Is Freedom of the Press the Real Reason for the Trump-Led Alliance of Arab States Expulsion of Qatar?

UAE crown prince ‘asked US to bomb Al Jazeera,’ leaked cable reveals
Reporters Without Borders condemn the crackdown on Al Jazeera.

“We are really worried about the implication and consequences of such requirements if it will ever be implemented,” said Alexandra El Khazen, head of Middle East and North Africa desk at Reporters Without Borders.

Saudi Arabia’s attempt to silence Al Jazeera is as if China ordered Britain to shut down the BBC

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, and others hvae made 13 specific demands on Qatar including  are demanding the closure of Al Jazeera

Speaking at a news conference in Paris, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani  “Doha rejects discussing any matter related to Al Jazeera channel as it considers it an internal affair,”

Egypt’s dictator,   Abdel Fattah el-Sis has led the fight against Al Jazeera.  Long ago he kicked Al Jazeera out of the country after confiscating its Cairo bureau’s equipment. The government has locked up several Al Jazeera journalists for months. Producer Mahmoud Hussein has been jailed in Egypt now for 175 days.

Saudi Arabia closed Al Jazeera’s bureau in Riyadh and halted its operating licence, accusing the network of promoting “terrorist groups” in the region.  Jordanian officials quickly followed, announcing the closure of the Al Jazeera bureau in Amman and the withdrawal of its operating licence.

Former online Al Jazeera editor Ruben Banerjee said it was clear why some nations are going after the media network during the Qatar crisis., “To stifle the voice of Al Jazeera, which prides itself for being the ‘voice of the voiceless’, will be criminal.  Like every other organisation, Al Jazeera suffers from cliques and cabals … But these blemishes notwithstanding, Al Jazeera remains a beacon in a region where freedom of expression is at a premium.”

Tim Dawson, president of the UK’s National Union of Journalists, expressed his “absolute horror” in reaction to what we called a “monstrous request” and urged the Saudi government to withdraw the demands.

Al Jazeera’s reaction

“We are stunned by the demand to close Al Jazeera,” Giles Trendle, the acting managing director of Al Jazeera English, said. “Of course there has been talk about it in the past but it is still a great shock and surprise to actually see it in writing. It’s as absurd as it would be for Germany to demand Britain to close the BBC.”

Trendle said Al Jazeera is going to continue its “editorial mission of covering the world news in a fair and balanced way”. “We call on all governments to respect media freedom. We hope other media organisations will support our call to defend media freedom,” he added.

Trendle said the roots of the demand to close Al Jazeera goes back to 2011 and the Arab Spring.

“At that time, Al Jazeera was covering the dreams and the aspirations of a new generation of people. We provided the platform for the voice of the man and the woman in the Arab streets. We were covering those protests and we were providing a diversity of viewpoints, we were really the voice of the voiceless. I think there are some regimes in the region that don’t appreciate that diversity of views. I think that’s the reason for what’s going on here.”

Yaser Abuhilalah, director of Al Jazeera Arabic, called the demand to shut Al Jazeera a crime violating freedom of speech.  “I am against demands to close any media outlet, because it is a crime, a violation of basic human rights to freedom of speech,” Abuhilalah told Sputnik.

“If Al Jazeera violated something, anyone could sue it – in a Qatari court or in [a court of] any other country, it is the legitimate right of every person harmed by the media. But the demand to close [Al Jazeera] is a crime.”

Censorshio in the Saudi Alliance

To stem the flow of negative reactions Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain took steps to curb their citizens from expressing opinions that opposed their policies.

The UAE announced that any objections to the UAE’s strict measures against the government of Qatar or expression of sympathy with Qatar would be a crime punishable by a prison sentence of 3-15 years and a fine of no less than $136,000 (500,000AED), whether on a social media platform or via any written or spoken medium.

The criminalisation of sympathy with Qatar was implemented in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain with slight differences in the length of prison sentences and size of fines.

Al Jazeera reporters have often come under fire, with Egypt imprisoning Arabic reporter Mahmoud Hussein, who has been in jail for 185 days “disseminating false news and receiving monetary funds from foreign authorities in order to defame the state’s reputation”.

Al Jazeera’s Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy spent 437 days in jail before being released. Peter Greste spent more than a year in prison in Egypt.

0 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Davey Jones #

    an LNG pipeline is

  2. theaveeditor #

    Al Jazeera is on thr 13 demands. I do not think the pipeline is.

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