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NYCLU Urges New York Stock Exchange To Lift Bar On Al-Jazeera

In a letter sent today to Dick Grasso, Chairman & CEO of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the New York Civil Liberties Union urged the exchange to rescind its decision to revoke the press credentials of two reporters representing Al-Jazeera.

Al-Jazeera, the lone uncensored news network in the Arab world, serves an audience of 35 million people and has covered the NYSE for over 5 years without incident.

The exchange’s decision to remove the reporters was reached just days after Al-Jazeera broadcast pictures of dead U.S. soldiers and prisoners of war in defiance of requests from both the U.S. and British governments. The NYSE maintains its decision was unrelated to this broadcast. However, given the chain of events, it is difficult not to view the exchange’s decision as retaliation over Al-Jazeera’s content.

While acknowledging the right of organizations, such as the NYSE, to advance positions on social and political issues, the NYCLU letter, nonetheless, terms the reporters’ expulsion “a serious mistake.”

The NYCLU argues that the exclusion of Al-Jazeera reporters from the NYSE undermines the exchange’s stated commitment “to ensuring [that its] market is the most open and transparent in the world and that every investor has equal access to financial media,” as it effectively denies this “equal access” to 35 million Arab-speaking viewers.

The letter further states that the exchange’s actions undercut “the values of ideological diversity and pluralism and free expression: that are central to our democratic tradition,” a fact made all the more relevant given that the current Iraqi conflict stems, at least in part, from a professed desire to sow the seeds of democracy in the Arab world.

“During times of war,” the letter concludes, “it is vital that we, as a society, redouble our commitment to democratic principles and values. For we teach by the examples we set. And the world is watching not only our conduct on the battlefield but our conduct at home, as well.”

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