Storm over Al Jazeera anchor’s post mocking Hurricane Irma victims

Screengrab showing Ahmed Mansour's controversial post on Facebook on Sunday.
Updated 11 September 2017
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Storm over Al Jazeera anchor’s post mocking Hurricane Irma victims

JEDDAH: Social media erupted with criticism over the weekend after a well-known Al Jazeera Arabic presenter mocked US citizens fleeing Hurricane Irma, justifying the destruction as a “display of God’s greatness which many dare to deny.”

Ahmed Mansour, an Egyptian journalist for the Qatar-based TV network, on Saturday posted a photo showing a jammed highway as hundreds of thousands fled the deadly hurricane.

A similar post on Facebook contained the Qur’anic verse, “And He will show you His signs, and what signs of Allah will you deny?”

This brought an onslaught of criticism by social media users angry at Mansour’s suggestion that the hurricane was some kind of "divine punishment."

Some viewed Mansour’s comments as hate speech, while others accused him of twisting the Qur’anic verse to suit his own agenda.

A Facebook user residing in Miami, Florida, responded to Mansour, reminding the journalist that if his post “contained some kind of hatred or gloating against non-Muslims, do not forget that many Muslims actually live in Florida.”

Another commentator pointed out the double standard in Mansour’s discourse: “Back in 2015 when a crane fell on pilgrims in Makkah causing (more than a hundred) deaths, or when (many more) died in the stampede the same year, you called that a ‘test’ from God and a ‘technical’ issue.”
 
Ahmed Mansour faced fierce criticism for his insensitive tweets. He deleted them without offering an apology. 

“How is this any different?” demands the man, adding that Mansour’s comments show grave “hypocrisy and unprofessionalism.”

Mansour posted another update to Facebook, with a video showing airplanes leaving an airport in Florida, captioned with the same Qur’anic verse.

In the wake of the uproar over social media, the news anchor deleted the posts.

Abdellatif El-Menawy, the well-known Egyptian media analyst, denounced Mansour for mocking Americans during a time of natural calamity.

“To suggest that Americans fleeing Hurricane Irma is divine punishment is atrocious, inhuman, insensitive and unprofessional,” El-Menawy told Arab News from Cairo. “This is simply unacceptable.”

El-Menawy questioned the convoluted point Mansour was making, and the logical extension of it.

“Does he think what is happening in Myanmar is divine punishment? Do the Muslims in Myanmar deserve what is happening to them? This is despicable on Mansour’s part. He shouldn’t have said what he said,” said El-Menawy.

Mansour made matters worse by simply deleting the tweet without explanation, El-Menawy added.

“If he has an iota of respect for himself and for his profession, he should apologize for his remarks,” said El-Menawy.

“By deleting the tweet, he has only tried to hide his feelings because of the negative reaction.

“He failed in his duty as a professional (journalist).”

Facebook and Twitter representatives did not immediately respond when asked by Arab News whether Mansour’s comments marked a violation of the services' terms of use. Al Jazeera spokespeople did not respond to a request for comment.


KSA complains to FIFA about Qatar’s BeIN using World Cup as political tool

Updated 19 June 2018
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KSA complains to FIFA about Qatar’s BeIN using World Cup as political tool

  • The federation called on FIFA in its complaint to take severe sanctions against the Qatari channel and to abolish the rights granted to the network.
  • Some of the biggest names in Arab sport have signed a petition to protest against the “politicization” of World Cup coverage by the Qatar-owned broadcaster. 

DUBAI: The Saudi Football Federation has filed an official complaint to FIFA over the Qatar-owned BeIN Sports network’s use of World Cup broadcasts as a means of spreading political messages aimed at insulting Saudi Arabia and its leaders.

This falls within the network’s ongoing attempts to instigate hatred in the region, it said.

The federation said its complaint calls on FIFA to address the unacceptable abuse by the channel of its tools for politicizing the media. This was clear after the World Cup’s opening match between Saudi Arabia and Russia and contrary to the laws of the international federation, which stresses the need to exclude sport from politics.

The federation called on FIFA in its complaint to take severe sanctions against the Qatari channel and to abolish the rights granted to the network.

Meanwhile, some of the biggest names in Arab sport have signed a petition to protest against the “politicization” of World Cup coverage by the Qatar-owned broadcaster. 

The website sports4everyone.org created the petition and invited fans around the world to urge FIFA President Gianni Infantino to investigate the coverage by the Qatari broadcaster’s Arabic channel.

Among the signatories are Egyptian national football player Ahmed Hassan, Al Arabiya’s Sports Editor Battal Al-Goos, and former Saudi national team captain Yousuf Al-Thunayan.

BeIN Sports holds the rights to broadcast World Cup games across the Middle East and North Africa, although its channels are not available in Saudi Arabia, one of four Arab nations locked in a diplomatic dispute with Qatar over the latter’s alleged ties to terror groups. Doha denies the charges. 

“Sport rises above politics. FIFA tried to keep politics away from games. As fans, we are saddened by BeIN using its permission to telecast sports to transmit its political agenda, violating FIFA rules,” the petition read.

The petition website includes nine clips from BeIN Sports featuring pundits and presenters politicizing the match between Saudi Arabia and the host nation, Russia. 

In one of the station’s broadcasts, a commentator accused Saudi Arabia of “selling out the Palestinian cause,” while in another the host suggested the Kingdom’s top sporting officials will become “prisoners at the Ritz-Carlton,” a reference to the detentions in Riyadh during last year’s anti-corruption drive.

Egyptian media analyst Abdellatif El-Menawy said BeIN had “distorted the global football event” by using it as a political tool against Saudi Arabia.

“This is an infringement of the rules and standards of professional media,” El-Menawy told Arab News on Saturday. 

“BeIN Sports has abandoned neutrality and professionalism,” he added, saying the network’s coverage after Saudi Arabia’s 5-0 defeat by Russia was “gloating” and “sarcastic.”