British media watchdog accused of giving Al Jazeera ‘global credibility’

Updated 30 September 2017

British media watchdog accused of giving Al Jazeera ‘global credibility’

LONDON: Ofcom, the British broadcasting regulator, has been accused of giving “global credibility” to Al Jazeera’s Arabic-language news channel.
In a letter to the media watchdog, the UK-based ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain complained about Al Jazeera’s Arabic service, which is available in millions of homes across the country.
They argued that by sanctioning Al Jazeera’s English-language service, Ofcom was granting “global credibility” to its Arabic-language channel, which they said was “undoubtedly sympathetic” toward Daesh, according to a report in The Times newspaper.
The letter reportedly argued that Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel benefits from Al Jazeera English’s credibility by association, despite the fact that Al Jazeera Arabic is not licensed or currently regulated in the UK. The letter highlighted that Daesh was referred to as an “organization” rather than a terrorist group by the channel.
Ofcom said there was little it could do, as the Arabic channel was not licensed in the UK, but they had passed on the letter to the relevant authority in Italy, where the channel does hold a license.
“Al Jazeera Arabic is not licensed in the UK, so is not subject to our broadcasting rules,” an Ofcom spokesperson told Arab News.
“But we have passed this letter of complaint to the media regulator in Italy, where the channel holds a license, for urgent consideration.”
The Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) — comprising Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE — broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar in June, with the closure of Al Jazeera being one of the ATQ’s 13 demands of Doha in the days immediately after the start of the rift.
Al Jazeera did not respond to a request for comment.


India shuts down Internet in hotspot after deadly protests

Updated 13 December 2019

India shuts down Internet in hotspot after deadly protests

  • Protests erupted this week after the government introduced new legislation that many in the far-flung northeast believe will give citizenship to immigrants
  • On Friday morning thousands gathered in central Guwahati as riot police looked on

GUWAHATI: Internet access was cut in India’s northeastern city of Guwahati on Friday as thousands gathered for fresh protests against a new citizenship law, a day after police shot dead two demonstrators.
Protests erupted this week after the government introduced new legislation that many in the far-flung northeast believe will give citizenship to immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh, and which other critics say is anti-Muslim.
On Friday morning thousands gathered in central Guwahati as riot police looked on, with residents hurrying out to buy essentials.
No fresh violence was reported but Guwahati and other areas remained littered from the detritus of recent days, with some roads blocked by fallen trees, concrete poles, stones and iron railings. Many cash machines have run out of cash and most petrol stations were also shut.
A local government official said that Internet access in the Guwahati, the main city of Assam state, had been cut and an AFP reporter confirmed that connections appeared to have been suspended.
The Meghalaya state government has also cut off mobile Internet, with parts of the capital Shillong brought under curfew since Thursday evening.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was planning to scrap a visit to the city due to begin on Sunday as the security situation deteriorated, media reported Friday. The Japanese leader had been slated to hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On Thursday, police had fired live and blank rounds as thousands of demonstrators in Guwahati and elsewhere took to the streets, some vandalising property and torching vehicles.
The two demonstrators killed in the city were among around 20 people being treated in hospital, “a few” of whom had gunshot wounds, said Ramen Talukdar, a doctor at a Guwahati hospital.
Hundreds of passengers stuck at Guwahati airport were brought to the city on government buses with police escort in the early hours of Friday morning.
Several thousand troops have been drafted in to help police, who fired tear gas and charged demonstrators with batons, in recent days.
Security was increased at the Bangladeshi consulate in Guwahati after a vehicle in the consul’s convoy was attacked Wednesday by mobs, the foreign ministry in Dhaka said.
“They cant settle anyone in our motherland. This is unacceptable. We will die but not allow outsiders to settle here,” Manav Das, a protester told AFP on Friday.
“We will defeat the government with the force of the people and the government will be forced to revoke the law,” said local activist Samujal Battacharya.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), signed into law by the Indian president late Thursday, allows for the fast-tracking of applications from religious minorities from three neighboring countries, but not Muslims.
For Islamic groups, the opposition and rights groups, it is part of Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda to marginalize India’s 200 million Muslims. He denies this.
The US State Department on Thursday urged India to “protect the rights of its religious minorities,” according to Bloomberg.
But many in India’s northeast object for different reasons, fearing that immigrants from Bangladesh — many of them Hindus — will become citizens, taking jobs and weakening the local culture.
The chief ministers of the states of Punjab in the north and Kerala in the south also said that they would not implement the law, the Hindu daily reported.
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