Controversial columnist Abdel Bari Atwan defies UK government ban, expresses sympathy for Hamas

Atwan, who is originally Palestinian and came to UK on asylum, said he doesn’t care if his sympathy led him to jail and appeared to making hidden threats to the British government. (Screenshot)
Atwan, who is originally Palestinian and came to UK on asylum, said he doesn’t care if his sympathy led him to jail and appeared to making hidden threats to the British government. (Screenshot)
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Updated 20 November 2021

Controversial columnist Abdel Bari Atwan defies UK government ban, expresses sympathy for Hamas

Atwan, who is originally Palestinian and came to UK on asylum, said he doesn’t care if his sympathy led him to jail and appeared to making hidden threats to the British government. (Screenshot)
  • Once a UK asylum seeker, now Atwan blames Britain for plight of Palestinians, justifies terror acts

LONDON: Defiant British columnist Abdel Bari Atwan appeared blatantly in contempt of a new British ruling which designated Hamas as an outlawed Palestinian terror group. 

Atwan, who is originally Palestinian and came to UK on asylum, said he doesn’t care if his sympathy led him to jail and appeared to making hidden threats to the British government.

“You are fueling our misery, you are fueling our anger. Shame on you, as Brits you created the Palestinian crisis, the Palestinian cause. You are the ones who expelled us from our land. You are the one who issued the Balfour Declaration,” Atwan said in his video response to the law.

“Welcome to terrorism,” he added.

The law was passed yesterday by Home Secretary Priti Patel who said “Hamas has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist training facilities.”

The organisation would be banned under the Terrorism Act and anyone expressing support for Hamas, flying its flag or arranging meetings for the organisation would be in breach of the law, the interior ministry confirmed. Patel is expected to present the change to parliament next week.

“I swear I wrote my will, I swear I am ready for this and know I am going to end up in prison,” the British-Palestinian editor wrote.

Known for his editorship of the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper, Atwan is now owner and publisher of the Rai Al Yawm website, which mainly revolves around his own controversial views regularly shared on YouTube. 

A long time resident of London, he is well known within Arab media circles. Having made his name working for the leading, moderate Saudi-owned Asharq Al Awsat before leaving to work at Al Quds. He is a regular commentator on Arab affairs on several British television and radio programs, and is often a guest on both main English language and Arabic services of BBC. 

While it is true that he is respected and idolized by some, Atwan’s views also made him many critics — particularly when comparing what he says in English versus what he argues in Arabic. 

Indeed, many observers criticized what they called the “Abdel Bari Atwan Syndrome” in the post 9/11 era. This was to indicate that he used to make anti-Al-Qaeda statements in English language media, but refer to the late terrorist leader Osama bin Laden as a “Sheikh” and a a resistance fighter during his repeated appearances on channels such as Al Jazeera Arabic. 

He once told Egypt’s ONtv TV channel in 2013 that bin Laden was “half a terrorist,” since his organization’s attacks against US forces in Saudi Arabia could not be considered terrorism.

“If you support the Palestinian resistance, you do not consider [Bin Laden’s attacks] terrorism. But if you are with America, Europe, and Israel, you do consider it terrorism,” Atwan said, adding that “It depends on your definition of terrorism.”

On another occasion Atwan said on Lebanese TV that if Iran attacked Israel he would “go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight.”

More recently Atwan told Lebanese Hezbollah-affiliated news channel Al-Mayadeen that “They [Israel] know very well that what happened in Kabul Airport will repeat itself at Ben Gurion Airport,” before adding that they “should listen to the advice of [Hezbollah Secretary General] Hassan Nasrallah and start learning how to swim, because their only option will be Cyprus, their only option will be the Mediterranean Sea.”

Atwan wasn’t immediately available to comment, however, one former colleague of his at Asharq Al Awsat said “it was always a shame to see such a rare editorial talent being wasted in voicing support to terror groups.” 

“There is nothing wrong with calling for resisting occupation or the liberation of occupied Palestinian lands, but to endorse a designated terror group that deliberately fires missiles at innocent women and children is neither resistance nor journalism. Someone of his fine calibre should know better,” the former colleague concluded.


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.