RCI Arabic's flagship program bi la hudud (Without Borders, or Sans Limite in French) is hosted by May Abu-Sa'ab
I recently discovered Radio Canada International's Arabic Edition and have been pleasantly surprised by its content. RCI Arabic has only two anchors, May and Fadi, and does not broadcast 24 hours. Unlike BBC Arabic, it does not aim to be an alternative to pan-Arab news stations and, in contrast to America's Radio Sawa, it makes no attempt to appeal to the lowest-common denominator or to young people. Instead, RCI Arabic's main goal appears to be to inform Arabs outside of Canada, especially potential (educated) immigrants, about Canadian society, the challenges of immigration, and about the place of Arabs and Muslims in the country. Another target audience is probably the Arab population in Canada. Canadian multiculturalism and the integration of immigrants in Canada are themes that come up in almost every show. Having listened to the station for the past week, I sometimes get the impression that the hosts are required to meet certain word quotas in their broadcasts - the ِArabic word for integration (اندماج) comes up every five minutes or so. There are also high-brow programs with Arab Canadian academics and intellectuals and frequent health-related features.
My only criticisms so far concern the lousy music (it's always some mediocre Canadian or Québecois content) and, on a more serious note, the fact that the editors don't use the station to promote Canadian values in the Middle East. Radio Canada International should be using the station as a means to stimulate more balanced discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Arab world. I would also expect RCI Arabic to do stories about human rights and press freedoms or the lack thereof in the Arab Middle East. Until now, when politics were discussed, the few guests that I've heard so far were Arab Canadian academics or community activists who repeat the same pan-Arab, anti-American and anti-Israel rhetoric that one could hear on any popular Arab satellite or radio station. Especially irritating was an interview with Naïma Mimoune, a woman of Algerian origin emigrated to Canada in 1998 and is now running for or involved with the separatist Parti Québecois (PQ) in the Quebec provincial elections. Madame Mimoune, who does not appear to be related to Maimonides, justified her support for the PQ by asserting that it was the most sympathetic to Arab immigrants and by referring to its "pro-Arab" position during the war in Lebanon last summer. Both hosts, to their credit, challenged their guest to explain her support for the PQ. I think they went as far as to suggest that Mimoune's immigrant constituency might be deterred by the potentially destabilizing effect of separatist agenda. They also noted that the Quebec Liberal party has a prominent Arab parliamentarian, Madame Fatima Houda-Pepine.