No to bullying

 28 Nov 2017 - 14:55

The Peninsula

One of the main targets of the illegal and unjustifiable blockade against the State of Qatar by the Saudi-led quartet was Al Jazeera television channel. On June 22, the siege countries issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of Al Jazeera, as a prerequisite to lifting the sanctions. Al Jazeera television, supported by human rights and press freedom groups, have denounced the warning as an intrusion into freedom of speech.

As the blockade is entering the sixth month, Al Jazeera is still the bone of contention for the siege countries as they continue their nefarious attempts to discredit the image of Qatar’s proud icon to international media by blocking access to Al Jazeera‘s Arabic and English channels as well as its websites and closing its bureaus in their countries.

The siege nations continue their sacrilegious attempts by branding the Qatar-based channel of promoting terrorism without producing any evidence. The latest in this series is Twitter posts by Dubai Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan, known for his notorious and irresponsible statements, who openly called on the Saudi-led alliance to bomb Al Jazeera by equating the channel with ISIL, Al Qaeda and the Al Nusra front.

The ex-Dubai police chief, now head of security in the Emirate, had made several controversial and irresponsible tweets in the past but has never been prosecuted under the nation’s anti-hate speech laws. Once he called on UAE government to annex Qatar, referring to it as an ‘eighth emirate’. His hate comments also target Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, Islamic Republic of Iran and even the poor Somalis by calling them ‘unproductive group’. In March last year, he made headlines after urging Arabs to ally with Israel against ‘enemies of the Middle East’ — a veiled attack against Iran and the region’s Shia community.

Yasser Abuhilalah, managing director of Al Jazeera Arabic, has rightly pointed out that, “what Dhahi Khalfan is doing is incitement to terrorism. Terrorism is not just limited to committing a crime, but any act or statement that paves the way for a terrorist act or incites it, and incitement to terrorism is terrorism itself,” he said.

Al Jazeera earlier this month proudly celebrated its 21st anniversary at the network’s headquarters attended by the Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. This year’s celebration, held under the slogan “Al Jazeera Cannot Be Shut Down” clearly indicates to the siege countries that bullying has no place in the modern world. Countries who secretly aid terrorist organisations in various parts of the region for their vested interests have no right to threaten a responsible media outlet which stands for freedom of speech with its brave intervention in people’s cause. Since its launch, many of Al Jazeera’s offices have occasionally been bombed or shut down in many places, including Kabul, Baghdad and Gaza for objective reporting. So no more bullying.