the country due to the unstable situation,” Father Halemba commented.

The priest added, “We are witnesses to vulgar falsehoods that brazenly and shamelessly inflate a small demonstration involving around 50 people into a major demonstration with hundreds or even thousands of persons.

“The photos are patched together from different pieces using image processing software in studios created especially for this purpose.”

Al Jazeera has been accused of faking images used in their news reports to increase the size of a crowd, according to ACN.

Father Halemba’s reference to allegations of media misuse of images come after photographer Marco di Lauro accused the BBC of using one of his pictures from Iraq in 2003 to show the situation in Syria this year.

While acknowledging that the image could not be independently verified, the BBC said the image purported to show children killed in the May 2012 massacre in Houla.

Di Lauro said the photograph was taken in Iraq at the time of the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein.

The BBC later apologised and removed the image upon learning of the error.

Father Halemba stressed that Aid to the Church in Need’s task was to provide practical support to Christians in need, rather than intervene in political matters.

The charity is providing more than £103,000 (€130,000) in emergency aid, primarily for Christian families in need. This includes just under £40,000 (€50,000) for those trapped in the old city of Homs.

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