Did Qatari media side with Daesh by attacking MBC’s ‘Black Crows’?

A screenshot from Ramadan TV drama ‘Black Crows’ produced by the MBC Group.
Updated 06 June 2017

Did Qatari media side with Daesh by attacking MBC’s ‘Black Crows’?

LONDON: The Qatar-owned media have incited terror and death threats against a rival broadcaster over the hit Ramadan TV drama “Black Crows,” it has been claimed, leading to questions over whether the Doha-backed channels are standing up for extremist ideology.
The series, produced by the Saudi-owned MBC Group, dramatizes the brutal life under Daesh rule in Syria and Iraq, documenting crimes like the sexual assault, enslavement and rape of women.
Yet Al-Jazeera’s Arabic-language service has attacked the show, helping stoke terror threats against the channel and its employees, an MBC executive said.
One tweet by the channel on June 2, for example, implied that “Black Crows” is demeaning to Sunni Islam and that the show positioned women living under Daesh rule as hungry for sex. “Black Crows: A TV series to fight terror, or providing a free service for extremist groups showing Sunni Muslim women seeking sex?” the channel’s provocative message, which has been retweeted more than 22,000 times, asked.
Other Qatar-backed media also took a critical stance on the “Black Crows” show, given that it is made by a Saudi-owned broadcaster.
The London-based Middle East Eye, for example, claimed that the show “underlines Saudi’s self-appointed role as bulwark against extremism but critics say (the) Kingdom is a sponsor of violence and intolerance.”
Ali Jaber, MBC’s director of television, questioned why the Qatari channel was attacking the show and inciting violence against MBC’s employees.
“What is hard to swallow is why… the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera, which understands very well the risks of inciting radicals against media practitioners, would want to put the lives of their colleagues at MBC at risk when they are supposed to be with us in the same anti-terrorism camp,” Jaber told Arab News.
“They should rise above any politics… media ethics should never be affected.”
MBC Group was forced to step up security at its facilities across the Middle East following Daesh threats made over the broadcast of “Black Crows,” while Kuwaiti actress Mona Shaddad has said she and other cast members had received death threats, according to media reports.
Jaber said he could not understand why Al-Jazeera or others would criticize “Black Crows,” which is clearly aimed at confronting the tyranny of Daesh.
“This is not the first time we face criticism or even threats at MBC; however our position has been and will always be (to confront) extremism in all shapes and forms,” he said.
Asked about claims by the likes of Al-Jazeera that “Black Crows” demeans Sunni Islam and positions women as sex-hungry — rather than as victims of rape and cruelty under Daesh rule — Jaber said: “First and foremost, the show did not invent the reality that Daesh exists, or make up how they treat women or brainwash them. This is something, which you see or read about in the news every day.
“All… we are doing is merely criticizing in a dramatic way and alerting viewers to the many ways this evil group propagates its ideas.”
Some of the accusations made against “Black Crows” imply that its critics believe Daesh should not be condemned in such TV dramas, Jaber argued.
“What is yet to be understood is why this upsets critics? What are they trying to say? That Daesh should not be criticized and condemned every day and in every way possible? What is their interest? This is particularly strange since we should all be aligned when it comes to countering extremist ideology,” Jaber said.
He then slammed critics by saying: “It is always very easy to discredit or move public opinion against anything or anyone by accusing them of being sectarian; this is absolutely unethical and irresponsible.”
He added: “MBC takes these threats seriously because we have paid a dear price for our moderation and opposition to violent extremism. Fifteen of our colleagues were killed over the past decades but it never deterred us from doing the right thing be it against Sunni or Shiite extremism.”
Journalist Abdel Latif El-Menawy, the former head of Egypt’s state TV news under ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, said that Qatar had been “furiously attacking” its neighbors in the Gulf.
He said the Al-Jazeera TV channel had “unintentionally revealed its true positions” in its attack on the MBC series.
“They stood in the same trench as the terrorist groups in Syria, such as the Al-Nusra Front, and other groups which joined Al-Jazeera in attacking the MBC series,” he said.
The allegations against Al-Jazeera come at a time of heightened tensions in the Gulf region.
Several Arab and Islamic countries on Monday cut diplomatic ties with Qatar over Doha’s alleged support for extremist groups.

WATCH: Black Crows Episode 1

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Google fined $1.7bn for search ad blocks

Updated 20 March 2019

Google fined $1.7bn for search ad blocks

  • Google received three fines in the past two years
  • EU Commission says Google has been blocking competitors for the past ten years

BRUSSELS: Google was fined $1.7 billion on Wednesday for blocking rival online search advertisers, the third large European Union antitrust penalty for the Alphabet business in two only years.

The European Commission, which said the fine accounted for 1.29 percent of Google’s turnover in 2018, said in a statement that the anti-competitive practices had lasted a decade.

“Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

The case concerned websites, such as of newspaper or travel sites, with a search function that produces search results and search adverts. Google’s AdSense for Search provided such search adverts.

The misconduct included stopping publishers from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages, forcing them to reserve the most profitable space on their search results pages for Google’s adverts and a requirement to seek written approval from Google before making changes to the way in which any rival adverts were displayed.

The AdSense advertising case was triggered by a complaint from Microsoft in 2010. Both companies subsequently dropped complaints against each other in 2016.

Last year, Vestager imposed a record $4.92 billion fine on Google for using its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals. This followed a $2.74 billion fine in June 2017 for hindering rivals of shopping comparison websites.

Google is now trying to comply with the order to ensure a level playing field with proposals to boost price comparison rivals and prompt Android users to choose their preferred browsers and search apps. Critics however are still not happy.