Yemeni journalists call for release of 4 sentenced to death by Houthis

Yemeni journalists call for release of 4 sentenced to death by Houthis
The Houthis are thought to deliberately imprison people in military areas likely to be targeted by coalition airstrikes. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 11 April 2021

Yemeni journalists call for release of 4 sentenced to death by Houthis

Yemeni journalists call for release of 4 sentenced to death by Houthis
  • 10 detained in 2015 say they were tortured, convicted of ‘collaborating with the enemy’
  • Amnesty International: Trial based on ‘trumped up charges’

LONDON: Four Yemeni journalists formerly imprisoned and tortured by the Houthi militia have called for the release of four of their colleagues currently facing the death penalty.

They were among 10 journalists arrested in the capital Sanaa in 2015, and say they were subjected to torture, including being starved and placed in solitary confinement, before being put on trial in 2020.

All 10, having been detained shortly after the intervention of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, were convicted of “collaborating with the enemy” and “spreading false news and rumors,” but six were released and left the country.

Now living in Cairo, Abdel-Khaleq Amran, Akram Al-Walidi, Hareth Hamid and Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, alongside family members of the four facing execution, say not enough is being done to secure their colleagues’ freedom.

“We would need to write books to (fully) describe what we went through and suffered in these detention facilities. Only God knows the hardships and suffering of our families in our absence,” they said in a statement.

“And there are still four journalists, who were sentenced to death inside these dark prisons, waiting for fate to intervene to save their lives and bring them back to their children.”

Amnesty International, which said the trial was based on “trumped up charges,” added that none of the detained had been permitted a lawyer or family members to be present, and had seen appeals rejected.

The mother of one detainee told The Observer: “My son is just a civilian, he’s not a soldier, he didn’t fight anyone, he wasn’t involved in politics. He didn’t deserve something like this for seven years.”

She added: “We went everywhere, we talked to everyone but no one really helped us. I’m crying everyday, and I can’t sleep.”

Al-Mansouri’s brother Abdullah said: “We still don’t know why some of the journalists were released and others condemned to death. They were targeted to make an example for others.”

Adding that his brother had been “a healthy young man when he was first detained,” he said the Houthis had denied him medical treatment in captivity, leading to him developing diabetes and kidney issues.

Buthaina Faroq, a Yemeni activist who was forced to flee the country, said the journalists still in captivity are likely being used as leverage.

“These four colleagues are being used by the Houthis as pawns, to blackmail both the international community and the Yemeni government,” she added.

“Every single day is important for them stuck in prison. The Houthis are unpredictable, they could decide to keep them or execute them at any moment.”

According to Reporters Without Borders, the four detained journalists are among at least 20 members of the media being held by the Houthis or by Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
Throughout the conflict, the Houthis have been known to target journalists. Their leader Abdul-Malik Badreddin Al-Houthi is known to have called journalists “more dangerous than those fighting on the front lines.”

As well as torture, the Houthis are thought to deliberately imprison people in military areas likely to be targeted by coalition airstrikes.


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.