Goodbye to Wadah Khanfar, the man who switched on the spotlight

“Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honor, I lose myself.”

Wadah Khanfar Director General of Al Jazeera has resigned. An Al Jazeera spokesman said: “Wadah Khanfar had made outstanding contributions to Al Jazeera and journalism worldwide”. Wadah Khanfar did much more than that. He was the man who switched on the spotlight and let the world witness the Arab Spring as it happened. Al Jazeera journalists provided ‘real news’ of these events – as Hilary Clinton remarked – during his watch, with his direction and his support.

Wadah Khanfar turned Al Jazeera into a leading global news network, professional, exciting and unafraid. It set new standards. It made the BBC look tired and boring. It made Fox News look ridiculous.

Many marvelled at the honesty of Al Jazeera reporting in Tunisia and Cairo. When the Bahrain revolution took place, AlJazeera didn’t pull any punches. Many expected pressure from Qatar’s neighbour, the beleaguered Al Kahlifa dynasty in  Bahrain or from the house of Saud. Nothing happened then, but it probably has now. Wadah Knhnfar’s departure may signal a new, more controlled Al Jazeera. We may not get the same unfettered reporting again. The new Director general is a member of the Qatari ‘royal’ family. Let’s hope this is not a bad day for freedom.

Wadah Khanfar gave a lecture at the TED conference in Febrauary. It’s well worth watching.

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