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.


French court throws out Qatari-owned beIN Sports’ ‘unproven’ broadcast piracy claim against Arabsat

Updated 10 min 57 sec ago
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French court throws out Qatari-owned beIN Sports’ ‘unproven’ broadcast piracy claim against Arabsat

  • The court rejected beIN’s allegations and demanded that beIN pay a fine of €6,000 to Arabsat’s adviser

LONDON: The Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris has thrown out beIN Media group’s allegations against the Arab Satellite Communications Organisation — better known as Arabsat.

The French court rejected beIN’s allegations and demanded that beIN pay a fine of €6,000 to Arabsat’s adviser, and the prosecution costs of Arabsat amounting to €25,000.

Arabsat said it welcomed the ruling, which made clear there was no link between Arabsat and piracy.

The court said beIN had failed to demonstrate “clear illegal disruption or prove immediate risk of commercial damage.”

In a statement issued after the conclusion of the legal proceedings in Paris, the satellite company said that it respected the integrity of the French judiciary and was pleased with how skillfully and professionally the allegations of Qatar’s Al Jazeera subsidiary, beIN Sports, were addressed.

“The French judiciary’s ruling, rejecting beIN’s lawsuit and allegations against Arabsat, has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt our organization’s valid position from day one, despite beIN Sport’s attempts to cast doubt on that position; its media smear campaign; and its relentless attempts to push bogus and misleading claims,” Arabsat said in a statement following the ruling.

It marks the latest legal chapter in a long running feud that has produced claim and counter claim.  In a press release issued on May 2, 2018 beIN accused Arabsat of “facilitation of satellite broadcasts by the notorious Saudi-based piracy network, cynically known as “beoutQ”.

Founded in 1976, Arabsat has grown to become the leading satellite services provider in the Arab world.

It broadcasts over 500 TV channels, 200 radio stations, pay-tv networks as well as HD channels to millions of homes across 80 countries.

It has an estimated audience of over 170 million viewers in the Middle East and North Africa.

Doha-based beIN was founded in 2014 and operates 60 channels in 43 countries.