US accused of double standards over Khashoggi, urged to deploy same sanctions on killers of other Arab journalists

People gather to commemorate prominent Lebanese activist and intellectual Luqman Slim at place de la Sorbonne in the French capital Paris, on February 11, 2021. (AFP)
People gather to commemorate prominent Lebanese activist and intellectual Luqman Slim at place de la Sorbonne in the French capital Paris, on February 11, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 28 February 2021

US accused of double standards over Khashoggi, urged to deploy same sanctions on killers of other Arab journalists

People gather to commemorate prominent Lebanese activist and intellectual Luqman Slim at place de la Sorbonne in the French capital Paris, on February 11, 2021. (AFP)
  • Critics are asking why the US administration is not deploying the same standards to the killers of other journalists, and those involved with similar violence across the region
  • As the US continues to appease Iran in order to bring it back to the nuclear negotiation table, its proxies could get away with silencing even more journalists and critics

LONDON: After US President Joe Biden’s administration took measures to sanction Saudi officials that took part in 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, several Middle East experts have accused the US of deploying double standards.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, as well as several US State Department officials, have repeatedly said that Washington will no longer tolerate the targeting of journalists and dissidents. The case of Jamal Khashoggi has been at the center of these statements.

However, critics are asking why the US administration is not deploying the same standards to the killers of other journalists, and those involved with similar violence across the region.

“We should ask ourselves what is the purpose behind the publication of the report? It is very obvious that the revival of the issue after two years aims at putting pressure on Saudi Arabia,” US-Arab affairs expert Dr. Dania Koleilat Khatib told Arab News.

Another commentator, Hussain Abdul-Hussain, tweeted: “Now that we have finished from the Khashoggi affair, can the US give any attention to the assassination of Hisham Al-Hashemi and Lokman Slim? Or is there no lobby behind them to demand the disclosure of their killers?”

Indeed, while this month’s killing of Lebanese publisher and vocal Hezbollah critic Luqman Slim was condemned by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, that was as far as it went — and his statement even shied away from naming the known culprits, Hezbollah.

Another, Iraqi researcher, Hisham al-Hashimi, was shot dead outside his Baghdad home last year in a drive-by long-suspected to have been set up by Iran-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah.

“We also should examine the timing. It is while the US is seeking to go back to the nuclear deal. This could be a tool to pressure Saudi Arabia to accept the decisions of the US regarding Iran, and to coerce the Kingdom into making concessions,” Khatib said, adding: “They don’t want to disturb the flow of communications with Iran.”

She said: “Even though the US is committed to human rights, how adamant and forceful they are in taking a position is taken in a political context.”

While more critics of Iran, its proxies and allies in the region are shot dead by “unknown groups,” much of what the US clearly focuses on is what benefits itself politically. President Biden’s pursuit to label Saudi Arabia as a pariah, as he previously argued for, comes at the cost of allowing Iran and its armed groups in the region to literally get away with murder.

Lebanese journalists Samir Kassir and Gebran Tueini were vocal in their political criticism, and both were assassinated for their vocal critiques by perpetrators that have yet to serve justice.

Journalists killed with no consequences

 
Samir Kassir

Assassinated: 2 June 2005

 
Gebran Tueini

Assassinated: 12 December 2005
 

 
Atwar Bahjat

Assassinated: 22 February 2006
 

 
Hisham El-Hashemi

Assassinated: 6 July 2020

 
Luqman Slim

Assassinated: 4 February 2021

 

Arab countries and groups have expressed their support for Saudi Arabia’s rejection of the report, while stressing the pivotal role that the Kingdom plays in consolidating security in the region.

Political reporter and analyst Ray Hanania told Arab News: “The killing of Jamal Khashoggi is a human tragedy, but the US and the media are determined to play a hypocritical game of political exploitation to balance their foreign agenda.”

He added: “The International Federation of Journalists reports that in 2020, 66 journalists were killed, and yet it seems like only one journalist matters. This in part has also to do with media bias.

“The media, US Congress and activists showcase only one tragedy out of hundreds of journalist killings, because Khashoggi’s death is related to an acceptable foreign policy attack.”

President Biden took little time to retract the terrorist designation that the Trump administration had slapped on the Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi militia, and yet the group continues to lob ballistic missiles to Riyadh on a daily basis.

So as the US continues to appease Iran in order to bring it back to the nuclear negotiation table, its proxies could get away with silencing even more journalists and critics.


TikTok joins coalition to protect children from online abuse

TikTok reiterated its commitment to minors’ safety on the platform, and emphasized its zero tolerance for any content that perpetuates the abuse, harm, endangerment or exploitation of children. (Reuters/File Photo)
TikTok reiterated its commitment to minors’ safety on the platform, and emphasized its zero tolerance for any content that perpetuates the abuse, harm, endangerment or exploitation of children. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 06 May 2021

TikTok joins coalition to protect children from online abuse

TikTok reiterated its commitment to minors’ safety on the platform, and emphasized its zero tolerance for any content that perpetuates the abuse, harm, endangerment or exploitation of children. (Reuters/File Photo)

LONDON: Networking platform TikTok announced on Wednesday that it has joined the Technology Coalition, an organization that works to protect children from online sexual exploitation and abuse. 

Through this membership, TikTok aims to advance protections for children online and offline. 

TikTok reiterated its commitment to minors’ safety on the platform, and emphasized its zero tolerance for any content that perpetuates the abuse, harm, endangerment or exploitation of children, as outlined in the Community Guidelines. 

The announcement also features TikTok’s endorsement of the International Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, in an effort to ensure a consistent and strong response to exploitation across services.


AudioSwim on song to help achieve fair pay for UAE artists

Label services and music distribution company, AudioSwim, is looking to bring the hype to the UAE and help artists jump on the NFT bandwagon. (Supplied)
Label services and music distribution company, AudioSwim, is looking to bring the hype to the UAE and help artists jump on the NFT bandwagon. (Supplied)
Updated 06 May 2021

AudioSwim on song to help achieve fair pay for UAE artists

Label services and music distribution company, AudioSwim, is looking to bring the hype to the UAE and help artists jump on the NFT bandwagon. (Supplied)
  • Company aims to revolutionize music industry in next 5 years using latest digital technology

DUBAI: Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – a type of digital asset created to track ownership of a virtual item – have become all the rage with their market capitalization shooting up by 1,785 percent this year alone.

Although much of the conversation has been around art, NFTs are now gaining popularity in the music industry too. In March, the American rock band Kings of Leon released their first NFT album, “When You See Yourself,” generating more than $2 million in NFT sales.

Now, label services and music distribution company, AudioSwim, is looking to bring the hype to the UAE and help artists jump on the NFT bandwagon.

The company is headed by Albert Carter, a label owner, manager, and distributor who has worked in the music industry for the last 15 years.

He told Arab News: “You, as an individual, are non-fungible. Let’s pretend you are an NFT and, yes, you are one of 7 billion people, but there is only one of you. So, if you are a token, the rest of the 7 billion people are the other people on the blockchain (a digital record of transactions made with cryptocurrencies).

“You, as an individual, cannot be replaced in this world. If you place yourself on the blockchain, people will have to purchase you. They won’t be able to purchase another person even if that person has the same name, body type, and more; that person has to be you.”

Applying this rationale to music, Carter said artists could release their songs and give ownership to their fans.

AudioSwim’s role in the equation was to sell a portion of the royalties based on how much of their music artists decided to sell. The company’s distribution platform will allow artists to buy, sell, or trade music royalties with fans on a blockchain-secured platform.

“This allows them (artists) to earn crypto, which can be converted to cash, directly from the royalties paid on the songs from the artist catalog,” Carter added.

NFTs offer several benefits for musicians, including more transparency and a better relationship with fans.

“NFTs also provide a proof of authenticity and copyright protection since all information is verified on the blockchain. The original artists always get paid from any appreciating value on their music,” he said.

The transition to a digital world would not be entirely plain sailing and the mix of cultures in the UAE made it harder for outsiders to understand the local music scene, but Carter noted that the country was already leading the way in blockchain technology.

“With Dubai holding the Future Blockchain Summit, and expected growth of up to $20 billion, it’s an exciting time for any artist looking to take control of their music,” he added.

AudioSwim currently operates in the US, the UK, Nigeria, South Africa, and the UAE, and has plans for further expansion.

“We are looking to take the full-scale label service model global. However, we see the Middle East and North Africa region as our primary focus to empower regional artists first,” Carter said.


Dubai Chamber of Commerce, TikTok to launch platform to support SMEs

Participants will get access to a dedicated online educational portal that will offer training in digital marketing and advise businesses on how to get started on TikTok. (Shutterstock)
Participants will get access to a dedicated online educational portal that will offer training in digital marketing and advise businesses on how to get started on TikTok. (Shutterstock)
Updated 05 May 2021

Dubai Chamber of Commerce, TikTok to launch platform to support SMEs

Participants will get access to a dedicated online educational portal that will offer training in digital marketing and advise businesses on how to get started on TikTok. (Shutterstock)
  • ‘We look forward to upskilling this thriving community,’ TikTok official tells Arab News
  • A 4-week educational program will help 1,000 startups and SMEs

LONDON: The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with TikTok to create and launch the Dubai Chamber — TikTok Academy.

A four-week educational program will help 1,000 startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the region to grow their businesses using the content-creation platform.

Participants will get access to a dedicated online educational portal that will offer training in digital marketing and advise businesses on how to get started on TikTok, creative content, marketing campaign creation and optimization. 

“We’re excited to join forces with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in supporting the digitization of startups and SMEs in the region,” Shant Oknayan, general manager of global business solutions at TikTok, told Arab News.

“We look forward to upskilling this thriving community, who will not only become experts in content creation and digital marketing, but in turn expedite their growth by leveraging the TikTok platform in this challenging year.” 

Participants will benefit from various sessions on dedicated business canvassing for startup ideas, and knowledge-sharing sessions with industry experts.

Upon completion of the program, participants will receive a digital participation badge and a chance to win prizes for best TikTok video and best campaign. 


Anti-Islam pundit leads ‘France’s Fox News’ channel

Anti-Islam pundit leads ‘France’s Fox News’ channel
Updated 05 May 2021

Anti-Islam pundit leads ‘France’s Fox News’ channel

Anti-Islam pundit leads ‘France’s Fox News’ channel
  • Éric Zemmour, an essayist with three convictions for hate speech, was hired by CNews in 2019
  • Zemmour has been accused in recent weeks by several women of sexual assault

LONDON: CNews, a free channel that has been dubbed “France’s Fox News,” pulled ahead as the most-watched 24-hour news broadcast in France for the first time on Monday, led by anti-Islam pundit Éric Zemmour.

Zemmour, an essayist with three convictions for hate speech, was hired by CNews in 2019, when the news channel switched its format to feature evenings dominated by conservative opinion and verbal clashes.  

On his show, Zemmour blamed Islam for “driving France toward disaster” and accused thousands of unaccompanied minors who have migrated to France in recent years as being “thieves, murderers and rapists” who should be expelled.

The 62-year-old’s anti-Islam and anti-immigration rhetoric was condemned by the state broadcasting authority but was conversely met with cheers from millions watching his evening show. 

As a result, he emerged as a possible leader for the “patriotic” right as an alternative to Marine Le Pen, the right-wing candidate. Thirteen percent of voters would reportedly back a Zemmour candidacy in the 2022 presidential election.

Zemmour has been accused in recent weeks by several women, including journalists and a town councilor, of sexually assaulting them over the past 15 years. CNews said that it is standing behind its star broadcaster and that he would remain on the air.


Iranian state TV shows video of missile blowing up US Capitol building

The country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reportedly broadcast the video on Sunday. (Screenshot)
The country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reportedly broadcast the video on Sunday. (Screenshot)
Updated 06 May 2021

Iranian state TV shows video of missile blowing up US Capitol building

The country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reportedly broadcast the video on Sunday. (Screenshot)
  • The country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reportedly broadcast the video on Sunday
  • The 11-second clip featured armed IRGC forces marching in formation, a missile being launched at an undisclosed location, followed by scenes of the US Capitol imploding in flames

LONDON: Iranian state TV has aired a propaganda video showing a missile blowing up the US Capitol building.

The country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reportedly broadcast the video on Sunday just before Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was due to give a televised speech.

The 11-second clip featured armed IRGC forces marching in formation, a missile being launched at an undisclosed location, followed by scenes of the US Capitol imploding in flames. The video then showed Iranian clerics walking toward Jerusalem.

According to Kasra Aarabi, an analyst at the Tony Blair Institute, the music playing in the background of the video is a Shia Islamist song, with lyrics describing the US Capitol as a “palace of oppression” that was “destroyed by the Alavi (Imam Ali’s) IRGC, and the good news of the liberation of Quds (Jerusalem) arrives from Iran.”

The screening coincided with nuclear talks currently taking place between Iran and the US in Vienna. Reports suggested that at the time of the video broadcast, the political foes were edging closer to an agreement on resuming the abandoned 2015 nuclear deal.