UAE invites UNHCR to discuss Al Jazeera ‘promotion of extremism’

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UAE invites UNHCR to discuss Al  Jazeera ‘promotion of extremism’
UAE invites UNHCR to discuss Al Jazeera ‘promotion of extremism’

ISLAMABAD: The UAE Minister  of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr  Anwar Gargash, has invited  United Nations High Commissioner  for Human Rights  (UNHCR) to visit the area to discuss  cases ofAl Jazeera’s promotion  of extremist ideologies and  ways to protect the right of freedom  of expression in the face of  such egregious abuses.  TheUAEminister haswritten  to the UNHCR on Al Jazeera’s  persistent promotion of extremist  ideologies early this week. In  his letter to High Commissioner  Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in response  to a statement made by  the high commissioner’s  spokesperson on June 30, 2017.  Theminister’s letter also referred  to a statement made on June 28,  2017, by the special rapporteur  on the promotion and protection  of the right to freedomof opinion  and expression, David Kaye, on  “the reported demand by a number  of governments that Qatar  close the Al-Jazeera media network”.  The letter sent to the high  commissioner stressed that  while the protection of the right  of freedom of expression is of  fundamental importance, this  protection is not absolute and restrictions  on the right are permitted  under international law to  protect national security and  public order. “Freedom of expression  cannot be used to justify  and shield the promotion of extremist  narratives,” the letter  notes. The letter also recalls UN  SecurityCouncilResolution 1624  (2005), an historic resolution that  focused on messages that often  precede acts of terrorism and  calls on States to prohibit and  prevent incitement to commit terrorist  acts. The letter refers to the  Joint Declaration on Freedomof  Expression and Countering Violent  Extremism adopted by the  special rapporteur and several regional  and human rights bodies,  which recognises that Statesmay  restrict reporting that is intended  to incite imminent violence, is  likely to incite such violence, and  where there is a direct and immediate  connection between the  reporting and the likelihood or  occurrence of such violence.  In this regard, the letter  makes clear that Al Jazeera’s reporting  has repeatedly crossed  the threshold of incitement to  hostility, violence and discrimination,  and lists several examples  of such content. For instance, on  18 February 2008, following the  re- publication of blasphemous  sketches of the Prophet Mohammed  (PBUH), Al Jazeera TV  broadcast a speech by the  spokesman of the Salah al-Din  brigades in Gaza that called on  Muslims to “burn down the offices  of the newspapers that affronted  our Prophet, and bomb  them so that body parts go flying”.  Two separate plans to assassinate  the cartoonist and staff  of the newspaper that published  the sketcheswere later thwarted  by police.  Most recently, themother and  sister of one of the perpetrators  of the London Bridge attack,  Youssef Zaghba, told the Times  (UK) that her sonwas radicalised  by watching Al-Jazeera. The letter  further highlights how Al  Jazeera has promoted anti-Semitic  violence by broadcasting  sermons by the spiritual leader of  the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf  al-Qaradawi, inwhich he praised  Hitler, described the Holocaust  as “divine punishment”, and  called on Allah to “take this oppressive,  Jewish, Zionist band of  people and kill them, down to  the very last one.”  Also included in the letter are  numerous examples of ongoing  editorial support for terrorist  groups and on-air promotion of  sectarianism by Al Jazeera journalists.  The letter mentions that  over the years,Qatari-owned and  controlled Al Jazeera Arabic has  provided a platform to Osama  bin Laden (al-Qaeda), Abu  Muhammad al Jolani (al-Nusra),  Khaled Mashal (Hamas), Mohammed  Deif (Hamas), Anwar  al-Awlaki (Al-Qaeda), Hassan  Nasrallah (Hizbullah), Ramadan  Shallah (Palestinian Islamic  Jihad), andAbdelHakimBelhadj  (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group),  among others. The letter also explains  that these interviews gave  opportunities for terrorist groups  to threaten, recruit and incite,  without challenge or restraint.  The letter reiterates that the  UAE’s strong objections to Al  Jazeera are not a matter of disagreement  on its editorial standpoints,  but are a direct and necessary  response to its persistent  and dangerous incitement to  hostility, violence and discrimination.  In light of the alarming  examples quoted in the letter,  these objections are legitimate,  well founded and reasonable.  The letter has been issued by  the UAE embassy in Islamabad  on Thursday.    

Originally Posted on The News

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