Houthis torturing four abducted journalists, say families

The four Yemeni journalists abducted and imprisoned by the Houthi militia are shown in this combination images posted on Twitter on February 23 by Moammar Al-Eryani, Yemen's minister of Information, culture and tourism.
The four Yemeni journalists abducted and imprisoned by the Houthi militia are shown in this combination images posted on Twitter on February 23 by Moammar Al-Eryani, Yemen's minister of Information, culture and tourism.
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Updated 10 September 2021

Houthis torturing four abducted journalists, say families

Houthis torturing four abducted journalists, say families
  • Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, Abdul Khaleq Amran, Harith Hamid, and Akram Al-Walidi were among a group of 10 journalists abducted in 2015
  • Families learned from the former abductee that the Iran-backed rebels have intensified their mistreatment of the journalists over the past two months

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: The Iran-backed Houthis tortured abducted Yemeni journalists, threw them into solitary confinement, denied them life-saving medical treatment, and banned them from contacting their families for the past two months, families said on Thursday.

Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, Abdul Khaleq Amran, Harith Hamid, and Akram Al-Walidi were among a group of 10 journalists abducted by the Houthis during a raid in the capital Sanaa in 2015.

The journalists were sentenced to death for their alleged collaboration with the Arab coalition and the internationally recognized government.

Six journalists were released during the latest major successful prisoner swap between the Houthis and the Yemeni government last year.

During the past few months, relatives told Arab News the Houthis’ treatment of the remaining journalists has worsened.

Abdullah Al-Mansouri said his brother —  journalist Tawfiq Al-Mansouri — has not contacted the family for the past two months and his captors refused to allow the family to give him medicine and money. 

“He has not contacted us since before Eid (July 20),” Abdullah Al-Mansouri said.

The families later learned from a former abductee that the Houthis have been brutally mistreated their siblings for the past two months.

“They imprisoned, tortured, and put them in solitary confinement. They took away their clothes and all their belongings and deprived them of everything,” said Al-Mansouri, who added that the family had no clue as to why the Houthis are torturing the journalists.

“The Houthis should be asked why they decided to resume abusing the journalists.”

The six freed journalists previously reported being subjected to the same level of torture by the Houthi captors inside different prisons in Sanaa. They urged the international community to pressure the Iran-backed rebels to release the four journalists who face the death penalty.

Relatives said Abu Shehab Al-Murtada, a brother of Abdulkader Al-Murtada, who is the head of the Houthi prisoner affairs committee, personally tortured the journalists or incited other captors to mistreat them.

Abdullah Al-Mansouri said his brother is suffering from heart problems, diabetes, kidney problems, and recent backbone pains due to torture.

“We bribe the Houthis to allow us to send him an injection every 20 days,” he said. “We do not know if he received them or not.”

The Houthis alleged prosecution and mistreatment of the journalists have sparked local and international outrage as rights groups called upon the militia to release them and stop harassing critics.

Also in Sanaa, relatives of Younis Abdul Sallam, a young Yemeni journalist who was abducted by the Houthis last month, said they have not been allowed to visit him or have been given an explanation as to why he was abducted.

“The Houthis obstinately refuse to allow us to visit him,” a relative told Arab News on condition of anonymity for fear of Houthi reprisal.

Meanwhile, Yemen's Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani condemned the Houthi abduction of singer Youssef Al-Badji in Sanaa and the militia’s escalating crackdown on music.

“The Iran-backed Houthi militia abducted singer Youssef Al-Badji from his house in Sanaa in a systematic campaign to target art, pursue and attack artists, push dozens of them to flee outside the country, and prevent singing at weddings and public events and classify it as a taboo,” the minister said in a tweet.


Meta pauses new users from joining analytics tool CrowdTangle

Meta pauses new users from joining analytics tool CrowdTangle
Updated 29 January 2022

Meta pauses new users from joining analytics tool CrowdTangle

Meta pauses new users from joining analytics tool CrowdTangle
  • The tool is used by organizations and individuals to follow, analyze and report on public content available on Facebook, Instagram and Reddit

Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms Inc. has paused new users from joining its social media tracking tool CrowdTangle due to staffing constraints.
Meta, which disbanded the CrowdTangle team last year, has been under pressure to provide greater transparency into its platforms.
CrowdTangle founder and CEO Brandon Silverman left Facebook last year.
The tool is used by organizations and individuals to follow, analyze and report on public content available on Facebook, Instagram and Reddit.
CrowdTangle was recently moved to a new data and transparency team, which is working through staffing transitions and considerations, a Meta spokesperson said.
“We are pausing the ability for people to join CrowdTangle while we work through some staffing constraints,” the spokesperson added.
New users can still get added to existing company accounts on the tracking tool, the spokesperson said. 

 

 


Palestine’s high society stirs controversy on social media

The elites of Palestine and stylish clothes and lavish cars paint an almost unrecognizable image of a country scarred by years of conflict. (Screenshots)
The elites of Palestine and stylish clothes and lavish cars paint an almost unrecognizable image of a country scarred by years of conflict. (Screenshots)
Updated 28 January 2022

Palestine’s high society stirs controversy on social media

The elites of Palestine and stylish clothes and lavish cars paint an almost unrecognizable image of a country scarred by years of conflict. (Screenshots)

LONDON: A quick search of Palestine on Google displays headlines and images of protests, war, human rights violations and the latest Israeli attacks against Palestinians. A similar search on social media tells a different tale.

Away from the destruction, forced displacement and politics lies a particular segment of society: The elites of Palestine. Their stylish clothes and lavish cars paint an almost unrecognizable image of a country scarred by years of conflict.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Aya Eid (@ayaeid8)

Such images draw a negative reaction from many social media users, who say that this is the side of Palestine the media does not want to portray. Some comments were accompanied by the hashtag Palestine is not my cause or #فلسيطن_ليست_قضيتي

The tweet reads: “Honestly I was expecting to see wars, famine and persecution but I saw these beautiful pictures, good cars, stylish clothes and safe cities. I am happy for you Palestine #فلسيطن_ليست_قضيتي” 

Another response to the tweet said: “The Palestinian is currently living a better life than the Iraq, Syrian or Lebanese whose countries were invaded under the pretext of liberating Quds, or the Quds road.”

Many disagreed, jumping to Palestine’s defence and reminding everyone that not too long ago Palestine was being bombed and raided by the Israeli forces.

A similar phenomenon is mirrored by many Lebanese influencers whose Instagram accounts showcase luxury, beauty, shopping and travel, all the while the country is battling its worst economic and political crises.

It is not uncommon for these Lebanese elites to share social media posts showing themselves wearing expensive clothes, partying away in luxurious venues and tucking into sumptuous meals. Looking at their posts, one can almost forget that they are in Lebanon — the same Lebanon that has been going through successive crises for the past two years.

We cannot ignore the presence of socialites in society, especially if their pictures are splattered all over social media, but we can wonder which reality their pictures depict.


INTERVIEW: ‘Our focus will always be on credible, authentic and factual reporting’

INTERVIEW: ‘Our focus will always be on credible, authentic and factual reporting’
Updated 28 January 2022

INTERVIEW: ‘Our focus will always be on credible, authentic and factual reporting’

INTERVIEW: ‘Our focus will always be on credible, authentic and factual reporting’
  • Caroline Faraj, vice-president of Arabic services at CNN, talks to Arab News about the network’s success and its evolution over the last 20 years

DUBAI: Social media is by far the most popular source of news for young Arabs with 61 percent getting their news from the medium in 2021, according to the annual Arab Youth Survey. In comparison, 43 percent got their news from TV and 9 percent from newspapers.

The quick, bite-sized, always-on nature of social media channels has challenged many traditional media brands.

One such brand is CNN. Its Arabic edition, CNN Arabic, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, ranked as the number one news provider against competitors such as Sky News, Al Arabiya and BBC Arabic, according to an independent study of news consumers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and the US.

Speaking to Arab News, Caroline Faraj, vice-president of Arabic services at CNN, reflected on the network’s decision to branch into Arabic 20 years ago. “Back in 2002, CNN already had networks in English and Spanish, and the addition of CNN Arabic gave us the ability to reach, engage, better represent and understand those of us who speak one of the world’s most popular languages.”

“Since then, we have realized that vision by telling stories for Arab audiences all over the world in myriad ways via mobile-first video, interactive content, written news and more,” she said. 

The digital transformation of CNN has been at the forefront of its success. “As a digital news service from the very outset, it has always been in our DNA to evolve, experiment and be relevant as people’s news habits continue to change.”

For example, when CNN first launched, there were no smartphones. Today, however, 90 percent of the network’s traffic comes via mobiles because “long ago we started tailoring our content to engage with people on the devices they carry around with them 24/7,” she said.

Despite social media being the most popular news source, it is the least trusted. Only 26 percent of young Arabs consider it “very trustworthy” as a news source, according to the Arab Youth Survey. More than 50 percent of them don’t have much trust in any channel — be it TV and newspapers, or online portals and social media.

Yet, CNN Arabic emerged as highly trusted, scoring more than three times the average trust rating compared to other brands in the industry.

“This trust factor is crucial,” said Faraj, “especially at a time when research such as the Arab Youth Survey shows high levels of distrust in news, particularly on social media.

“Looking further ahead, the way that news is consumed will undoubtedly change, just as it has changed in the last 20 years.”

CNN Arabic witnessed its biggest year in 2021, with daily audience numbers growing by more than 150 percent in the past six years, according to Adobe Analytics.

Although “we are in a strong position right now due to our audience growth across various digital platforms,” said Faraj, “the platforms that people use for news will certainly evolve in line with new technology and ways of communicating.”

“Our focus will always be on credible, authentic and factual reporting. Our commitment to the Arabic-speaking world is that we will continue to innovate in the way that we provide people with news and information wherever they need it.”


Al Arabiya crew caught in a Daesh ambush in Al-Hasakah

Al Arabiya crew caught in a Daesh ambush in Al-Hasakah
Updated 27 January 2022

Al Arabiya crew caught in a Daesh ambush in Al-Hasakah

Al Arabiya crew caught in a Daesh ambush in Al-Hasakah
  • “We have been caught in crossfire, Al Arabiya crew has been caught in crossfire after Daesh fighters moved in the vicinity of the prison.”

LONDON: The dramatic moment when an Al Arabiya TV crew was caught in a Daesh ambush on Thursday in the northwestern Syrian city of Al-Hasakah was captured live on air.

The channel broadcast the video of Daesh fighters firing on the news team, Kurdish, and US forces with footage showing members of the film crew taking refuge behind a car.

The news presenter is heard saying, “we have been caught in crossfire, Al Arabiya crew has been caught in crossfire after Daesh fighters moved in the vicinity of the prison.”

The incident came after Kurdish forces, backed by US-led anti-Daesh coalition forces, recaptured Ghwayran prison in Al-Hasakah after six days of fighting sparked by a Daesh attempt to free jailed fighters.

Al Arabiya footage shows Kurdish forces engage in a fierce gun battle with Daesh fighters in Al-Hasakah. (Al Arabiya)

The jail held about 3,500 Daesh prisoners when the initial attack was launched on Jan. 20 using explosive-laden vehicles driven by suicide bombers.

The prison break bid and the fighting that ensued immediately after resulted in the death of more than 200 people, including 124 Daesh militants, 50 Kurdish fighters, and seven civilians. More casualties were expected to be found as Kurdish forces gained access to all parts of the jail.

The heavy fighting saw Daesh fighters seize control of a north wing in the prison, using child inmates as human shields. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 850 children and minors were caught in crossfire when Kurdish forces stormed the jail.

Ghwayran prison is one of the largest facilities where the Kurdish administration holds Daesh detainees.


Bloomberg announces 2022 Gender-Equality Index, names WPP for 4th consecutive year

Bloomberg announces 2022 Gender-Equality Index, names WPP for 4th consecutive year
Updated 27 January 2022

Bloomberg announces 2022 Gender-Equality Index, names WPP for 4th consecutive year

Bloomberg announces 2022 Gender-Equality Index, names WPP for 4th consecutive year
  • GEI tracks the performance of public companies committed to advancing gender equality in the workplace

DUBAI: Multinational advertising and communication group WPP has been named in the 2022 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) for the fourth consecutive year.

WPP CEO Mark Read said that the company is a “people business” and its “client work directly benefits from having diversity in our teams.”

He added: “We’re proud of our recognition in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index, which reflects our continued investment in our people and culture, and our progress in driving greater gender balance throughout the company.”

Peter T. Grauer, chairman of Bloomberg, said: “We are proud to recognize WPP and the other 417 companies included in the 2022 GEI for their commitment to transparency and setting a new standard in gender-related data reporting.”

The Index tracks the performance of public companies committed to advancing gender equality in the workplace, and helps bring transparency to gender-related practices and policies at publicly-listed companies around the world, increasing the environmental, social, governance (ESG) data available to investors.

This year, Bloomberg lost a total of 418 companies representing a combined market capitalization of $16 trillion from across 45 territories.

A record number of companies disclosed their data for this year’s GEI by using the GEI Framework, marking a 20 percent increase year-over-year.

The GEI Framework scores companies across five pillars: Female leadership and talent pipeline, equal pay and gender pay parity, inclusive culture, anti-sexual harassment policies, and pro-women brand. Bloomberg also requests information from other expanded areas to support the broader goal of providing more robust ESG data to investors.

“Even though the threshold for inclusion in the GEI has risen, the member list continues to grow. This is a testament that more companies are working to improve upon their gender-related metrics, fostering more opportunity for diverse talent to succeed in their organizations,” said Grauer.