Al-Jazeera is the most influential broadcaster in the Arab world. Though it was a state-owned news network of Qatar, it offered the kind of unrestrictive and uncensored debate never seen on any Arab televisions. The talk shows brought in guests from across the political variety, smartly produced news bulletins, presence of the correspondents and altogether shaped an impression of the first Arab television network that can criticise the government of any country. People assumed to have a new media on the Arab homeland that would guide people to come out of ignorance and strengthen the scope of freedom of thought and expression. But for the last few years, Al-Jazeera’s previous reputation for impartial reporting considerably changed and it turned into a mouthpiece of specific political outline, backing Muslim Brotherhood’s self-styled revolutions throughout the world. The channel that had welcomed itself as the voice of the voiceless has become a heaven for the Islamist extremists, clearly avoiding the voices that did not fit with their policies.
Al-Jazeera - Offshoot of Muslim Brotherhood
There are reasons to believe that Al-Jazeera initially launched to compete with other international news channels such as the BBC and CNN. Some renowned journalists have been appointed to maintain international standard. But since 2011, there’s a clear core message: that the way out of this spiral is political Islam. Public concern was: Who is behind this channel and who decides its policies, editorial line and goals!
Qatari royal Tamim bin Hamad and Sheikh Hamid bin Thamer, believed to be the mainstay of the network, supposed to be aligned with the philosophy of Muslim Brotherhood movement. It is evidently seen that the ruling house of Thani has spent excessively on Qatar’s presence on the global stage. The petroleum kingdom determined its way to regional domination.
The media consent of the pan-Arab channel moved to the next stage of propagating the terrorist ideologies of Muslim Brotherhood. The channel gradually lost the interest of people. The offshoots of the ideology of Muslim Brotherhood include Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Palestinian Hamas and Jamaat-e-Islami of south Asia. Though the organisations were established independently but all of them share the common ideology of political Islam conveyed by Jamal Uddin Afgani, Hasan Al Banna and later adopted by Syed Qutb and Abu Ala Maududi. What binds these groups together with ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hizbullah and other terrorist groups is a call to fundamentalism, anti-colonialism and enforcement of Sharia law. They believe in gradual infiltration of its ideology among the masses and portrays itself a devotee in democracy but proxies of choice have been radical regimes and to influence and destabilise rivals.
Close Interaction with Terrorism
There were frequent documents and authentic reports against AJ of providing money and material support and conveying communications to al-Qaeda while simultaneously supporting Hamas, MB, ISIS and al-Nusra Front.Abdul Karim al-Thani, a member of Qatar's royal family, ran a safe house for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the predecessor to ISIS.
The United States designated Qatar-based terrorist financier and facilitator Abd Al-Rahman al-Nuaimi was praised on AJ for “teaching young Muslims the essence of Jihad”. Wagdi Ghoneim, who has been sentenced to death in Egypt, Harith al-Dari, Iraqi sheikh and tribal leader designated as a terrorist fundraiser regularly appears on the channel. Ghoneim has celebrated the death of the Coptic Pope, referred the Christians as “Crusaders” and justified the sexual enslavement of the Yazidi women.
Qatar-based Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf Qaradawi spread radical messages that have inflamed sectarian divides.
Al-Jazeera has hosted programmes with Osama Bin Laden (Al Qaeda), Abu Mohammad Al Jolani (Al Nusra), Khalid Mashal (Hamas), Mohammad Deif (Hamas), Anwar Al Awlaki (Al Qaeda), Hassan Nasrallah (Hizbullah), Ramadan Shallah (Palestinian Islamic Jihad), and Abdul Hakim Belhadj (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group), and other controversial figures on air since its founding.
Yellow Journalism and political activism
Recently everyone is complaining about the new trend of AJ – that the liberals, the secular types and the Arab nationalists are getting downsized. The radical position is dominating the newsroom of AJ. Their yellow journalism represented nothing more than political activism of certain radical group. The channel’s reports started with the aim they wanted to achieve and then looked for arguments. To fulfil the purpose, fabricated videos have been broadcasted, figures of any incident have been twisted, events exaggerated in order to incite the international community and claims made by human rights groups were filtered in their favour.
Al-Jazeera broadcasted reports were composition of half-truths, biased and one-sided presentation. Wherever there was any ideological ally of MB, Al-Jazeera became the voice of the particular group. Their unprecedented anarchy and interference in the internal affairs created agitation in different countries. For example, the history of the Liberation War of Bangladesh has been distorted in AJ’s documentary. Their manipulated reports were ill-motivated attempt to save the war criminals of Bangladesh.
India put a ban on AJ, as they aired a misleading documentary on Kashmir.
In fact, no media ever witnessed such prejudiced journalism like AJ. As a result, for the last few years, resignations at Al-Jazeera became increasingly regular.
“There’s a difference between a channel being a spokesperson for Hamas, and one like Al-Jazeera, which shouldn’t try to play to what the street wants,” said Hafez al-Mirazi, the long time Washington bureau chief for Al-Jazeera who resigned in the spring of this year.
“No doubt Al-Jazeera has crossed the line”, David Marash, who later worked as an anchor for Al-Jazeera English from 2006 up until his resignation in 2008. Marash directly cited “an increased level of editorial control” by Qatar as his reason for leaving the network.
AJ is widely accused of 'pro-Morsi' discrimination and broadcasting numerous reports on Egypt favouring MB. 22 members of journalist of Egypt resigned in protest against the channel’s one-sided policies and biased coverage.
The TV channel was losing its way especially AJ Arabic's publicised reputation for even-handedness in recent years.
Al-Jazeera America’s CEO and other staff resigned alleging discriminatory conduct, anti-Semitic and radical view and manipulation of truth. As a result AJ had to shut down Al-Jazeera America.
AJ has shown how dangerous negligent media can be when they claimed the terrorist groups as “liberators” and “moderate rebels”, termed terrorist attack as “divine punishment” and praised for “teaching young Muslims the essence of Jihad’s ideology as a substance of mandatory accomplishment for every Muslim.”
The mother of one of the London Bridge attackers said that her son was radicalised by watching Al-Jazeera.
On the other side, AJ was totally silent about everything that went against Qatari royal policies. 90 per cent of Turkish media remains in control of Tayyep Erdogan and hundreds of journalists being jailed and hundreds of media outlets, accused of terrorism, being shut down, but AJ showed no interest as Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has close ideological ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ban on Al-Jazeera
Qatar as well as Al-Jazeera is blamed for providing financial assistance and supports to Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots. The Muslim Brotherhood does not have an office in Qatar, but Brotherhood members, especially top leaders reside in the country. AJ becomes a tool of destruction, provocation and ominous platform to promote extremist ideas and incite hatred and terrorism,
Al-Jazeera allocates airtime to a range of dangerous forces across the region such as the MB, IS, Jamaat-e-Islami and Al Qaeda. As a result, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, broke diplomatic ties with Qatar considering national security. Like others, they also accused al-Jazeera for funding extremists and demanded the network to shut down.
The countries raised objection against Al-Jazeera includes, Bahrain, Iran, Turkey, Iraqi, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Malaysia, United States Syria, Lebanan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Jordan, Palestine, Israel
Qatar has provided financial aid and light weapons to MB-affiliated groups along with ensuring a base for leaders of the terrorist groups that has a global reach. Conversely, support for ISIS appears high among Qatari Facebook and Twitter users, according to a study. The sectarian tendency of the radical groups in the last few decades has exhibited extreme displays of religious and sectarian chauvinism and violence bordering on pessimism. The major concern about Al-Jazeera is the adoption of the ideology of Muslim Brotherhood, a dangerous militant group with a long history of violence. Qatar gradually became a safe heaven for extremists expelled by other countries. As Al-Jazeera is precisely aligned with Qatari foreign policy and terrorism originating from the radical groups in many forms remains the most immediate global threat. The risk of radicalization poses a long-term threat for the world. The freedom of expression is obviously a matter of fundamental importance, but it should have a borderline that comply with the international law to protect national and global security.
The writer is a columnist and political analyst. He can be reached at email [email protected]