UAE warns media over promoting terrorist activities
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.