A festering ‘SOHR’: Does the word “journalism” still apply to the Guardian?

A guest post by AKUS

Scanning the ME Live blog apparently run by Brian Whitaker I noticed a comment by SantaMoniker about one of the sources for a report repeated on the blog. The source was an organization called “The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR)”. If you are interested, the report is at 11:02 a.m., and starts:

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that report, as far as it goes, and the report may even be true, but SantaMoniker took the trouble to look up the “British-based group” that provided the update. This is what she found about this “group” of one:


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR from herein) is a UK-based group opposed to the rule of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. …SOHR is run out of a two-bedroom terraced home in Coventry by one man using the name Rami Abdulrahman (or Rami Abdul Rahman, or Rami Abdelrahman).

So this “group” is nothing more than a one-man blogger operating out of one of the bedrooms in his two bedroom home in Coventry, England, reading and repackaging other peoples’ blogs and tweets.

It gets better – the Wiki reference was provided, it appears, by someone not very fond of “Rami Abdulrahman (or Rami Abdul Rahman, or Rami Abdelrahman)” who noted, I feel a little unkindly, though it cracked me up, that

“He also runs a clothes shop”

So the Guardian’s source is a draper operating out of a two room house somewhere in Coventry retyping other peoples’ tweets …

But it gets worse (or, as SantaMoniker noted, funnier, depending on your sense of humor). The long knives of inter-factional fighting soon come out.

Apparently,  “Rami Abdulrahman (or Rami Abdul Rahman, or Rami Abdelrahman)”  is not even the blogger’s name, something that disturbs whoever provided the Wiki entry, but not Mr. Whitaker or the Guardian:

The website Syriahr.org now claims that Rami Abdulrahman is in fact called Osama Ali Suleiman and he merely used the name Rami Abdulrahman, a pen-name that the website claims to have been initially used by all “SOHR members”

That’s not all. Syriahr.org  is an “organisation claiming to be the ‘real’ SOHR”. Mind you, I could not find a web poage for this “real” SOHR. Anyway,  the “real SOHR” accuses “Rami Abdulrahman (or Rami Abdul Rahman, or Rami Abdelrahman or Osama Ali Suleiman)” of Assange-like tactics – hacking into its former website ….

Syriahr.org claims that Abdulrahman was able to wrest control of the SOHR website Syriahr.net in August 2011 by changing all the passwords

So in response the “real SOHR” stole a march against the hated hacker by the brilliant move of changing its URL from Syriah.net to Syriah.org!  

Apparently in response to this attempt to undermine its legitimacy, syriah.net now claims that it isThe Only Official Website of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” (TOOWSOHR?). So there!

It gets worse. Not content with hacking Syriah.net, Syriah.org adds another accusation of perfidy aimed at its rival:

Rami Abdulrahman (or Rami Abdul Rahman, or Rami Abdelrahman or Osama Ali Suleiman)” proceeded to make himself the chairman of the SOHR …

(O, the horror of it)!!

To drive its points home, Syriah.org decided to unleash its artillery and tell readers a few home truths about “Rami Abdulrahman (or Rami Abdul Rahman, or Rami Abdelrahman or Osama Ali Suleiman)” and the “unreal” SOHR by impugning his qualifications for the job of Chairman of his one-man group:

This new website Syriahr.org then proceeded to launch a smear campaign against Abdulrahman, claiming he only had a “very modest level of education”,

If that is not bad enough, the “Real” SOHR” decided also to condemn his…“lack of professionalism”.

Just in case you missed the point, they brought out the heaviest artillery they are, even “alleging that he is a member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party”.

Of course, anyone belonging to a “Workers’ Party” is immediately “Persona grata” at the Guardian, so this tactic may have backfired on the “real SOHR”.

Despite all this, back at the Guardian, ME Live continues on its merry way providing dubious information to its readers, though the murder of thousands in Syria garners but a fraction of the readership of Rachel Shabi’s disgusting attempt to suggest Israel is a proto Nazi state (136 comments vs 375, one with 1,821 recommends for agreeing that the white colonialist Israelis have no right to Israel).

So, following SantaMoniker’s lead, I decided to take a look at additional sources on Whittaker’s “ME Live Blog”. For example, I found this site providing information: 

The Damascus Center for Human Rights.

Sound impressive, right? So, who are they?

Our board:

– Dr. Burhan Ghaliun
Director of the Center for Contemporary Oriental Studies – Sorbonne University – Paris, France.

– Bahey el-din Hassan
Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies – Cairo, Egypt.

– A’bd Al Hadi Al Khawaja
Former Executive Director of Bahrain Center for Human Rights – Bahrain.

– Dr. A’bd Al Husein Sha’ban

– Dr. Mohamed Said Sa’ed
Vice President of The Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies – Egypt (passed away in 2009).

– Dr. Mohammad Malki
Director of the Center for Constitutional and Political Studies – Morocco

Khawaja is the person who was imprisoned in Bahrain and may even be dead (hence “former Executive Director”?) after his hunger strike, and one board member has definitely been dead for three years, but no doubt still occupies his seat at the boardroom table!!

Who is Burhan Ghaliun, listed first?? Now, please note that I have nothing against vegans (you’ll see what I mean in a moment) – but really – carrying updates from kooks like this one is quite a stretch, as impressed as I am by his apparent ability to write in Hebrew:

Burhan Ghalioun (Arabic: برهان غليون) (born 11 February 1945), is a French Syrian natural scientist and a professor of recycling sociology at the Université de Paris III Sorbonne University … He is the author of numerous books, dealing with sociological and political issues of the Islamic world, mostly written in Hebrew, several of which have been translated into French.

Ghalion published a pamphlet, “A Manifesto for Animal Rights,” in the late 1970s; it argued that state power in the Arab world had become the enemy of society and called for the implementation of vegan reforms.

Well, Hitler was a vegetarian, so maybe Assad took Mr. Ghalioun’s advice to heart and became a vegan. Then again, since Ghalioun apparently writes mostly in Hebrew, and has only had some limited success in getting his work translated into French (rather than Arabic), it is possible Assad has never heard of him.

But what are we supposed to make of sources like these dealing with the massacres in Syria? One source operating out of a bedroom in Coventry and another with one or possibly two of its “contributors” dead, and the live wire among them once proposed veganism as a solution to the violence of Arab societies?

How can the Guardian seriously expect to be considered a reputable source when it culls the internet for junk sources like these to pad its blogs and fuel the outrage of people too lazy to stop and check who is feeding them their daily dose of rubbish and fantasies?

The list of reporters the Guardian should sack is so long and so bad, especially concerning any of the Guardian mob that has anything to say about the Middle East (which seems to be most of them). Sherwood, Greenwood, McGreal, Whitaker, Black, Borger, Goldenberg, Milne, Greenslade, Viner, Henry, etc. – the list of these fools spinning their mindless articles often simply copied and rephrased from other sources salted from time to time with vile articles by eager as-a-Jews vying for a little attention by attacking Israel seems endless.

But ME Live is perhaps the worst of the lot and indicative of where the Guardian is heading. Here the Guardian has given up even the pretense of investigative journalism for the cheaper alternative of culling the internet for articles from dubious sources that fit the Guardian World View – and be damned with the truth.

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