‘Selective and discriminatory:’ British press accused of ignoring plight of Yemen’s African migrants

‘Selective and discriminatory:’ British press accused of ignoring plight of Yemen’s African migrants
1 / 8
‘Selective and discriminatory:’ British press accused of ignoring plight of Yemen’s African migrants
2 / 8
‘Selective and discriminatory:’ British press accused of ignoring plight of Yemen’s African migrants
3 / 8
Representatives of African communities in Yemen gather to speak during a rally in Sanaa on March 13, 2021 following the previous weekend's fire in a holding facility. (AFP file photo)
‘Selective and discriminatory:’ British press accused of ignoring plight of Yemen’s African migrants
4 / 8
Analysts have shown discrepancies between Western responses to violence at home (such as the BLM movement) and silence on crimes in Yemen.
‘Selective and discriminatory:’ British press accused of ignoring plight of Yemen’s African migrants
5 / 8
Representatives of African communities in Yemen gather to speak during a rally in Sanaa on March 13, 2021 following the previous weekend's fire in a holding facility. (AFP file photo)
‘Selective and discriminatory:’ British press accused of ignoring plight of Yemen’s African migrants
6 / 8
Analysts have shown discrepancies between Western responses to violence at home (such as the BLM movement) and silence on crimes in Yemen.
‘Selective and discriminatory:’ British press accused of ignoring plight of Yemen’s African migrants
7 / 8
Analysts have shown discrepancies between Western responses to violence at home (such as the BLM movement) and silence on crimes in Yemen.
‘Selective and discriminatory:’ British press accused of ignoring plight of Yemen’s African migrants
8 / 8
Analysts have shown discrepancies between Western responses to violence at home (such as the BLM movement) and silence on crimes in Yemen. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 23 March 2021

‘Selective and discriminatory:’ British press accused of ignoring plight of Yemen’s African migrants

‘Selective and discriminatory:’ British press accused of ignoring plight of Yemen’s African migrants
  • UK’s Guardian, Times, Independent and Telegraph newspapers provided scant coverage of deadly fire in Houthi camp; BLM UK declined to comment
  • Yemen’s Information Minister Moammar Al-Eryani said the attention deficit was evidence of a lack of awareness of the crimes of the Houthis

LONDON: A quick skim through UK press headlines of the past week shows extensive coverage of such topics as the royal family’s fumbled response to Meghan Markle’s tell-all Oprah interview and Prince Phillip’s discharge from hospital.

Competition for clicks and eyeballs was further provided by Prince Harry’s acceptance of damages from the Mail on Sunday for a report claiming he had turned his back on the Royal Marines after stepping down as a senior royal.

What is conspicuous by its absence from UK news headlines is proportional coverage of a colossal human tragedy in the Middle East: The deaths of scores of African migrants in a blaze in Yemen’s capital Sanaa on March 7.

The fire at the Houthi-run migrant detention center, whose conditions have been compared to a Nazi concentration camp, left many injured besides the dead.




Analysts have shown discrepancies between Western responses to violence at home (such as the BLM movement) and silence on Houthi crimes in Yemen. (Social Media photo)

The official death toll from the blaze is 43, all migrants from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan. However, the true number of deaths is thought to be far higher, possibly in the hundreds.

The testimonies of survivors have forced international human rights organizations and diplomats to hold the Iran-backed militia responsible for the deaths.

Going by the logic of the same UK media outlets’ saturation coverage of last year’s Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests and their professed concern for “victims of war in Yemen,” the deaths of so many hapless African migrants should have merited an avalanche of attention. Yet it did not.




People take part in the inaugural Million People March march against racism in London on August 30, 2020.  (AFP file photo)

Even the outrage expressed by senior UN and Human Rights Watch (HRW) officials failed to make a blip on British journalists’ radars, raising questions of double standards.

For one, is Yemen a story worthy of coverage only when the Saudi-led coalition commits a mistake? For another, do some black lives matter more than others in the eyes of the UK media?

This was, after all, a rare case in a Houthi-controlled part of Yemen of the culprits hiding in plain sight.

The Houthis did not initially provide a cause for the fire, mention a protest or give a final casualty toll. But survivors and local rights campaigners said the blaze erupted when guards fired tear gas into a crowded warehouse, trying to end a protest against alleged abuses and ill-treatment at the facility.

“Like all territory controlled by extremist groups, reporting from Houthi-controlled areas obviously presents extreme risks for Western journalists,” William Neal, a London-based strategic communications consultant, told Arab News.

“But in this specific case, both HRW and the UN had shared evidence of this shocking attack and called for action.”

The BBC and The Independent did publish a story each on the fire the day after it occurred, with the former doing a follow-up story based on the HRW report.

By contrast, The Guardian, a left-leaning UK daily that prides itself on its human rights focus, paid attention to the outrage only when the UN called for the investigation nearly a week later. On Saturday, its website had an AP story on the Houthis’ admission that teargas canisters fired by the guards caused the fire.

Approached by Arab News for an explanation for the newspaper’s scant coverage of the migrants’ deaths, a Guardian News & Media spokesperson said: “The article in question prominently references both the UN call for an inquiry and HRW’s comments.”

The Guardian refused to elaborate on the grounds for not reporting the news of the fire before the UN’s call for an inquiry.

It also would not comment on whether the incident warranted the same in-depth coverage as any comparable atrocity elsewhere in the world.

Incidentally, The Times carried its first report on the fire more than 10 days after it occurred, that too only after Arab News pointed out the absence of stories on its website on the topic (the email was sent on March 17; coverage began on March 18).

Out of four media outlets — The Times, BBC, Independent and Telegraph — none responded to multiple requests for comment from Arab News on the reasons behind their meager attention to the story.

How many column inches would have been devoted by the same media outlets to the story had there been just a hint of the Saudi-led coalition’s involvement is anybody’s guess.

Even if the coverage had been proportional to the crime, what would have likely gone unmentioned is that the Houthis overthrew the internationally recognized government of Yemen in 2015 and launched an endless war on civilians in both Yemen and Saudi Arabia; or that the Houthis have long blocked international aid and pushed 24 million Yemenis into dependence on humanitarian assistance.

“Media reporting hasn’t held the Houthis accountable for their actions, and this has meant Western audiences have all too often been served up a one-sided account of a complex conflict,” said Neal.

“It’s hard for most to discern from the coverage that the Houthis are a terrorist group that’s a major threat to the stability of the entire region, and this needs to change.”

Moammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s minister of information, culture and tourism, echoed the same concerns in exclusive comments to Arab News.

“The campaign being waged by the Houthis since their 2014 coup has seen a large number of war crimes by the militia, which unfortunately haven’t received sufficient coverage, even though they don’t differ at all from the terrorist acts of Al-Qaeda and Daesh,” he said.




Moammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s minister of information, culture and tourism. (Social Media photo)

“Western media outlets have failed to expose the crimes of the Houthis, often regarding them as victims, whereas in truth they’re the perpetrators. The woeful coverage by British newspapers of the migrant deaths in the detention center in Sanaa is evidence of their lack of awareness of the crimes of the Houthis over the past several years,” he added.

“We call on Western and Arab media outlets to deal with all Yemeni issues with the same attention, and shed light on all facts and crimes without discrimination.”

Many analysts are also not surprised by the marked contrast between how the mainstream media, human rights organizations and popular social movements respond to BLM-backed causes, and to injustices done to black Africans far away from the media’s gaze.

It has been claimed that the deaths in recent years of a number of unarmed African-American men — George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner, to name just six — at the hands of white police officers have galvanized a transatlantic social movement against prejudice and discrimination based on race.

But the British press’ apathy to the plight of African migrants in Yemen has provided ample proof that calling attention to injustices against black Africans does not carry quite the cachet of the advocacy of the rights of African Americans and black Britons.

Asked by Arab News for its views, a spokesperson for the BLM’s UK office said: “Thank you for the invite, but we will decline the opportunity.”

________________

• Tarek Ali Ahmad is the head of Arab News Research & Studies. Twitter: @Tarek_AliAhmad

Desert Storm: 30 years on
The end of the Gulf War on Feb. 28, 1991 saw the eviction of Iraq from Kuwait but paved the way for decades of conflict

Enter


keywords

Samsung enters Europe with Vodafone 5G network deal in Britain

Samsung enters Europe with Vodafone 5G network deal in Britain
Updated 14 June 2021

Samsung enters Europe with Vodafone 5G network deal in Britain

Samsung enters Europe with Vodafone 5G network deal in Britain
  • British Telecom provider Vodafone chooses Samsung Electronics as 5G supplier in Britain.
  • Samsung is banking on Europe to maintain growth in its network equipment business, revealed a senior executive.
STOCKHOLM/SEOUL: British telecoms group Vodafone has chosen Samsung Electronics to supply its 5G network equipment in Britain, the pair said on Monday, a breakthrough for the South Korean company in Europe’s telecoms gear market.

European mobile operators are increasingly considering Samsung to replace China’s Huawei as a supplier, with executives from Spain’s Telefonica and France’s Orange previously telling Reuters they had held talks with the firm.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Britain has already ordered all Huawei equipment to be removed from its 5G network by the end of 2027, echoing a US campaign against Huawei, citing national security risks.

Samsung is banking on Europe to maintain growth in its network equipment business, a senior executive told Reuters earlier this month, as 5G rollouts widen.

“It still has a long way to go to catch Ericsson and Nokia, but Samsung has a well-rounded 5G RAN portfolio across mobile broadband, fixed wireless access and private 5G networks, so it should be seen as a genuine contender,” said CCS Insight analyst Richard Webb.

The European telecoms equipment market is dominated by Nokia , Ericsson and Huawei, but Samsung has entered the picture after it unexpectedly landed a $6 billion deal with US giant Verizon in September.

Several telecom operators are also warming to a new approach to wireless network architecture called Open RAN, which allows mobile operators to mix and match equipment from various suppliers, potentially improving flexibility and reducing costs.

While companies such as Japan’s Rakuten and Dish Network have been at the forefront of using open networks, older telecom firms like Telefonica and Vodafone are now also emerging as proponents of the new technology.

Ardern says NZ mosque attack film should focus on Muslim community not her

New Zealand Muslim community advocate Guled Mire said he thought the film was “distasteful.” (File/AFP)
New Zealand Muslim community advocate Guled Mire said he thought the film was “distasteful.” (File/AFP)
Updated 14 June 2021

Ardern says NZ mosque attack film should focus on Muslim community not her

New Zealand Muslim community advocate Guled Mire said he thought the film was “distasteful.” (File/AFP)
  • Any film about the Christchurch mosque attacks should focus on New Zealand's Muslim community, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
  • The film, titled They Are Us, faced heavy backlash for not focusing on the victims of the attack.

WELLINGTON: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that New Zealand’s Muslim community should be the focus of any film about the Christchurch mosque attacks after some people raised objections to a movie focussing on her response to the bloodshed.

A film called “They Are Us” is being planned about the attacks on two mosques by a white supremacist gunman on March 15, 2019, in which 51 people were killed, the Hollywood Reporter said last week.

The magazine described the film as an “inspirational story” about Ardern’s response to the violence.

Ardern’s office said last week she and the government had no involvement with the film. Asked about it at a news conference, she said the Muslim community should be at the center of any film about the shootings, not her.

“This is very raw event for New Zealand and even more so for the community that experienced it,” Ardern said.

“I agree that there are stories that at some point should be told from March 15. But they are the stories from our Muslim community so they need to be at the center of that. I don’t consider mine to be one of the stories that needs to be told,” she said.

She said, however, it was not for her to say whether a project should go ahead or not.

The film’s title is drawn from Ardern’s words on the day of the shootings. The 40-year-old leader’s compassionate response united her shocked country and was praised globally.

New Zealander Andrew Niccol would write and direct the film, the Hollywood Reporter said. It quoted him as saying it was not so much about the attacks but Ardern’s handling of it.

But some Muslims questioned the plan to make a film when the pain of victims’ families, friends and the wider community was still so raw. They also questioned the plan to focus the film on the prime minister and not the victims.

Muslim community advocate Guled Mire told the 1 NEWS network that he thought the film was “distasteful.”

“It completely feeds into this white savior mentality,” he said.

Armed with high-capacity semi-automatic weapons, Australian Brenton Tarrant killed the 51 people and injured dozens when he opened fire in the two mosques during Friday prayers in Christchurch.

Tarrant was last year sentenced to life in prison without parole.


Reuters, New York Times win Pulitzers for coverage of racial injustice, COVID-19

The Pulitzer Prizes are the most prestigious awards in American journalism and have been handed out since 1917. (File/The New York Times)
The Pulitzer Prizes are the most prestigious awards in American journalism and have been handed out since 1917. (File/The New York Times)
Updated 14 June 2021

Reuters, New York Times win Pulitzers for coverage of racial injustice, COVID-19

The Pulitzer Prizes are the most prestigious awards in American journalism and have been handed out since 1917. (File/The New York Times)
  • Reuters wins Pulitzer Prize for journalism for covering racial inequalities in US policing, while the NYT wins a prize for covering COVID-19.
  • Many of the 2021 Pulitzer Prizes went for coverage of policing and the global protest movement that erupted after George Floyd’s murder.

NEW YORK: Reuters and the Minneapolis Star Tribune each won a Pulitzer Prize on Friday for journalism about racial inequities in US policing, while the New York Times and the Atlantic were honored for chronicling the COVID-19 pandemic, the two topics that dominated last year’s headlines.

The Star Tribune won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting for what the board called its “urgent, authoritative and nuanced” coverage of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police last May, while Reuters and the Atlantic shared the award for explanatory reporting.

The Pulitzer Prizes are the most prestigious awards in American journalism and have been handed out since 1917, when newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer established them in a bequest to New York’s Columbia University in his will.

In 2020, “the nation’s news organizations faced the complexity of sequentially covering a global pandemic, a racial reckoning and a bitterly contested presidential election,” Mindy Marques, co-chair of the Pulitzer Board, said at the announcement ceremony, which was broadcast online.

The board cited Reuters reporters Andrew Chung, Lawrence Hurley, Andrea Januta, Jaimi Dowdell and Jackie Botts for the “pioneering data analysis” of their ‘Shielded’ series, which showed how an obscure legal doctrine of ‘qualified immunity’ shielded police who use excessive force from prosecution.

Reuters Editor-in-Chief Alessandra Galloni said in a statement that the series shaped the debate over how to reform American policing.

“In a year of tumultuous protest over police killings of Black Americans, ‘Shielded’ was a work of tremendous moral force about the intractable problem facing the world’s most powerful democracy, the legacy of racial injustice,” her statement said.

The Pulitzer Prize for Reuters, a unit of Thomson Reuters , was the newsroom’s ninth since 2008, and sixth in the last four years.

The Reuters team shared the explanatory reporting award with The Atlantic’s Ed Yong, who was praised by the board for “a series of lucid, definitive pieces on the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Teenager who recorded the murder of George Floyd in a clear and unrelenting single shot with her cellphone was recognized on Friday by the arbiters of the highest honors in US journalism.
The Pulitzer Board awarded Darnella Frazier a special citation for a video she said has haunted her ever since, showing Floyd's death beneath the knee of Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis policeman. Chauvin was convicted of murdering Floyd in a trial during which Frazier's video was played repeatedly.

PULITZERS HONOR DARNELLA FRAZIER FOR CELLPHONE VIDEO OF GEORGE FLOYD MURDER

The citation at the 2021 Pulitzer Prize ceremony is a rare instance of the board recognizing the journalistic achievement of someone with no professional experience in the field, a striking distinction in the genre sometimes known as citizen journalism.


Frazier, 18, was recognized for recording a “transformative video that jolted viewers and spurred protests against police brutality around the world, Mindy Marques,” co-chair of the Pulitzer Board, said at Friday's online announcement ceremony.


Frazier's video shows Chauvin kneeling on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man in handcuffs, for about 9 minutes while arresting him on suspicion of using a fake $20 bill on May 25, 2020. Floyd begs for his life before dying on the Minneapolis road.


Frazier has rarely discussed the video she made, but she testified for the prosecution at Chauvin's murder trial this year, where members of Floyd's family were sometimes seen averting their gaze each time her video was replayed.


She told jurors that she was taking her nine-year-old cousin to buy snacks when she saw “a man terrified, scared, begging for his life,” and so pulled out her cellphone and hit record. She uploaded the video to Facebook later that night, where it would be watched by millions of people around the world.

A SINGLE CASE

Reuters’ series of policing stories were sparked by a single case — and took a lengthy, complex data analysis to complete.

In April 2017, the US Supreme Court declined to revive an unarmed suspect’s lawsuit accusing a Houston officer of unconstitutional excessive force for shooting him in the back. Reuters Supreme Court reporters Chung and Hurley teamed up with data reporters Januta, Dowdell and Botts. They analyzed hundreds of cases and found that since 2005, the courts have shown an increasing tendency to grant immunity in excessive force cases. They then chronicled in detail the cases of a range of police-violence victims who had been denied justice even after courts found that officers had acted too violently.

The first Reuters story was published just a few weeks before the murder of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died in handcuffs as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck. The reporting had broad impact on the national conversation about the problems of US policing.
“The data that we came up with was cited in almost every major news organization in the immediate aftermath of the George Floyd killing,” said Hurley, adding it has also been cited in court filings and informally by judges.

SPECIAL CITATION

Many of the 2021 Pulitzer Prizes went for coverage of policing and the global protest movement that erupted after Floyd’s murder: the Associated Press won the breaking news photography award for its images of the protests, while Robert Greene of the Los Angeles Times won for editorial writing for his work on bail reform and prisons.

The board also said it was awarding a “special citation” to Darnella Frazier, the teenaged bystander who recorded video of Floyd’s murder on her cellphone, which it said highlighted “the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.”

The New York Times won the public service journalism honor, often seen as the most coveted of the 22 prizes, for its “prescient and sweeping coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.” The Boston Globe won for investigative reporting for uncovering a systematic failure by state governments to share information about dangerous truck drivers that could have kept them off the road.

Friday’s announcement of the prizes, most worth $15,000 each, had been postponed from April amid the pandemic. The awards luncheon, which normally takes place soon after at Columbia University, has been postponed until autumn.

The Pulitzer Board also recognizes achievements in seven categories in the arts, and awarded its fiction prize to Louise Erdrich for her novel “The Night Watchman” about an effort to displace Native American tribes in the 1950s.


Nigeria’s Twitter ban leaves some businesses in the lurch

Lagos based entreprenuer Ogechi Egemonu opens the Twitter app on a smart phone at her office in Lagos. (Reuters)
Lagos based entreprenuer Ogechi Egemonu opens the Twitter app on a smart phone at her office in Lagos. (Reuters)
Updated 14 June 2021

Nigeria’s Twitter ban leaves some businesses in the lurch

Lagos based entreprenuer Ogechi Egemonu opens the Twitter app on a smart phone at her office in Lagos. (Reuters)
  • Businesses in Nigeria struggle to cope after Twitter ban interrupted their sales.
  • Approximately 39.6 million Nigerians use Twitter with 20 percent of them for business advertisement, polls estimate.

LAGOS: Lagos-based entrepreneur Ogechi Egemonu was selling more than 500,000 naira ($1,219) worth of watches, shoes and handbags on Twitter per week.

Now, with the site suspended by the Nigerian government, Egemonu does not know how she will cope.

“Social media is where I eat,” she told Reuters. “I depend on social media for my livelihood.”

Scores of small and medium-sized businesses across Africa’s most populous nation — and largest economy — are reeling from the indefinite suspension of the social media site.

Nigeria announced the suspension on June 4, days after the platform removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional separatists. Most telecommunications sites have since blocked access.

NOI Polls estimates that 39.6 million Nigerians use Twitter — 20 percent of them for business advertisement and 18 percent to look for employment.

Experts warn its lack of ready availability — it is accessible using Virtual Private Networks that mask location — could ripple across the economy.

“The ban has significant collateral damage,” said Muda Yusuf, director general of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce, who said that a “sizeable number of citizens” use Twitter to make a living.


REVENUE LOSS

Parliament’s minority caucus warned the suspension was costing Nigerians “billions of naira on a daily basis.”

Dumebi Iyeke, a research analyst with the Financial Derivatives Company, said it would hit young Nigerians — among whom there is a 45 percent unemployment rate — the hardest.

“We are looking at a potential loss in their revenue,” Iyeke said, adding that it could further lower living standards amid high inflation.

Information Minister Lai Mohammed last week said that all social media sites must register a local entity and get a license to operate. He cited complaints over lost money as proof that the ban was effective, but said other sites are still available.


Omnicom Media Group MENA promotes Elda Choucair to CEO

Omnicom Media Group MENA promotes Elda Choucair to CEO
Updated 14 June 2021

Omnicom Media Group MENA promotes Elda Choucair to CEO

Omnicom Media Group MENA promotes Elda Choucair to CEO
  • Omnicom Media Group MENA has announced the promotion of Elda Choucair from COO to CEO

Omnicom Media Group MENA has announced the promotion of Elda Choucair from COO to CEO.

Elie Khouri, chairman of the group, served as CEO temporarily but will now concentrate on his role of chairman.

Prior to Khouri, Nadim Samara held the role of CEO for the group and left last year. He is now the COO at MBC Media Solutions (MMS), the in-house commercial and advertising sales unit created by MBC Group last year.

Choucair’s tenure as COO has seen her focus heavily on the group’s response to the impact of the pandemic, further demonstrating her leadership talents.

She will continue to report to Khouri, who founded OMG two decades ago and whose career at Omnicom spans more than 30 years. Choucair will now assume full control of all OMG MENA operations and accelerate their transformation.

“Elda is a true success story in her own right and has never stopped impressing everyone around her. Her vision, coupled with her pragmatism and attention to detail, means that she knows where we need to go and how to get there,” Khouri said.

A 15-year veteran at the group, Choucair has held senior account positions at OMD and led PHD for more than 10 years. Under her leadership, the regional media planning network, PHD, grew sevenfold and became a key player in the region.

She is also an active industry figure, as vice-chair of the Advertising Business Group (ABG), board member of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) GCC, and the International Advertising Association (IAA) UAE Chapter, and a founding board member of the Unstereotype Alliance.

“Navigating complexity and ambiguity certainly makes leadership exciting and rewarding in equal measures,” Choucair said. “Our industry, in the midst of a deep and rapid transformation, provides plenty of both and if we are to make complex simpler and better for our clients, we owe it to them to start with ourselves,” she said.