‘Juhayman: 40 years on:’ Arab News’ multimedia project tells full story of 1979 Makkah siege

Updated 19 November 2019

‘Juhayman: 40 years on:’ Arab News’ multimedia project tells full story of 1979 Makkah siege

  • Featuring interviews with key players such as Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s English-language newspaper tells the full story of the unthinkable event that cast a shadow over its society for decades
  • As part of its Deep Dive series online, featuring documentary-style multimedia stories, Arab News looks back at this event in a way no Saudi publication has done before

Forty years ago this week, on Nov. 20, 1979, a group of militants did the unthinkable: They seized the Grand Mosque in Makkah, taking people hostage inside in a two-week standoff with Saudi forces.

Until recently, the crisis remained too painful for Saudis to examine fully for almost four decades. Now Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s leading English-language daily, is looking back at the event in a way that no publication in the Kingdom has done before: with a multimedia Deep Dive story online at arabnews.com/juhayman-40-years-on.

“The 1979 attack on Makkah’s  Grand Mosque halted major social development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, negatively affecting a progressing nation for generations to come,” said Rawan Radwan, the lead reporter on the project, who is based in Jeddah. “At Arab News, we delved deep into the matter to uncover the story of Juhayman, the terrorist who seized the holiest site and shook the Islamic world. It’s a story that for many years struck fear in the hearts of the Saudi people, yet has not been covered in such depth in local or international media — until now.”

Arab News launched its Deep Dive series earlier this year as an engaging new way to showcase its in-depth storytelling on key topics, enlivened by audio, video and animated graphics. Its first story was an in-depth account of the space mission by the first Arab astronaut, Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman; the siege of Makkah is another story from the Kingdom’s past that it chose to revisit.

Extensive research was conducted over two months in several cities, including Makkah itself, and involved teams in five of Arab News’ bureaus: Jeddah, Riyadh, Dubai, London and Beirut. The team interviewed key players such as Prince Turki Al-Faisal, then head of the General Intelligence Directorate, and re-created what happened in a series of interactive maps.

 

Juhayman: 40 years on
On the anniversary of the 1979 attack on Makkah's Grand Mosque, Arab News tells the full story of an unthinkable event that shocked the Islamic world and cast a shadow over Saudi society for decades

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Turkey ranks highest in world for attacks and threats against female journalists

Updated 06 May 2021

Turkey ranks highest in world for attacks and threats against female journalists

ANKARA: A new report from the Coalition for Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) states that Turkey is “the leading country for attacks and threats against women journalists” this year.

Between January and April, 114 female journalists were attacked or threatened in Turkey the New York-based media organization revealed — more than in any other country in the world.

The CFWIJ’s First Quarterly Report for 2021 coincidentally coincided with Izzet Ulvi Yonter, deputy leader of the Turkish government’s coalition partner Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), targeting female anchor Ebru Baki for her coverage of the MHP’s draft constitution proposal.

Yonter referred to the broadcaster as a “so-called journalist who distorts the facts and shows her intolerance against the MHP,” and said her attempts to “discredit” their draft proposal were “offensive and crude.”

Yonter’s criticism was followed on May 5 by the resignation of Bulent Aydemir, Haberturk TV’s chief editor and Baki’s co-anchor on the morning program.

The program was taken off air on Thursday, triggering a nationwide social media campaign using “I don’t watch Haberturk TV” as hashtag.

CFWIJ’s report said that, in Turkey, “Almost 50 women journalists appeared before the court to fight baseless charges; 20 suffered heavy workplace bullying at the newsrooms; 15 female journalists were subjected to police violence while covering the news, 14 were detained; three women journalists were sentenced to prison, and three were expelled. While one journalist was threatened with intimidation, another became the target of racist rhetoric” during the period covered.

Scott Griffen, deputy director at the International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of journalists and editors defending media freedom, told Arab News: “Women journalists face a double threat: They are attacked for their work and they are attacked for their gender — a reflection of … sexism in society. IPI’s own research has shown that online attacks on female journalists tend to be more vicious and the insults and threats are often of a sexual nature.”

According to Griffen, attacks on women journalists are part of a broader trend, which is an effort by those in power to smear and undermine critical journalism and diverse voices.

Referring to Yonter’s attack on Baki, he said: “This incident shows that a political party, in this case the MHP, is unable to accept criticism and simply does not — or does not want to — understand the role of journalism in society. Politicians are required to accept criticism, even harsh criticism. Ebru Baki was doing her job, and the attacks on her are unacceptable.”

Griffen thinks that one consequence of these attacks is the risk of a rise in self-censorship.

“Journalists who are faced with such vicious attacks may decide to reconsider their reporting to avoid such abuse in the future, or they may even decide to leave the profession. And this is a huge loss for the public,” he said. “It means that stories are not being told, and diverse voices are not being heard. And, of course, that is what the attackers want. They wish to push critical voices out of the public sphere.”

Male journalists in Turkey have also been the targets of verbal and physical attacks. Recently, dissident journalist Levent Gultekin was beaten by a mob in the middle of a street in Istanbul, shortly after he criticized the MHP and its former leader. Gultekin was verbally attacked by the MHP deputy leader just before the assault.

“The crackdown against critical and independent media in Turkey is worsening every single day with new attacks from political figures. And female journalists who are reporting on critical issues that are sensitive to the government or its political allies are not immune from the attacks,” Renan Akyavas, Turkey program coordinator of IPI, told Arab News.

IPI’s own recent research also confirms that female journalists are more likely targets of online harassment for their critical reporting and views, she added.

The trend of public figures targeting journalists to silence dissident voices has been on the rise, Akyavas said. “We especially see an increasing trend of attacks by the ultra-nationalist MHP’s leaders and representatives to intimidate journalists, even in response to mild criticism.

“The targeting of Ebru Baki and Haberturk TV is only the latest example of this attitude, which is simply unacceptable coming from a governing alliance party. The MHP leadership must … protect fundamental rights and the safety of journalists, instead of threatening them,” she continued.

Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention — and the protection it provided against domestic violence — in March triggered further threats and violence against women reporters, the CFWIJ report underlined.

Akyavas agrees. “The withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention had been a huge disappointment for women in Turkey fighting for their rights and gender equality. Impunity for crimes and violence against women has become a new norm for the country,” she said, adding that this trend will cease only if Turkish authorities show a genuine will to protect and implement women’s rights.

“Women journalists in Turkey must continue their courageous reporting, as their fundamental rights and freedom of expression were guaranteed and fully protected by the Turkish constitution. At IPI, we will continue our solidarity with them and our support for critical and independent journalism to provide the public with factual, objective news,” Akyavas continued.

The Turkish Journalists’ Association, TGC, released a statement on Thursday criticizing the way women journalists have been targeted by the MHP just because they smiled on air. “Such an attitude targets our colleagues’ safety and security. We call on the government and its partners to respect the law,” it noted.


Facebook board upholds Trump suspension

Facebook's independent oversight board was set for a momentous decision on the platform's ban of former US president Donald Trump. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 May 2021

Facebook board upholds Trump suspension

  • The social network’s quasi-independent Oversight Board voted to uphold Trump’s ban from the platform

SAN FRANCISCO: Former President Donald Trump won’t return to Facebook — for now.
The social network’s quasi-independent Oversight Board voted to uphold his ban from the platform after his account was suspended four months ago for inciting violence that led to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
While upholding the suspension, the board faulted Facebook for the way it made the decision.
The board said the ongoing risk of serious violence justified Facebook’s suspension at the time, but said it “was not appropriate for Facebook to impose an ‘indefinite’ suspension.”
The board said Facebook was seeking to avoid its responsibilities by applying “a vague, standardless penalty” and then referring the case to the board to resolve.
The board agreed with Facebook that that two of Trump’s Jan. 6 posts “severely violated” the content standards of both Facebook and Instagram.
“We love you. You’re very special,” he said in the first post, and “great patriots” and “remember this day forever” in the second. Those violated Facebook’s rules against praising or supporting people engaged in violence, the board said.
The board says Facebook has six months to reexamine the “arbitrary penalty” it imposed on Jan. 7 and decide on another penalty that reflects the “gravity of the violation and the prospect of future harm.”
The board says the new penalty must be “clear, necessary and proportionate” and consistent with Facebook’s rules for severe violations.
The board says if Facebook decides to restore Trump’s accounts, the company must be able to promptly address further violations.
Trump has also been permanently banned from Twitter.
Controversial decision
Trump’s suspension was the first time Facebook had blocked a current president, prime minister or head of state. Facebook’s oversight board said it received more than 9,000 comments from the public on the Trump ban, the most it has had for a case so far.
Several academics and civil rights groups have publicly shared their letters urging the board to block Trump permanently, while Republican lawmakers and some free expression advocates have criticized the decision.
Since taking action on Trump, social media companies have faced calls from some rights groups and activists to be more consistent in their approach to other world leaders who have pushed or broken their rules, such as Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Leader Ali Khamenei, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and lawmakers linked to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“I would hope that they’re also thinking about the precedent-setting of this,” said Katie Harbath, a former Facebook public policy director and a fellow at the Washington D.C.-based Bipartisan Policy Center. “What does that look like internationally, what does that look like in the long term?” she added.
The Oversight Board, an idea that Zuckerberg first publicly floated in 2018, currently has 20 members, including former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and several law experts and rights advocates. Decisions need only majority approval.
The board, which some have dubbed Facebook’s “Supreme Court,” has been hailed as a novel experiment by some researchers but blasted by other critics who have been skeptical over its independence or view it as a PR stunt to deflect attention from the company’s more systemic problems.
It is funded through a $130 million trust created by Facebook and has so far made rulings on a small number of cases from hate speech to nudity.
Facebook’s head of global affairs Nick Clegg told Reuters in January that he was “very confident” of the company’s case on Trump’s ban and said “any reasonable person” looking at Facebook’s policies and the circumstances would agree.


Russia seeks extra fines against Twitter over ‘banned content’: TASS

Twitter denies allowing its platform to be used to promote illegal behavior. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 May 2021

Russia seeks extra fines against Twitter over ‘banned content’: TASS

  • State communications regulator Roskomnadzor said last week that Twitter was complying with a demand to remove banned content, but taking too long to do so
  • TASS said six reports concerning Twitter, each carrying a possible fine of up to 4 million roubles over a failure to remove content

MOSCOW: Russia is seeking an additional 24 million roubles ($321,586) in fines from US tech giant Twitter for failing to remove content banned in Russia, the TASS news agency cited a court as saying on Wednesday.
State communications regulator Roskomnadzor said last week that Twitter was complying with a demand to remove banned content, but taking too long to do so. A punitive slowdown on the service has been extended until May 15.
TASS said six reports concerning Twitter, each carrying a possible fine of up to 4 million roubles over a failure to remove content, had been lodged with a Moscow court under Russia’s Administrative Offences Code.
No date for the hearing has been set, TASS said. Roskomnadzor, Twitter and the court did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In April, a court issued three separate fines against Twitter, totalling 8.9 million roubles, over accusations it had failed to delete banned content.
Roskomnadzor has said it wants Twitter to delete content that contains child pornography, drug abuse information or calls for minors to commit suicide.
Twitter denies allowing its platform to be used to promote illegal behavior, says it has a zero-tolerance policy for child sexual exploitation, and prohibits the promotion of suicide or self-harm.
Russia has in recent months taken steps to exert more control over the operations of foreign social media platforms and tech companies. Russian authorities are suing Google, Facebook and others for allegedly failing to delete posts urging children to take part in illegal protests.
The cases were opened after protests nationwide over the jailing in February of Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin.
Separately, Apple was last week fined $12 million for alleged abuse of its dominance in the mobile applications market.

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Trump launches place to post ahead of Facebook board ruling on his ban

Facebook's independent oversight board was set for a momentous decision on the platform's ban of former US president Donald Trump. (AFP)
Updated 05 May 2021

Trump launches place to post ahead of Facebook board ruling on his ban

  • The move comes a day before a decision from Facebook Inc’s oversight board on whether to uphold Trump’s indefinite suspension from the platform
  • Trump’s senior adviser, Jason Miller, said in a tweet that this collection of posts was not the social media platform that Trump has plans to launch

WASHINGTON: Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday launched a space on his website where he can post messages that can be shared by others to Twitter and Facebook, sites where he remains banned.
The move comes a day before a decision from Facebook Inc’s oversight board on whether to uphold Trump’s indefinite suspension from the platform. Trump was barred from a slew of social media platforms following the deadly Jan. 6 storming of the US Capitol by his supporters.
Trump’s senior adviser, Jason Miller, said in a tweet that this collection of posts was not the social media platform that Trump has plans to launch. “We’ll have additional information coming on that front in the very near future,” he tweeted.
The site, which was first reported by Fox News, is dubbed “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” and contains posts from Trump that can be shared and liked. A source familiar with the matter said it was built by Campaign Nucleus, the digital services company created by Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale.
Posts on the site repeated Trump’s false claim that he lost the 2020 election because of widespread voter fraud and denigrated fellow Republicans who have been critical of him like Senator Mitt Romney and Representative Liz Cheney.
Twitter Inc. and Facebook have both removed content posted from other accounts that they said tried to circumvent their bans on Trump.
A Twitter spokesman said sharing content from the website would be permitted as long as the material did not otherwise break Twitter’s rules, but that attempts to circumvent a suspension would not be permitted — for example, imitating a suspended account to try to replace it.
He said Twitter would look out for any such cases.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how it would treat posts shared from the new space.
Twitter, which Trump used heavily and where he had 88 million followers, has said its ban on him is permanent, even if he runs for office again. Alphabet Inc’s YouTube has said it will restore Trump’s channel when it decides the risk of violence has decreased.


Facebook’s Workplace tool reaches 7 million paid subscribers

Facebook Workplace. (Facebook)
Updated 05 May 2021

Facebook’s Workplace tool reaches 7 million paid subscribers

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has changed work for millions globally who have switched from being in the office to working from home
  • Workplace, which is developed and run from Facebook’s offices in London, was launched in 2016

LONDON: Social media platform Facebook Inc. said on Tuesday that its Workplace tool had reached 7 million paid subscribers, up more than 40 percent from a year earlier.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed work for millions globally who have switched from being in the office to working from home, fueling demand for enterprise connectivity platforms, such as Workplace, Slack and Microsoft Teams.
Workplace had 5 million paid users in May 2020.
Microsoft Teams has 145 million daily users, versus 115 million in October, Microsoft Corp. said last week.
In October, Facebook announced a global alliance with Deloitte to help companies use Workplace to meet the challenges of remote working.
Workplace, which is developed and run from Facebook’s offices in London, was launched in 2016.