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Controversies and criticism centering Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera, Qatar, Al Qaeda, American, New York Times, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Middle Eastern

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Controversies and criticism centering Al Jazeera

Qatari government owned Al Jazeera is one of the world’s largest news outlet, which maintains bureaus in over 80 countries with multi-lingual channels. But, due to its dubious activities, Al Jazeera is known as a terror broadcast network that promotes radical Islamic militancy, religious extremism, while it also has past track record of being involved in giving provocations to riots, anarchism, vandalism and jihad.

Dominance of Al Jazeera

While Al Jazeera has already emerged as one of the influential news outlets owned by an Arab nation, there is practically no such media outlet in the Middle East, which could counter lie and bias of this Qatari media. Amongst the Middle Eastern nations, although Saudi Arabia stands into the position of the leader, it too could not build a powerful media outlet during the past many decades. Saudi news outlets – both print and electronic (particularly those English-language outlets) are largely unknown to the international community with almost no ability of catering pro-Saudi and anti-Iran information to the global audience. In this case, if media might is a matter of great importance – Qatar truly is leading in this field.

Amongst the news outlets in the United Arab Emirates – especially newspapers and news portals, major segment of these outlets are owned or at least run by Indian nationals, who are using it in widening India’s influence as well as business interests in the country. Similarly, newspapers in Bahrain and Oman, for example, are actually under the command of Indian journalists. These media outlets, instead of aggressively pushing forwards the policies and interests of those Arab nations, are playing a tricky role of keeping India’s allies such as Iran, almost untouched.

Allegations against Qatari Al Jazeera

An article by Sherry Ricchiardi in the American Journalism Review noted that critics of Al Jazeera have “assailed what they see as anti-Semitic, anti-American bias in the channel’s news contents”. Ricchiardi had earlier criticized an Al Jazeera report that falsely claimed that Jewish employees of 9/11 terrorist targets were informed of the attacks beforehand. This report of Al Jazeera was also criticized in October 2001 in The New York Times editorial.

Sherry Ricchiardi cited the former Al Jazeera weekly show titled Sharia and Lie, hosted by Yusuf Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric who “argues clearly and consistently that hatred of Israel and Jews is Islamically sanctioned”. The Qatari terror broadcast network held a 2008 on-air birthday party for Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese terrorist convicted of killing four Israeli nationals who was released in July of that year, later admitting that its coverage of Kuntar’s release violated its code of ethics. Al Jazeera;s Beirut bureau chief said, “Brother Samir, we wish to celebrate your birthday with you” and called him a “pan-Arab hero”.

Former commentator of Fox News, Bill O-Reilly called Al Jazeera anti-Semitic and anti-American.

On May 30, 2017, a tweet from Al Jazeera’s English-language account was accompanied by an antithetical but improperly cited antisemitic meme, which was later removed. The network tweeted an apology after the incident, calling it a “mistake”.

Israel announced a “boycott” of the Arabic broadcaster on 13 March 2008, accusing it of bias in its coverage of the Gaza Strip conflict and toward Hamas. Israeli government employees declined interviews and denied visa applications for the organization’s staff. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Majalli Wahabi accused it of focusing on Palestinian suffering and ignoring that of Israel: “We have seen that Al-Jazeera has become part of Hamas taking sides and cooperating with people who are enemies of the state of Israel”. According to Israeli officials, Al-Jazeera covered the Gaza incursion but not Palestinian rocket attacks against the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Wahabi said that the Israeli Foreign Ministry would send letters of complaint to the organization and the Qatari government. Officials of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party has accused Al-Jazeera of bias toward Hamas (with which it is at political loggerheads), and Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan sued the broadcaster Al-Jazeera agreed to discuss its coverage of Mideast conflict, and the issue has apparently been settled.

In February 2009, Israel again imposed sanctions on Al Jazeera after Qatar closed the Israeli trade office in Doha in protest against the Gaza War. Israel had considered declaring Al Jazeera a hostile entity and shutting its Israeli offices, but after a legal review the Israeli government decided to impose limited measures restricting the organization’s activities in the country. All Al Jazeera employees would not have their visas renewed, and the Israeli government would issue no new visas. Al Jazeera staff would not be allowed to attend government briefings; its access to government and military offices was reduced, and it could not interview Knesset members. The organization would only have access to three agencies: representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Ministry, and the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

On 15 July of that year, the Palestinian National Authority (PA) closed down Al Jazeera’s offices in the West Bank in an apparent response to claims made on the channel by Farouk Kaddoumi that PA president Mahmoud Abbas had been involved in the death of Yasser Arafat. The Palestinian Information Ministry called the organization’s coverage “unbalanced” and accused it of incitement against the PLO and the PA. Four days later, Abbas rescinded the ban and allowed Al Jazeera to resume operations.

In August 2011, Afghan bureau chief Samer Allawi was arrested by Israeli authorities and charged with being a member of Hamas. Walied Al-Omary, Al Jazeera bureau chief in Israel and the Palestinian territories, said that a military court accused Allawi of making contact with members of Hamas’ armed wing.

Al Jazeera’s suspicious role and double standard

While in its so-called investigative report dated February 2, 2021, Al Jazeera exhibited its anger on Bangladesh for the alleged buying of telecommunication spy-gear from an Israel company named PicSix, its funders Qatari regime has been maintaining economic relations with the Jewish State for decades. Although Bangladesh Army has categorically stated that the telecommunication gear was purchased from Hungary – Al Jazeera and several pro-Hamas media outlets are continuing to push the same lie with the ulterior agenda of sabotaging any future prospect of Dhaka-Jerusalem relations. It may be mentioned here that, most of the Arab nations are already having diplomatic and or economic relations with Israel, while it is also anticipated that Saudi Arabia too will soon normalize relations with the Jewish State.

Qatar uses Al Jazeera for gaining dominance and blackmailing targeted nations

Al Jazeera has been criticized for being Qatari state media In 2010, U.S. State Department internal communications released by WikiLeaks as part of the 2010 diplomatic cables leak said that the Qatari government manipulates Al Jazeera coverage to suit the country’s political interests.

Al Jazeera has lost reporters and anchors in London, Paris, Moscow, Beirut and Cairo.

Longtime Berlin correspondent Aktham Suliman left in late 2012, saying that he felt he was no longer allowed to work as an independent journalist:

Before the beginning of the Arab Spring, we were a voice for change, a platform for critics and political activists throughout the region. Now, Al-Jazeera has become a propaganda broadcaster… Al-Jazeera takes a clear position in every country from which it reports – not based on journalistic priorities, but rather on the interests of the Foreign Ministry of Qatar. In order to maintain my integrity as a reporter, I had to quit.

He added, “The news channel Al Jazeera was committed to the truth. Now it is bent. It’s about politics, not journalism. For the reporter that means: time to go … The decline [in] 2004–2011 was insidious, subliminal, and very slow, but with a disastrous end”.

According to Walid Phares, Al Jazeera became the “primary ideological and communication network” for the Muslim Brotherhood during the 2011 Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria. Phares noted that after democratic forces had begun the rebellions, Al Jazeera played a “tremendous role” in supporting Islamist elements of the revolution.

One of the organization’s largest resignations was that of 22 members of Al Jazeera’s Egyptian bureau. The group announced their resignation on 8 July 2013, citing biased coverage of Egyptian power redistribution favoring the Muslim Brotherhood.

During the visit of the Qatari delegation to the 2017 UN General Assembly, anonymous critics commissioned what ostensibly appeared to be a news website, authoring a variety of articles calling Al Jazeera a “state-run propaganda arm”, criticizing the Gulf state’s link to terror groups or to Iran, and promoting a dark view of the Qatari economy in response to the diplomatic crisis that year.

A secret collection between Al Jazeera and Al Qaeda

Since the September 11 attacks, US officials have accused Al Jazeera’s news coverage of anti-American bias. The organization first received widespread attention in the West after 9/11, when it broadcast videos in which Osama bin Laden and Sulaiman Abu Ghaith defended the attacks. This led to accusations by the United States government that Al Jazeera was broadcasting propaganda on behalf of terrorists. At a 3 October 2001 press conference, Colin Powell tried to persuade the emir of Qatar to close Al Jazeera.

In 2003, Washington bureau chief Hafez al-Mirazi resigned to protest the organization’s “Islamist drift”.

On 24 March 2003, two Al Jazeera reporters covering the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) had their credentials revoked. The NYSE banned Al Jazeera and several other undisclosed news organizations from its trading floor indefinitely. According to NYSE spokesman Ray Pellechia, the ban was for “security reasons” and the exchange had decided to allow access only to networks focusing “on responsible business coverage”.

Akamai Technologies, a US company whose founder was killed in the 11 September World Trade Center attacks, canceled a contract to provide web services for Al Jazeera’s English-language website.

On 12 October 2008, Al Jazeera broadcast interviews with attendees of a Sarah Palin rally in St. Clairsville, Ohio. The interviewees made racist remarks about Barack Obama, such as “he regards white people as trash” and “I’m afraid if he wins, the blacks will take over”. According to Colin Powell, “Those kind of images going out on Al Jazeera are killing us”. The Washington Post then ran an op-ed saying that Al Jazeera was deliberately encouraging “anti-American sentiment overseas”

On 28 April 28 2015, Al Jazeera America supervisor of media and archive management Matthew Luke filed a US$15 million lawsuit against the organization for unfair dismissal. Luke alleged that he had been unfairly dismissed after he had raised concerns with Al Jazeera’s human-resource division that senior vice-president of broadcast operations and technology Osman Mahmud (his boss) discriminated against female employees and made antisemitic remarks.

Al Jazeera, the mouthpiece of terrorists and jihadists

Al Jazeera has been playing the role of mouthpiece to a number of terrorist and jihadist organizations in the Middle East – particularly mega-terror outfit Hamas, Lebanese Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda. It has also been serving evil purpose of the Iranian regime.

Al Jazeera came in the global spotlight when it aired an exclusive interview with Al Qaeda’s kingpin Osama Bin Laden on June 10, 1999. The interview was conducted after Al Qaeda bombed two American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The terror broadcast network also aired details about the wedding on Laden’s son on January 9, 2001.

Al-Jazeera reported Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida messages several times after the September attacks. On October 5, 2001, Al-Jazeera aired footage of the then Al-Qaida leader bin Laden and the then second man in Al-Qaida Ayman al-Zawahiri. On October 9, 2001, Al-Jazeera broadcast a taped statement by Al-Qaida’s spokesman. Al-Jazeera also aired on November 1, 2001, a faxed statement from bin Laden and on November 3 aired a videotape of bin Laden. One of the most controversial tapes aired by Al-Jazeera was on December 27, 2001, when the Americans bumped up the price on bin Laden’s head to US$25 million, and when there was no news about Al-Qaida leader and there were rumors of his death.

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An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow his on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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