Qatar-backed website slammed over cartoon showing Trump 'summoning devil'

Updated 30 May 2017
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Qatar-backed website slammed over cartoon showing Trump 'summoning devil'

LONDON: An incendiary cartoon published by a Qatar-backed news website that shows US President Donald Trump and two Arab leaders apparently summoning the devil has been widely criticized online.
The cartoon, by US-based illustrator Katie Miranda, shows Trump, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi around a crystal ball, in a scene inspired by a real-life photocall during the inauguration of an anti-terror center in Riyadh earlier this month.
But the cartoon, published on Wednesday, shows the devil and an “underworld” below the leaders gathered around the crystal ball, with the line “we have been summoned!” and demons rejoicing at death and “more dead kids!”
It was published by the London-based website Middle East Eye, which despite claiming to be independent and having “no political master,” is widely believed to be backed by Qatar.
Many social media users slammed the publication of the cartoon. One pointed out the irony of the criticism leveled against the three leaders, who had met to inaugurate the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology — nicknamed “Etidal,” or “moderation” — which aims to promote moderation and counter the spread of extremism.
Saudi Twitter user @Alshega criticized the cartoon for making fun of the Etidal center, which was launched earlier this month during Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia.
Another user, from the UAE and who tweets @uae_12G, slammed the cartoon for mocking Saudi Arabia and the Arab and Muslim countries that participated in the Riyadh Summit. And another, tweeting @SBAlketbi, said that Qatar continues to show disrespect through the Middle East Eye website, which is edited by David Hearst, a former foreign correspondent for The Guardian.
Some of the Middle East Eye’s output is perceived by some as being in line with Doha’s stance on certain issues. The Trump “devil” cartoon carried a disclaimer saying the views expressed “do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.”
A former executive with Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV network was reportedly closely involved with setting up the Middle East Eye, which had employed staff with links to organizations sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to a press report from 2014. Al-Jazeera said at the time it had no links to the Middle East Eye.
The website was one of the several Qatar-backed media outlets to be blocked in Saudi Arabia and the UAE earlier this month, in an ongoing political spat with Doha over inflammatory comments attributed to the nation’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
Qatar News Agency (QNA) ran comments by the country’s leader said to have been made at a National Service graduation ceremony.
The emir reportedly endorsed Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah and criticized the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt for waging a campaign against Doha. Qatar later said its news agency had been hacked, although failed to provide concrete evidence of this.


Facebook’s Zuckerberg agrees to live-stream EU parliament hearing

Updated 21 May 2018
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Facebook’s Zuckerberg agrees to live-stream EU parliament hearing

BRUSSELS: Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to live-stream his meeting with European Parliament members as he answers questions in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, a top official said Monday.
The meeting on Tuesday with the parliament’s most senior members was initially set to be held behind closed doors.
But influential MEPs had pushed for a public hearing following the worst crisis in Facebook’s history.
“I have personally discussed with Facebook CEO Mr.Zuckerberg the possibilty of webstreaming meeting with him,” the parliament’s leader Antonio Tajani wrote on Twitter.
“I am glad to announce that he has accepted this new request. Great news for EU citizens,” he added.
Tajani had invited Zuckerberg, saying the 2.7 million EU citizens affected by the data sharing scandal deserved a full explanation.
The visit comes as the EU is introducing tough new data protection rules later this month, which Facebook has said it will comply with.
Facebook admitted earlier this month that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by British consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which worked for US President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect on May 25, aims to give users more control over how their personal information is stored and used online, with big fines for firms that break the rules.
Zuckerberg, who has repeatedly apologized for the massive data breach, told the US Congress in April that the more stringent EU rules could serve as a rough model globally.
The European Parliament hearing will run from 6:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (1615 GMT to 1730 GMT) on Tuesday.
Tajani will also hold a private meeting with Zuckerberg the same day, a spokesman for the parliamentary chief told AFP.
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