Gargash accuses Al Jazeera of inciting religious hate
The letter makes clear that Al Jazeera's reporting has repeatedly crossed the threshold of incitement to hostility
Abu Dhabi - He has sent a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights about persistent promotion of extremist ideologies by Qatar's Al Jazeera channel.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash has sent a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights about persistent promotion of extremist ideologies by Qatar's Al Jazeera channel.
"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 the international law to protect national security and public order," said Dr Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash in the letter sent on July 9, 2017, to Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in response to a statement made by the High Commissioner's spokesperson on June 30, 2017.
The minister's letter also referred to a statement made on June 28, 2017 by special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye on "the reported demand by a number of governments that Qatar close the Al Jazeera media network".
"Freedom of expression cannot be used to justify and shield the promotion of extremist narratives," the letter notes.
The minister recalls UN Security Council Resolution 1624 (2005), a 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 Freedom of Expression and Countering Violent Extremism adopted by the special rapporteur and several regional and human rights bodies, which recognises that states may restrict reporting that is intended to incite imminent 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 February 18, 2008, following the re-publication of a blasphemous cartoon, 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 cartoon, were later thwarted by police. Most recently, the mother and sister of one of the perpetrators of the London Bridge attack Youssef Zaghba told the Times (UK) that her son was radicalised by watching Al Jazeera.
The letter further highlights how Al Jazeera has promoted anti-Semitic violence by broadcasting sermons by spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood Yusuf Al Qaradawi in which 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 the ongoing editorial support for terrorist groups and on-air promotion of sectarianism by Al Jazeera journalists. The letter mentions that, over the years, the Qatari-owned and controlled Al Jazeera Arabic has provided a platform to Osama bin Laden (Al Qaeda), Abu Mohammed Al Jolani (Al Nusra), Khaled Mashal (Hamas), Mohammed Deif (Hamas), Anwar Al Awlaki (Al Qaeda), Hassan Nasrallah (Hezbullah), Ramadan Shallah (Palestinian Islamic Jihad), and Abdel Hakim Belhadj (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group), among others.
The letter also explains that these interviews gave terrorist groups opportunities to threaten, recruit and incite, without challenge or restraint.
The minister reiterated 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 concludes with an invitation to the High Commissioner to discuss additional cases of Al Jazeera's promotion of extremist ideologies and ways to protect the right of freedom of expression in the face of such egregious abuses.
Developments so far
1-US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met ministers from four Arab states in Jeddah on Wednesday to try to end a dispute with Qatar, but there was no word of a breakthrough
2-Tillerson also met the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, and passed on greetings from President Donald Trump
3-The Saudi allies reiterated 13 wide-ranging demands they had earlier submitted to Qatar as a condition for removing sanctions
4-UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said Tillerson's visit was not likely to resolve the dispute. "I think it will ease tensions but it's just postponing the problem, which will grow in the future."
5-France said its foreign minister would visit the Gulf, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, on July 15-16 as part of its own mediation efforts
6-The four boycotting states said they appreciated US efforts in fighting terrorism but a two-party Qatari deal signed with US on Wednesday is not enough to end the crisis
7-Dr Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, accused Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera of anti-Semitism, discrimination and inciting religious hate
8-He accused Al Jazeera of having repeatedly crossed the threshold of incitement to hostility, violence and discrimination, broadcasting speeches of slain Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden