How Saudi social media combated a racist cartoon

Updated 15 January 2017
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How Saudi social media combated a racist cartoon

JEDDAH: Al-Hayat newspaper cartoonist Nasser Khamis’ racist depiction of expatriate workers as rats taking over private sector jobs sparked a huge backlash among social media users and human rights activists.
The caricature shows a Saudi employee carrying the burdens of “low wages and lack of opportunities” and hanging on a rope while the rat (foreign workers) is trying to cut it.
It sparked nationwide condemnation in social media from Saudis and expats alike. The National Society for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia tweeted that the caricature “degrades human dignity and violates religious texts.”
Dr. Saleh Al-Khathlan, the organization’s vice president, said what Al-Hayat did was contrary to the values and principles of the rights enshrined in the international conventions and charters ratified by the Kingdom.
Twitter users who specify Saudi Arabia as their location expressed outrage over the cartoon.
Mohammed bin Eissa Al-Kanaan (@moh_alkanaan) tweeted: “Expats are not rats! This is a despicable description and a decadent caricature!!”
User @AlSadahG tweeted: “Al-Hayat newspaper must apologize to all expats residing in the Kingdom, as they are not rats nor the reason behind economic issues ravaging the country.”
Faris Al-Torki (@farooi), head of the Youth Businessmen Committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the cartoon was “a very offensive caricature to our expat brothers and they should definitely not be depicted as rats!!! Many of them taught (us), treated us and contributed to building our home with us.”
Abdullah Al-Alami (@AbdullaAlami) tweeted: “If we’re not careful, we may lose our expats to UAE & Qatar, ranked in the top 10 countries for expats in lifestyle & earnings.”
Khamis, who has worked for 12 years at the newspaper, told Al Arabiya News Channel: “I do not find the caricature offensive, because it concerns a particular category of foreign workers that are harmful to the country and are confronted in all countries around the world, in the US, Jordan, Kuwait and the Gulf in general.”
Khamis said the caricature carries several meanings and can be seen from multiple angles, and some people read it in a biased manner.
“We are in a situation where courtesy and political correctness are intolerable, and we must face all harmful categories in the country,” he said. “Indeed, all expats are our brothers.”
He said harmful foreign labor hinders Saudi workers throughout the private sector: “I consider it harmful to the country and disrupts the citizen’s employment.”
He urged critics of the caricature to look at the subject from the citizen’s angle, not that of foreign workers.
“We are suffering at home from unfair dismissal and expats — some of them, not all — who fight Saudis,” he said.
Khamis acknowledged that Saudi Arabia benefits from many foreign workers and vice versa.
He declined to comment when contacted by Arab News. Al-Hayat did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Ministry of Media rejects UEFA’s ‘irresponsible accusations’ of BeoutQ being based in Saudi Arabia

Updated 23 June 2018
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Ministry of Media rejects UEFA’s ‘irresponsible accusations’ of BeoutQ being based in Saudi Arabia

  • The Ministry of Media said it understands that BeoutQ’s set top boxes are available in many places, including Qatar and Eastern Europe. Moreover, UEFA’s irresponsible statement is contrary to what is occurring in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • The Ministry of Media was informed that beIN Sports was the source of UEFA’s reckless allegation. beIN Sports is a subsidiary of the Al Jazeera Media Network (Al Jazeera). KSA banned Al Jazeera’s broadcasts in KSA, beginning in June 2017.

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Media says it has become aware of irresponsible accusations made in a UEFA press release regarding an entity known as BeoutQ. UEFA baselessly claims that BeoutQ “is based in Saudi Arabia.”

The Ministry of Media unequivocally rejects this claim. The Ministry of Media said it understands that BeoutQ’s set top boxes are available in many places, including Qatar and Eastern Europe. Moreover, UEFA’s irresponsible statement is contrary to what is occurring in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

Through its Ministry of Commerce and Investment, KSA has relentlessly combatted BeoutQ’s activities within the country. For instance, the Ministry of Commerce has seized thousands of set-top boxes that would otherwise be used to violate intellectual property (IP) in KSA.

The Government of Saudi Arabia is and will remain devoted to protecting IP rights within the country. The Ministry of Media was informed that beIN Sports was the source of UEFA’s reckless allegation. beIN Sports is a subsidiary of the Al Jazeera Media Network (Al Jazeera). KSA banned Al Jazeera’s broadcasts in KSA, beginning in June 2017.

Al Jazeera is Qatar’s principal media arm for supporting terrorism and promoting instability in the region. Al Jazeera provides a media platform for terrorists to propagate their violent message. KSA has also banned broadcasts by beIN Sports in Saudi Arabia for the same reason.

Al Jazeera’s response to the ban was to escalate its campaign of defamation against KSA. While beIN Sports’s broadcasts, too, have long been used as vehicles for offensive anti-Saudi invective, beIN Sports has amplified its offensive propaganda during the World Cup 2018 — which is ironic because the World Cup is supposed to be a demonstration of how football can bring nations together in harmony.

During the World Cup, beIN has defamed the Saudi Football Federation, insulted Saudi Arabia and its fans and has politicized the World Cup platform in violation of all rules and codes of conduct. For these reasons Al Jazeera and its subsidiary beIN, will never broadcast in Saudi Arabia.

The Ministry of Media accordingly urges that responsible news organizations view the reckless press release by UEFA, as well as beIN Sports’ other unsubstantiated allegations, with suspicion.