Senior AJ+ figure compares French bill to China’s handling of Uyghur Muslims

Senior AJ+ figure compares French bill to China’s handling of Uyghur Muslims
AJ+ Head of Audience Development and Engagement Haris Alisic. (@HarisAlisic)
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Updated 25 July 2021

Senior AJ+ figure compares French bill to China’s handling of Uyghur Muslims

Senior AJ+ figure compares French bill to China’s handling of Uyghur Muslims
  • Some have criticized the AJ+ senior staffer’s tweet
  • In 2019, AJ+ Arabic drew widespread condemnation over a video that was branded “Holocaust denial”

LONDON: Reputable news groups around the world — from broadcast to print — follow a code of online conduct handbook that ensures unbiased and objective reporting from journalists and representatives of these entities.

AJ+ Head of Audience Development and Engagement Haris Alisic, however, took to social media to tweet criticism of France’s newly passed anti-separatism bill by suggesting that the Republic will begin creating Muslim concentration camps.

“Next step in #France is putting Muslims in concentration camps — like they did to Jews in World War Two or like #China does do Uyghurs,” Alisic tweeted on Saturday while quoting a thread from French-Egyptian author Marwan Muhammad on the bill.

Alisic also previously worked with Al Jazeera launching AJ+ and its Arabic and French subsidiaries, as well as Al Jazeera America, Al Jazeera Turk and Al Jazeera Balkans.

Indeed, the senior AJ+ employee’s tweets come at a politically sensitive time in France with the rise of Islamophobic rhetoric following a spate of attacks and President Emmanuel Macron’s comments on the religion.

Some have criticized the AJ+ senior staffer’s tweet, especially given his position, with Dubai-based Frenchwoman Nadine Laubacher saying “the nonsense someone high up at AJ+ is capable of writing is quite striking.

“I think some of the anti-Muslim rhetoric in France is merely an electoral strategy to siphon votes that were going to go to Marine. Things will go back to normal after next presidential election.”

It is not the first time Al Jazeera or AJ+ finds itself in hot water over alleged bias — be it through staffers’ online comments or through its own reporting.

In 2019, AJ+ Arabic drew widespread condemnation over a video that was branded “Holocaust denial” for claiming the Jews exaggerated the scale of the genocide to help establish Israel.

The Qatar-owned network was forced to delete the video, suspending two of its journalists over its broadcast.

A year later, Al Jazeera News conducted an interview with terrorist-designated group Hamas’ leader Ismail Haniyeh, as well as published a podcast glorifying killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, both of which have stirred the ongoing debate surrounding the network’s alleged promotion of terrorism.

The network’s Arabic news site also carried headlines such as “Martyr shot by Occupation forces in the West Bank for being accused of trying to run over soldiers,” to report on a Palestinian man who was shot while attempting to ram into Israeli soldiers with his car — which in other contexts would be described as an attacker or a terrorist.