UAE warns me­dia over pro­mot­ing ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties

The Star Early Edition - - INTERNATIONAL - Regis Nya­makanga

THE UNITED Arab Emi­rates (UAE) have warned that some me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions are pro­mot­ing ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties un­der the guise of free­dom of ex­pres­sion, de­scrib­ing it as an af­front to in­ter­na­tional law.

UAE Min­is­ter of State for For­eign Af­fairs, Dr An­war Gar­gash, said yes­ter­day that the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity should be “vig­i­lant” as some jour­nal­ists and new tech­nolo­gies were be­ing ex­ploited by ter­ror­ist groups to dis­sem­i­nate ex­trem­ist ide­olo­gies, re­cruit fol­low­ers and mo­bilise fund­ing.

While the UAE ac­cepted that the right to free­dom of ex­pres­sion was of para­mount im­por­tance, the min­is­ter said re­stric­tions on the right were per­mit­ted un­der in­ter­na­tional law in or­der to pro­tect na­tional se­cu­rity and main­tain pub­lic or­der.

Dr Gar­gash was re­act­ing to a re­cent state­ment by the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hus­sein, re­gard­ing a call by a num­ber of states for Qatar to close down the Al-Jazeera Me­dia Net­work.

“It is im­por­tant to re­it­er­ate… that free­dom of ex­pres­sion can­not be abused or used in a way which pro­motes ex­trem­ist nar­ra­tives. The Joint Dec­la­ra­tion on Free­dom of Ex­pres­sion and Coun­ter­ing Vi­o­lent Ex­trem­ism adopted by sev­eral re­gional and hu­man rights bod­ies recog­nises that states may re­strict the right to free­dom of ex­pres­sion where there is a risk of incit­ing vi­o­lence,” he said.

Gar­gash said Al-Jazeera had on many oc­ca­sions “crossed the thresh­old” and re­ported in a man­ner that could “in­crease in­cite­ment” to vi­o­lence, hos­til­ity and dis­crim­i­na­tion.

For in­stance, on Fe­bru­ary 18, 2008, fol­low­ing the re-pub­li­ca­tion of a car­toon of the Prophet Mo­hammed, Al Jazeera TV broad­cast a speech by the spokesper­son of the Salah al-Din brigades in Gaza that called on Mus­lims to “burn down” of­fices of the news­pa­per that pub­lished the car­toon. Two sep­a­rate plans to as­sas­si­nate the car­toon­ist and staff of the news­pa­per that pub­lished the car­toon, were thwarted by the po­lice.

In ad­di­tion, Al-Jazeera had pro­moted anti-Semitic vi­o­lence by broad­cast­ing ser­mons by the spir­i­tual leader of the Mus­lim Brother­hood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi,

Gar­gash says Al-Jazeera has on many oc­ca­sions ‘crossed the thresh­old’.

in which he praised Hitler and de­scribed the Holo­caust as “di­vine pun­ish­ment” against the Jewish peo­ple.

“It is im­por­tant to note 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) and Ab­del Hakim Bel­hadj (Libyan Is­lamic Fight­ing Group) among oth­ers.

“These have not been sim­ply top­i­cal in­ter­views of a kind that other chan­nels might run; rather, Al-Jazeera has pre­sented op­por­tu­ni­ties for ter­ror­ist groups to threaten, re­cruit and in­cite without chal­lenge or re­straint.

“The govern­ment of the UAE main­tains that its ob­jec­tions to Al-Jazeera are not a mat­ter of dis­agree­ment on its ed­i­to­rial stand­points, but are rather based upon the net­work’s dan­ger­ous in­cite­ment to vi­o­lence, through the per­sis­tent pro­mo­tion of ex­trem­ist nar­ra­tives”, he said.

UAE Min­is­ter of State for For­eign Af­fairs, Dr An­war Gar­gash.

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