Leaked Newsroom Emails Reveal Al Jazeera Fury over Global Support for Charlie Hebdo

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Brendan Bordelon reports: As journalists worldwide reacted with universal revulsion at the massacre of some of their owxn by Islamic jihadists in Paris, Al Jazeera English editor and executive producer Salah-Aldeen Khadr sent out a staff-wide email.

“Please accept this note in the spirit it is intended — to make our coverage the best it can be,” the London-based Khadr wrote Thursday, in the first of a series of internal emails leaked to National Review Online. “We are Al Jazeera!”

“I guess if you insult 1.5 billion people chances are one or two of them will kill you.”

— Mohamed Vall Salem

Below was a list of “suggestions” for how anchors and correspondents at the Qatar-based news outlet should cover Wednesday’s slaughter at the Charlie Hebdo office (the full emails can be found at here at NRO).

“Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile,” Khadr wrote. “Baiting extremists isn’t bravely defiant when your manner of doing so is more significant in offending millions of moderate people as well.”

— Salah-Aldeen Khadr

Khadr urged his employees to ask if this was “really an attack on ‘free speech,’” discuss whether “I am Charlie” is an “alienating slogan,” caution viewers against “making this a free speech aka ‘European Values’ under attack binary [sic],” and portray the attack as “a clash of extremist fringes.”

“What Charlie Hebdo did was not free speech it was an abuse of free speech in my opinion, go back to the cartoons and have a look at them!” Salem later wrote. “It’ snot [sic] about what the drawing said, it was about how they said it. I condemn those heinous killings, but I’M NOT CHARLIE.”

— Mohamed Vall Salem

“Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile,” Khadr wrote. “Baiting extremists isn’t bravely defiant when your manner of doing so is more significant in offending millions of moderate people as well. And within a climate where violent response—however illegitimate [sic]—is a real risk, taking a goading stand on a principle virtually no one contests is worse than pointless: it’s pointlessly all about you.”

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His denunciation of Charlie Hebdo’s publication of cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed didn’t sit well with some Al Jazeera English employees.

Hours later, U.S.-based correspondent Tom Ackerman sent an email quoting a paragraph from a New York Times’ January 7 column by Ross Douthat. The op-ed argued that cartoons like the ones that drove the radical Islamists to murder must be published, “because the murderers cannot be allowed for a single moment to think that their strategy can succeed.”

That precipitated an angry backlash from the network’s Qatar-based correspondents, revealing in the process a deep cultural rift at a network once accused of overt anti-Western bias. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Egyptian Court Convicts 3 Al Jazeera Journalists to Seven Years in Prison on Terrorism-Related Charges

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Three journalists working for Al Jazeera were convicted Monday by an Egyptian court to seven years in prison on terrorism-related charges, The Associated Press reported.

The three journalists for the network’s English-language channel — Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian who has previously worked for CNN and The New York Times; Peter Greste, an Australian who has previously worked for the BBC; and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian who has worked for other international news organizations — have been in jail since December. Read the rest of this entry »


Journalist Peter Greste Spends World Press Freedom Day Behind Bars in Egypt

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Detained since December 29: Peter Greste. Photo: AP

For The Canberra Times reports: Jailed Australian journalist Peter Greste will spend Unesco’s World Press Freedom Day behind bars in Eygpt, simply for doing his job.

“Few of us would have the courage to practise true investigative journalism in places like Mexico, where your head can end up next to your laptop on a road as a message to others.”

— Investigative reporter Nick McKenzie

He says his case has become an emblem for the need for freedom of press worldwide.

In a message read by his parents in Sydney on Friday, Greste said the irony of his sending greetings from Mulhaq Al Masra Prison hardly needed mentioning.

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“Yet here we are, the Al Jazeera three, facing our 126th day of detention and a seventh appearance before an Eygptian court on charges of terrorism,” he said.

Greste, a reporter with the Al Jazeera network, and television producers Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have been detained since December 29 on charges of helping terrorist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. They will make their  seventh request for bail on Saturday.

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Greste said many local journalists were also in jail because of what Egyptian authorities described “as their own war on terror”.

His parents Lois and Juris Greste were “panic stricken” when they heard that nearly 700 members of the Muslim Brotherhood had been sentenced to death. Read the rest of this entry »