A New Tughra Belongs to Al Jazeera

20 Oct

The word tughra is usually associated with the Ottoman Turks and refers to a monogram or signature rendered in Arabic calligraphy. In an Asian Art Docent study group I became familiar with the term and its connection with Sulieman the Magnificent. Wikipedia has a working drawing showing its parts. While imparting, information, a tughra is a wonderful swirl of Arabic script; it would be an individual impervious to visual form and line to fail to be impressed.

While in La Union, the southern most of three Ilocano provinces on the island of
Luzon in the Philippines early this October, I encountered a second example of a
tughra, this time belonging to the television net work and news channel operating out of Doha on the Persian Gulf, Al Jazeera. I was startled and thrilled a) to see it and b) to recognized the form, plus c) to observe how broadcast manipulation could form the tughra from various prospectives, the most impressive was solidifying water images before appearing in its final form in blue.

Secondarily, it was a valuable exposure and different perspective, after seeing CNN broadcasts from a hotel room in Manila. The broadcast equipment is shown on Al Jezeera, but minus the chunks of color and the flashes of TV. Al Jazeera, after all, is closely owned; while it does have some advertising, the images are evocative with some nature scenes.

The network is, from what I saw, essentially a news channel, and probably is available in the U.S. from subscribers to Al Gore’s former TV channel, and to
subscribers to a channel service; I am not.

The information changes little over a twelve to sixteen-hour span; for some that would be highly repetitive. But the coverage of the Kabane conflict and the Hong Kong strike was extensive and thoughtful. A Baghdad representative appeared frequently;the Dallas Hospital handling of the Ebola victim was given its share of the commentary.

Periodically Al Jazeera provided small documentaries. There was a two-part study on Manila slums and the prospect of the population removal from a flooded area, targeted for demolition. Another dealt with the abortion issue in Texas, including comments by the unctuous anti-abortion leader. Yet another discussed young boys lured into the Myanmar military, and yet another about the efforts of an eleven year old Chinese girl to be eligible for soccer training, a route out of poverty. The death of her grandfather has kept eligibility on hold. A final documentary concerned the trials of the deaf in Gaza, and a glimpse into their remarkably well organized network, managing in the face of the prolonged
Gaza-Israeli conflict.

One final comment on the calibre of Al Jazeera’s coverage. The women anchors,
drop dead gorgeous, make Al Jazeera equality emblematic and easy to watch.

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