Arab News owner SRMG inaugurates office in Washington’s National Press Building

Prince Badr (center left) met with SRMG executives and editors including Faisal J. Abbas, editor in chief of Arab News (center right) and Ghassan Charbel, editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper (second from left).
Updated 23 March 2018
0

Arab News owner SRMG inaugurates office in Washington’s National Press Building

WASHINGTON: The chairman of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), the publisher of Arab News, on Wednesday inaugurated the media group’s new Washington headquarters at the historic National Press Building.
Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al-Saud was given a tour of the facilities, which will provide support for the editorial and administrative activities across the group’s various businesses.
He was accompanied by Dr. Ghassan Al-Shibl, CEO and managing director of SRMG; Ghassan Charbel, editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper; Faisal J. Abbas, editor in chief of Arab News; and Yasser Al-Ghaslan, SRMG’s Washington office director.
Prince Badr met with a team of journalists and was briefed about the plans of the group and its publications. The office is set to become home to Arab News’ planned Washington bureau, which will complement its existing operations in Saudi Arabia, the wider Middle East, London and Asia.
The launch of the SRMG office was held during the visit by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Washington, as part of a multi-city tour of the US.


Twitter warns global users their tweets violate Pakistani law

Updated 11 December 2018
0

Twitter warns global users their tweets violate Pakistani law

  • Pakistan has previously threatened to block Twitter if the company did not remove content its government found offensive
  • Pakistan banned Facebook for hosting allegedly blasphemous content for two weeks in 2010 while YouTube was unavailable from 2012 to 2016 over an amateur film about the Prophet Muhammad that led to global riots

WASHINGTON: When Canadian columnist Anthony Furey received an email said to be from Twitter’s legal team telling him he may have broken a slew of Pakistani laws, his first instinct was to dismiss it as spam.
But after Googling the relevant sections of Pakistan’s penal code, the Toronto Sun op-ed editor was startled to learn he stood accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad — a crime punishable by death in the Islamic republic — and Twitter later confirmed the correspondence was genuine.
His perceived offense was to post cartoons of the prophet several years ago.
Furey and two prominent critics of extremism in Islam say they are “shocked” to have received notices by the social media giant this past week over alleged violations of Islamabad’s laws, despite having no apparent connection to the South Asian country.
They say the notices amount to an effort to stifle their voices — a charge Twitter denies, arguing the notices came about as a result of “valid requests from an authorized entity,” understood to mean Pakistan, helped users “to take measures to protect their interests,” and the process is not unique to any one country.
But Furey is the third prominent user in the space of days to publicly complain about receiving a message linked to Pakistan.
The other two are Saudi-Canadian activist Ensaf Haidar and Imam Mohammad Tawhidi, a progressive Muslim scholar from Australia who was born in Iran.
Both are outspoken critics of religious extremism and have accused the social media giant of helping to silence progressive ideas within Islam.
Furey, who detailed his experience in a column for his newspaper on Saturday, told AFP: “I’m somewhat alarmed that Twitter would even allow a country to make a complaint like this, as it almost validates their absurd blasphemy laws.”
The tweet in question was a collage of cartoons of Mohammad that he posted four years ago.
“Looking back, I remember I did it right after there had been an Daesh-inspired attack in retaliation over the cartoons,” Furey wrote in his column, adding he had not posted similar material before or since.
Tawhidi meanwhile was sent a similar notice flagging a tweet that called on Australian police to investigate extremism in mosques following a deadly knife attack in Melbourne in November.
The scholar attached the legal notice sent to him by Twitter informing him of possible violations of Pakistani law, and tweeted: “I am not from Pakistan nor am I a Pakistani citizen.
“Pakistan has no authority over what I say. Get out of here.”
Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Twitter told AFP: “In our continuing effort to make our services available to people everywhere, if we receive a valid requests from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time.”
The spokesperson added: “We notify users so that they have the opportunity to review the legal request, and the option to take measures to protect their interests.”
Pakistan has previously threatened to block Twitter if the company did not remove content its government found offensive.
It banned Facebook for hosting allegedly blasphemous content for two weeks in 2010 while YouTube was unavailable from 2012 to 2016 over an amateur film about the Prophet Muhammad that led to global riots.
Furey told AFP that although he was taken aback by the notice, “I’m at least glad they brought it to my attention that the Pakistan government has their eye on me.”
But he added: “One troubling consequence to all of this is that even people in countries without these blasphemy laws may start to self-censor for fear of the reach foreign governments will have over them in the online world.”