‘Al Jazeera terror’ video highlights two sides of Qatari broadcaster

A file photo of the Al Jazeera America television broadcast studio in New York. (AFP)
Updated 26 July 2017

‘Al Jazeera terror’ video highlights two sides of Qatari broadcaster

LONDON: The appearance, disappearance and reappearance of a UAE government video on YouTube attacking Al Jazeera has drawn attention to the media war being fought around the broadcaster and its Arabic and English-language versions.
The video, which accuses Doha-based Al Jazeera of “inspiring terrorism,” has reappeared on YouTube after apparently having been taken down at the request of an employee.
Why that happened is not clear, but the episode has highlighted two very different popular perceptions of Al Jazeera — one as a platform for extremist ideologies, the other as a more balanced international broadcaster.
The five-minute YouTube package splices recorded segments from the Arabic-language service of Al Jazeera with messages that present it as a platform for terror groups.
Among the footage chosen is a clip from 2015 which shows a presenter reading the results of a poll that found more than 80 percent of its viewers supported Daesh.
The overall video was pulled from YouTube after a complaint apparently raised by an Al Jazeera producer, citing copyright infringements. It was later reinstated.
Google offers some guidance on the process for handling such copyright-based requests to remove content from the video-sharing site: “When a copyright holder notifies us of a video that infringes their copyright, we remove the content promptly in accordance with the law.
A copyright strike can be resolved if the user submits a counter-notification and prevails in that process,” said a spokeswoman.
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the video two weeks ago to coincide with a letter it sent to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights raising its concerns about Al Jazeera.
The same footage is also available to view via a paid Google ad link, where it competes with a rival package produced by Al Jazeera that features anchors and reporters from the broadcaster listing its own series of demands based around press freedom.

Al Jazeera is at the center of a bitter feud between Qatar and four of its neighbors that see it as an extension of Doha’s alleged support of terror groups.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with the country on June 5 and demanded the closure of the broadcaster whose English and Arabic language services have a markedly different tone.
“There is a big difference between the professional standards of Al Jazeera English versus Al Jazeera Arabic which unfortunately has been used as a tool in Qatar’s foreign policies,” said Noah Mellor, professor of media at University of Bedfordshire and author of “Voice of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The contrast in tone and content between the English and Arabic service of Al Jazeera has been highlighted by many commentators and long before the current crisis unfolded this summer.
A 2011 article published by the Washington Institute titled “Al Jazeera: One Organization, Two Messages,” said: “At a time when Al Jazeera is polishing a new image as a champion of media reform and freedom, one of its most popular Arabic television programs is that of fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood preacher Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, whose twinkly grin accompanies virulently anti-American and anti-Semitic diatribes interspersed with expressions of support for censorship of “anti-Islamic” messages.
“This is not to say that Al Jazeera English is without problems of its own or that Al Jazeera Arabic is entirely flawed; the point is that the messages are often different.”
Al Jazeera did not respond to a request for comment when contacted by Arab News.


Thailand suspends TV station over protests coverage

Updated 20 October 2020

Thailand suspends TV station over protests coverage

  • Thailand said on Monday that three other media organizations are under investigation
  • Protests have only gained momentum since the government announced a ban last Thursday and arrested dozens of protesters

BANGKOK: A Thai court on Tuesday ordered the suspension of an online TV station critical of the government, which has accused it of violating emergency measures aimed at ending three months of protests.
Voice TV had also been found to have breached the Computer Crime Act by uploading “false information,” digital ministry spokesman Putchapong Nodthaisong told reporters.
Thailand has drawn criticism from rights groups for banning demonstrations and the publication of news seen as damaging by the government as it tries to end the protests against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and the powerful monarchy.
Rittikorn Mahakhachabhorn, Editor-in-Chief of Voice TV, said it would continue broadcasting until the court order arrived.
“We insist that we have been operating based on journalistic principles and we will continue our work presently,” he said.
Thailand said on Monday that three other media organizations are under investigation.
Voice TV is owned in part by the Shinawatra family of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck, who was overthrown by Prayuth in a 2014 coup. Both fled Thailand to escape corruption cases they branded political.
Street protests since mid-July are the biggest challenge in decades to the monarchy under King Maha Vajiralongkorn and to Prayuth, who rejects accusations of engineering an election last year to keep power.
The demonstrations have been largely led by youths and students in contrast with a decade of street violence between supporters of Thaksin and conservative royalists before Prayuth seized power.
Protests have only gained momentum since the government announced a ban last Thursday and arrested dozens of protesters, including many of the main leaders.
A lawyer for two of them, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, said they would be arrested again on Tuesday as soon as they had been freed on bail granted by a court over earlier charges related to the protests.
Prime Minister Prayuth has said he will not quit in the face of the protests.
His cabinet agreed on Tuesday to hold an emergency session of parliament next week about the crisis. Prayuth’s supporters hold a majority in the parliament, whose upper house was named entirely by his former junta.