APRIL 2003

• Immigration and Naturalization Service

• The New York City Mayor's Office Of Immigrant Affairs and Language Services

• Citizenship NYC

• New York Immigration Hotline

• National Immigration Forum

• Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area

• America Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Law Foundation

• Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force

• Glossary

Local: General

• Archdiocese of New York Immigrant and Refugee Services

• Citizens Committee For New York City

• Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

Local: Specific

• Asian Americans for Equality

• Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund

• CARECEN-N.Y.

• Chinese Progressive Association

• Emerald Isle Immigration Center of New York

• Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York

• National Association of Korean Americans

• National Coalition for Haitian Rights

 

 

A 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 Sankari’s 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, “What’s going on?”

He said, “We are cutting back on broadcasters, so Al Jazeera cannot broadcast.”

I understood that he meant for the day, or something, so I said “Ok.”

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, “What’s 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 station’s 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 Honestly, I did not watch the coverage on the day before my badge was revoked, but from what I have read in the media, Al Jazeera showed a tape with prisoners of war and dead American soldiers.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 problems before.

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 aren’t 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 Lebanon’s civil war was over, the war’s 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 people’s 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 shouldn’t 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 McVeigh’s actions in Oklahoma, we didn’t 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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