Al Jazeera under fire for tweet ‘justifying’ attacking Saudi Arabia, Israel in response to Syria strike

A ballistic missile is seen after it was fired toward the Saudi capital of Riyadh from an undisclosed location in Yemen, in this handout photo released December 19, 2017 by the Houthi movement's War Media. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 April 2018

Al Jazeera under fire for tweet ‘justifying’ attacking Saudi Arabia, Israel in response to Syria strike

LONDON: Al Jazeera has again been criticized for allegedly justifying violence, after it broadcast unchallenged comments by the leader of Yemen’s Houthi militias urging the bombing of Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The Qatari broadcaster on Saturday tweeted comments apparently made by Abdul Malik Al-Houthi in reaction to the recent missile strikes on Syria.
The US, the UK and France early on Saturday launched strikes on positions and bases in response to the chemical weapons attack conducted by Syrian President Bashar Assad on Douma. Al Jazeera’s Arabic service tweeted: “Houthi leader: The best response to the military aggression on Syria is bombing the financier Saudi Arabia and Israel, the partner.”

That is despite the fact that Qatar itself had expressed support for the US, British and French operations against military targets used by the Syrian regime. The broadcast of the Houthi leader’s unchallenged comments was last night likened to justifying violence, with the Al Jazeera media network allegedly being used as a “weapon” by Doha, one claimed.


 “Al Jazeera once again proves it is far away from neutrality, when it considers that violence against those who disagree with it is justified,” said Abdellatif El-Menawy, an Egyptian media analyst.

“Undoubtedly, Al Jazeera is not a media outlet but a weapon and a tool in the hands of the Qatari regime.”

Mohammed Alyahya, a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council and senior fellow at the Gulf Research Center, said Al Jazeera has become a consistent platform for the Houthis since the Qatar crisis began almost a year ago.

“Its publishing of Houthi material without scrutiny is reminiscent to its controversial and widely condemned coverage of Al-Qaeda materials, most notably Osama bin Laden’s recoded speeches, after 2001,” he said.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist, said that Al Jazeera “helps to achieve Qatar’s foreign policy objectives rather than assist ordinary people to acquire the truth.”

He told Arab News that the Qatari network’s reporting and tweets are “more likely incite violence, provoke terror, and provide a platform for militias or terrorists.”

​“Media outlets should not be allowed to promote extremism under the cover of freedom of expression.​ Many have criticized Al Jazeera’s attempts to change the direction of politics in other countries in favor of Doha rather than the ordinary people of those nations, such as leaning toward the Muslim Brotherhood, supporting Libya’s armed revolt and using softer language about terrorist groups such as Daesh, among others,” he added.

“In addition, according to the American Journalism Review, critics have pointed to Al Jazeera’s ‘anti-Semitic, anti-American bias in the channel’s news content’.”

The Qatar-funded Al Jazeera has faced numerous allegations of inciting violence and being a “platform” for terrorists. In March, it was accused of providing a “platform” for the Houthi militias, having aired comments by the group just minutes after a ballistic missile attack targeting civilians in Saudi Arabia.

Many Twitter users were critical of Al Jazeera’s coverage of the attack, with an Arabic hashtag, translating as “Qatar media support Houthi,” trending. Earlier in March, the network came under fire for “normalizing terrorism” in its coverage of an attack on the French Embassy in Burkina Faso.

Ghanem Nuseibeh, founder of Cornerstone Global, a management consultancy focused on the Middle East, claimed Al Jazeera reporting on the Burkina Faso terrorist attack was skewed.

“Al Jazeera Arabic . . . refuses to call Al-Qaeda ‘terrorists,’ instead says ‘whom authorities describe as terrorists,’” he tweeted. “Common with Al Jazeera normalizing terrorism in eyes of its readers.” Al Jazeera did not respond to a request for comment when contacted by Arab News.



• Qatar-based broadcaster tweeted Houthi leader's comments urging bombing of Saudi Arabia • Network being used 'as a weapon' by Doha: Analyst

Lebanese celebrities join Beirut protests as anger rises over tax reforms

Updated 19 October 2019

Lebanese celebrities join Beirut protests as anger rises over tax reforms

  • A video emerged on social media showing actress Nadine Al-Rassi preparing to set fire to a car tire in downtown Beirut
  • In a series of tweets, Lebanese recording artist Elissa, who is abroad, supported the protesters’ demands

BEIRUT: Lebanese celebrities joined thousands of protesters on the streets of Beirut on Saturday to voice their anger at the country’s ruling elite.
Singers, actors and playwrights were among a host of high-profile artists who backed demands for action over government corruption and to counter Lebanon’s spiralling economic crisis.
Beirut has been shrouded in smoke for three days following widespread protests and rioting over government tax plans.
A video emerged on social media showing actress Nadine Al-Rassi preparing to set fire to a car tire in downtown Beirut and crying inconsolably about her financial state.
The actress, wearing jeans and her face blackened, told protesters: “I am Nadine Al-Rassi. I was hungry for seven days. I have debts. Banque du Liban (Lebanon’s central bank) seized my house and I am unable to rent a home. Corrupt people should be held responsible.”

In a series of tweets, Lebanese recording artist Elissa, who is abroad, supported the protesters’ demands, saying: “This is the first time I wish I were in Lebanon. My heart is with you.”
In another tweet, the high-profile singer, one of the Middle East’s best-selling performers, said: “I proudly follow the news of Beirut and its citizens ... who are demanding a decent life. It is time for people to get back their dignity.”
Meanwhile, singer and composer Ragheb Alama expressed his dismay at a Council of Ministers plan to impose a daily fee on WhatsApp calls.
“The people’s misfortunes are not funny. Why don’t you tax the polluted air people breathe? It is a great idea that brings money to your fathers’ treasury, too,” he wrote.
Alama accused the Parliament of responsibility for the country’s dire economy: “Why do deputies receive money, privileges and overheads, and what have they done? They covered up for looting and stealing for decades. They are responsible for destroying the economy and the country.”
Nancy Ajram, one of the Arab world’s most popular singers, wrote on Twitter: “My heart goes out to my country every moment and with every heartbeat. We are a people who deserves to live and it is our right to live with dignity. May God protect Lebanon.”
Singer and actress Haifa Wehbe tweeted: “There is nothing better than the Lebanese people when they stand in unity and under one slogan, without any political affiliation. We are all for our country.”
Comedian and prime-time TV host Hisham Haddad was among celebrities who joined protesters at Riad El-Solh Square, near the Prime Minister’s office, site of the biggest centralized demonstrations.
Actress Maguy Bou Ghosn, singer Moeen Shreif, actors Abdo Chahine, Badih Abou Chakra and Junaid Zeineldine, playwright Ziad Itani and musician Ziyad Sahhab also joined the protests.
Actor Wissam Hanna called on Twitter for protesters to close the Beirut Airport road to stop corrupt officials fleeing the country.
“I am all for closing down the airport road to stop thieves from fleeing. I am all for recovering stolen funds. Lebanon rises, revolts and it is time to hold them accountable,” he wrote.
Actress Gretta Aoun said: “We have to take to the streets. They must know the extent of our pain.”