Tunisia frees cartoonist after his arrest over drawings mocking PM

Omrane pledged that he would continue his satirical drawings. (Facebook/File)
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Updated 22 September 2023

Tunisia frees cartoonist after his arrest over drawings mocking PM

  • Tawfiq Omrane could face one year in prison if convicted

TUNIS: Tunisia’s public prosecutor on Friday released the cartoonist Tawfiq Omrane, after he was detained for hours over drawings mocking the prime minister, fueling concern among free speech advocates.
Omrane is well known for publishing satirical cartoons featuring President Kais Saied, who seized almost all powers two years ago after he shut down Tunisia’s elected parliament in a move that the opposition described as a coup.
“They interrogated me on suspicion of insulting the prime minister. They showed a drawing that they considered offensive,” Omrane told Diwan FM Tunisian radio.
Omrane pledged that he would continue his satirical drawings.
“The police interrogated him (Omrane) for hours without the presence of lawyers on suspicion of insulting through social networks ... over cartoons mocking the prime minister,” his lawyer, Anas Kadoussi, told Reuters. Kadoussi said the cartoonist could face one year in prison if convicted.
Interior Ministry officials declined to comment immediately.
Ahmed Hachani is the prime minister, appointed last month to replace Najla Bouden.
Many Tunisians see free speech as a principal reform won after the 2011 revolution that toppled dictatorial President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Activists, journalists and politicians have warned this freedom is under threat.
“Omrane’s arrest reinforces authorities’ efforts to suppress critical voices of the president,” said Amira Mohamed, a senior official at the country’s Journalists’ Syndicate.
Kais Saied strongly criticized state TV in a speech this week, including the arrangement of headlines in a bulletin, in a move that the Journalists Syndicate said was “blatant interference.”
Saied rejects accusations of targeting freedoms and has said he will never be a dictator.
Police have detained more than 20 political figures this year, including opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Ennahda party, accusing some of plotting against state security.

Fast Company Middle East issues list of Most Innovative Companies

Updated 27 November 2023

Fast Company Middle East issues list of Most Innovative Companies

  • Second edition features 42 reputations across 23 sectors

DUBAI: Business news magazine Fast Company, which launched its Middle East edition last year, has unveiled this year’s list of the region’s Most Innovative Companies.

The list recognizes 42 companies across 23 sectors, which include e-commerce, retail, consumer goods and media.

Ravi Raman, publisher of Fast Company Middle East, told Arab News: “The Most Innovative Companies list not only sends a positive signal to teams and stakeholders but also resonates globally, showcasing how companies in the Middle East are pushing the boundaries of innovation.

“I am truly impressed by the profound impact each honoree is making in their respective industries, which reaffirms our belief in the human spirit to imagine, create, and improve.”

Three companies were recognized in the media category: Al Arabiya News Channel for advancing technology in news delivery; Kapturise for being a one-stop solution for content creation; and Telfaz11 for extending creative and cultural influence beyond Saudi Arabia.

In the advertising, branding and PR category, five companies were chosen, with three of the five spots being bagged by advertising network Publicis Groupe Middle East and its agencies Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi.

The list also featured media intelligence provider Carma for delivering tailor-made content, and banking firm Mashreq for its innovative campaigns.

Advertising agency TBWA\RAAD was recognized in the workplaces category for creating shared goals through dynamic and flexible policies.

OSN was the only company to be featured in the entertainment category due to its inclusive content strategy.

Other companies in this year’s list include multinationals like L’Oreal Middle East and PepsiCo Middle East, as well as local entities like Masdar City and e&.

Media Oasis opens in Paris to support Riyadh’s bid to stage World Expo 2030

Updated 27 November 2023

Media Oasis opens in Paris to support Riyadh’s bid to stage World Expo 2030

  • Event hosted by Kingdom’s Ministry of Media
  • Showcases best of Saudi cultural, development projects

RIYADH: The Saudi Media Ministry is hosting the second Media Oasis event in Paris, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The event, which opened on Sunday and runs through Tuesday, is being held alongside a meeting to select the host city for World Expo 2030, for which Riyadh is in the running.

Media Oasis was launched by the Media Ministry to showcase the best of Saudi cultural and development projects and initiatives to visitors from around the world.

Covering 1,200 square meters within the Pavilion at Place Vendome, it comprises exhibitions and interactive displays, hospitality and networking spaces, and “Saudi Treasures” and “Riyadh 2030” areas.

It also provides media support to international news outlets taking part in the Expo meeting.

The ministry collaborated with numerous partners on the event, including the Saudi Tourism Authority, Ministry of Sports, the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, the Asir Region Development Authority, NEOM, Diriyah, the King Salman Park Project, Sports Boulevard, the Green Riyadh initiative, Riyadh Art, New Square Co., the Royal Institute of Traditional Arts and the Saudi Konoz initiative.

BBC slammed for mistranslating Arabic interview of released Palestinian prisoner

Updated 27 November 2023

BBC slammed for mistranslating Arabic interview of released Palestinian prisoner

  • The mistranslation has sparked significant backlash on social media since the interview was aired

LONDON: The BBC has come under fire for mistranslating the words of a Palestinian prisoner following the her exchange as part of a hostage release deal between Isreal and Hamas on Friday.

Respond Crisis Translation stated that the former detainee criticized her Israeli captors in her initial statement, condemning them for their inhumane treatment of prisoners.

“They imprisoned us for a month. As winter came, they cut off the electricity. We almost died from the cold weather,” was translated to English subtitles as “and no one helped us. Only Hamas cared. Those who felt our suffering, I thank them very much.”

The former detainee proceeded to mention, “they (the Israelis) sprayed us with pepper spray and left us to die inside the prison,” but the English subtitles were interpreted as “and we love them very much,” potentially implying that her emotions were aimed at Hamas.

“The shortened video clip we posted included English subtitles, but due to an editing error did not include the full comments themselves. We have since uploaded the original video clip, so that it includes the full comments with corresponding translation, and added a note of clarification,” a BBC spokesperson told Arab News.

The incorrect translation caused uproar online, exacerbated by the fact the BBC has an Arabic language service.

“She never mentioned Hamas or a word like it,” Respond Crisis Translation posted on X.

“This egregious mistranslation is not just a language error; it is a racist fabrication that fans the flames of the war. Mistranslations such as these —intentional or not — are exacerbating the ongoing genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.”

Social media users also took to Meta and X to slam the BBC for falsifying what was said in the interview, with one Instagram user stating: “This is the BBC literally inciting violence this is horrific,” and many other users stating: “Shame on you @bbc.”

The BBC has temporarily removed the video of the interview due to “an error in the editing process.”

Arab News contacted the BBC for comment.

Court document claims Meta knowingly designed its platforms to hook kids, reports say

Updated 27 November 2023

Court document claims Meta knowingly designed its platforms to hook kids, reports say

  • One Facebook safety executive alluded to the possibility that cracking down on younger users might hurt the company’s business in a 2019 email, according a report

SAN FRANCISO: Facebook parent Meta Platforms deliberately engineered its social platforms to hook kids and knew — but never disclosed — that it had received millions of complaints about underage users on Instagram but only disabled a fraction of those accounts, according to a newly unsealed legal complaint described in reports from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
The complaint, originally made public in redacted form, was the opening salvo in a lawsuit filed in late October by the attorneys general of 33 states.
According to the reports, Meta said in a statement that the complaint misrepresents its work over the past decade to make the online experience safe for teens and said it doesn’t design its products to be addictive to younger users. Meta didn’t immediately provide a comment on the unredacted complaint following a request from The Associated Press.
Company documents cited in the complaint described several Meta officials acknowledging that the company designed its products to exploit shortcomings in youthful psychology such as impulsive behavior, susceptibility to peer pressure and the underestimation of risks, according to the reports. Others acknowledged that Facebook and Instagram were also popular with children under age 13, who, per company policy, were not allowed to use the service.
One Facebook safety executive alluded to the possibility that cracking down on younger users might hurt the company’s business in a 2019 email, according to the Journal report. But a year later the same executive expressed frustration that while Facebook readily studied the usage of underage users for business reasons, it didn’t show the same enthusiasm for ways to identify younger kids and remove them from its platforms.
The complaint noted that at times Meta has a backlog of up to 2.5 million accounts of younger children awaiting action, according to the reports.

Al Hadath expands reach with new Riyadh newsroom

Updated 26 November 2023

Al Hadath expands reach with new Riyadh newsroom

  • Newsroom to improve ‘efficiency, immediacy’ of live coverage

LONDON: In a move to bolster its regional presence, Al Hadath news channel has opened a new Riyadh newsroom.

The expansion is in line with the channel’s ongoing efforts to broaden its operations in the region.

In a statement, the network said: “This strategic expansion aligns with a period of intensifying regional events and their profound implications on the global stage.”

According to the channel, the new service would be geared toward improving the efficiency and immediacy of live coverage, facilitating a more thorough analysis of events in the region.

As part of the expansion, the new Riyadh newsroom features live broadcast studios equipped with the latest media technology, including ultra-high-definition imagery, illustrative screens, and analysis tools powered by artificial intelligence.

Launched in 2011, the free-to-air news and current affairs satellite channel has operated as an extension of the long-standing Al Arabiya news channel, bringing viewers extensive live coverage of events as they happen from throughout the Arab world and beyond.