Personal Account: Banned From Reporting From The Stock Exchange
The day after the Arab satellite television network Al Jazeera
broadcast images of American prisoners of war and dead US soldiers,
Al Jazeera financial reporter Ammar Sankari was told he was banned
from reporting from the New York Stock Exchange. The move came as
a shock to Sankari, a Lebanese immigrant who has lived in New York
since 1989. Here is Sankaris account
Normally I go to the New York Stock Exchange around noon
on Monday to do my reporting. I went there on Monday March 24 as
usual, around that time. When I was getting ready for my broadcast,
the director of the broadcast center asked to speak to me.
I said, Ok, and I went to his office and asked, Whats
He said, We are cutting back on broadcasters, so Al Jazeera
I understood that he meant for the day, or something, so I said
And then he said, So you have to give me your badge back.
I asked, What do you mean?He said, Al Jazeera
cannot broadcast from here anymore."
I asked him again, Whats going on? and he answered,
We are cutting back on broadcasters.
I questioned this, because I thought that they might be banning
Al Jazeera because of something related to the stations war
coverage, or something related to the war. Honestly, I did not watch
the coverage on the day before my badge was revoked, but from what
I have read in the media, Al Jazeera showed a tape with prisoners
of war and dead American soldiers.
So I said, Ok, and gave him my badge. He apologized
to me about the situation. I have known him and many of the guys
that work at the broadcast center since I started reporting on the
exchange for Al Jazeera in 1999. I have several friends there, and
they are very polite, very professional. There have never been any
Now, if it is a fact that they are banning Al Jazeera because of
how they are covering the war, which is what Al Jazeera itself thinks,
I feel that is very regretful. Al Jazeera is doing a favor to the
U.S. stock market to report from there. At the same time, it is
our responsibility to inform the Arab people. We are the only Arabic
station covering the New York Stock Exchange that reports in Arabic
to the Arab world. It is our responsibility to tell Arab investors
that are investing in the United States about the U.S. stock market.
It is regretful if they are banning Al Jazeera for their coverage
of the war, because I love the freedom here in the US. I came to
the United States from Lebanon in 1989, to Garden City, Long Island.
I moved to New York City in 1992 to get my masters degree in business
at Baruch College. When I first came to this country, I came strictly
with the intention of finishing my studies and going back home.
But I found a nice opportunity here and I liked the country.
I love New York City. You can feel like you are part of the city
even though you are a newcomer. You never feel like a foreigner
anywhere in the city or around the city, because we all come from
different places. You arent discriminated against, while if
you are anywhere else, like in Europe, you always feel as if you
are a stranger.
In 1994, I decided to stay in the United States. Back home, things
were not going well when I made my decision. Even though Lebanons
civil war was over, the wars effects on the country remained,
and it was not very appetizing to go back. I worked for a few Wall
Street firms after graduating, and began working for Al Jazeera
part time four years ago. I decided to start my own business last
year, and continue with Al Jazeera.
There are about 400,000 Arab Americans who subscribe to Al Jazeera,
and when I go to Arab events, people often recognize me from television.
Now, people of all backgrounds know about Al Jazeera. The station
has been getting negative publicity about the war coverage. No one
has said anything negative to me personally, but I think it is sad
to hear criticism from people who do not even understand Arabic,
or actually watch the station.
I will definitely stay in this country. I have been here for thirteen
years now. My only concern is that because of the exceptional circumstances
that are going on now, and all of the bad events, I fear that people
will make decisions that will last past this time. They could be
applied to anyone, not just someone coming from the Muslim world.
I fear that they will create new laws that cannot be taken away,
that will limit peoples freedom even more.
I am a green card holder, so the policy of special registrations
for people from Muslim countries did not affect me personally. But
regretfully, I heard that some people went to register nicely and
very legally and they were arrested and questioned. These things
shouldnt be done in a humiliating way. It is upsetting to
hear such stories.
They are taking one type of people and labeling all of them as destructive
people.Only a few people can give a bad image for a whole
population. After Timothy McVeighs actions in Oklahoma, we
didnt start rounding up all the people with an Irish background,
or all of the people who look or sound like McVeigh.
Although Al Jazeera can no longer broadcast from the New York Stock
Exchange, we plan to continue reporting about the US stock market
to the Arab world. Right now, perhaps ironically, we are on hold
because Al Jazeera is showing live reporting from the war region
for much of the day.
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