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September 29, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10237

Arab Intellectuals Accuse Al-Jazeera Of Ignoring Protests In Iran, Abandoning Protesters And Promoting Iranian Government Narrative

September 29, 2022
Iran, Qatar | Special Dispatch No. 10237

After the death of 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa "Zhina" Amini, on September 16, 2022, after Iran's morality police beat her because she was not wearing a head covering correctly, Iranian protestors took to the streets throughout the country. Footage showing thousands of protestors clashing with security forces have quickly made it to social media platforms under multiple hashtags. As the protests expanded and gained momentum, Arab intellectuals on social media expressed their disappointment in coverage of the protest by the Qatar-based and funded TV channel Al-Jazeera, which they accused of ignoring the protests, abandoning the protesters, and focusing on promoting the Iranian government's official narrative.

On September 20, Abd Al-Hadi Al-Shihri, a Saudi Twitter user with over 26,000 followers, tweeted under the hashtags "Iran rebelling" and "Mehsa Amini" saying: "Where is the Al-Jazeera channel on the protests that are taking place in Iran against the mullahs? Al-Jazeera and its anchors cover everything whether significant or not that take place in the Arab countries.[1]

On September 21, Nawwaf Al-Sulaiman, the programs manager at Safa TV tweeted: "I reviewed Al-Jazeera Breaking news account for an entire day and I did not find a single news item about the protests in Iran. What if these protests were in an Arabic country? Al-Jazeera would have published multiple breaking news [bulletins], relying on 'close and familiar sources' and 'exclusive reports.'"[2]

Analyzing Al-Jazeera's editorial policy regarding Iran, Syrian opposition writer Dr. Mahmoud Al-Shami, who has over 11,000 Twitter followers, commented on Al-Jazeera's breaking news headline quoting the Iranian president, saying: "The unprecedented oppressive sanctions against Iran are imposed on the Iranian people who yearn for freedom." Al-Shami wrote: "Al-Jazeera reports on everything regarding Iran except the protests and the crackdown by the mullahs' regime in Iran. This is not fair. You used to be described as the number one Arabic channel and you used to be highly credible but now your credibility has been lowered."[3]

Kuwaiti writer Ghazi Al-Nazel tweeted on September 22, asking: "Where is Al-Jazeera, which has always claimed to be the voice of nations, on what is taking place in Iran? Where is it today on the uprising in Iran? I think Iran is a red line for this channel if the issue is related to the mullahs' regime."[4]

While Al-Jazeera did not respond to the massive criticism it has received online, at least one of its anchors accused the UAE of playing a role in igniting the protest in Iran. On September 23, veteran Al-Jazeera anchor Jamal Rayyan tweeted: "There are a million exclamation marks regarding the role of the UAE in the protests that are taking place in Iran after it publicly normalized its relations with Israel and the moving of the Mossad office from Tel Aviv to Dubai."[5]

Rayyan defended the Iranian regime in a September 23 tweet, saying: "Despite being an enemy, [the Iranian regime] is a stabilizing element in the region and in the Gulf. Those who wish to see the West going to war against Iran while incited by Israel are delusional."[6] Furthermore, Rayyan described the protests in Iran as "fabricated" and "encouraged" by Israel. After taking down the initial tweet due to criticism, he wrote on September 25, "I did not know that I was an influencer until I was criticized by Israel's ministry of foreign affairs which sympathizes with the death of an Iranian woman and does not sympathize with the death of Shireen Abu Akleh. This proves the assumption that the protest in Iran is fabricated and Israel is the one encouraging it."[7]

Omani Twitter user Sultan_mq, who has over 11,000 followers, responded to Rayyan's tweet and accused Al-Jazeera of "promoting the narrative that the protests in Iran are a U.S. and Israeli conspiracy. Despite the fact that they are the leading supporter of revolutions in the region but when one took place in Iran, they opposed it and warned against it."[8]

In another tweet in response to Rayyan's tweet, Yemeni Twitter user and consultant at Al-Ghad Al-Moshriq TV channel accused Rayyan of trying to cover up the scandal that his channel ignored the protests in Iran. He then wrote: "Al-Jazeera has remained silent regarding a complete popular revolution in Iran."[9]

Comparing Al-Jazeera coverage of the Iran protests to its coverage of the protests of the Arab Spring in 2011, Yemeni journalist and researcher Nabeel Al-Soufi wrote: "Al-Jazeera heated up the people's sentiments in 2011 and today, it does not see what is happening in Iran and does not hear its people."[10]

Ghassan, a Saudi Twitter user with over 63,000 followers, tweeted: "In the past 24 hours, Al-Jazeera account on Twitter published only one report about the protests in Iran and it followed the narrative of the terrorist Revolutionary Guards of Iran (IRGC) that the protest is a conspiracy. Al-Jazeera cares only about Arab revolutions and cares less about the revolution against the turbans of terror in Iran."[11]

Fathy Abou Hatab, former general manager of the Egyptian daily Almasry Alyoum, published a series of tweets noting that he had monitored Al-Jazeera's website and noted that the protests news was ranked third on September 25. He later acknowledged that news about the protests have moved up compared to the previous day, however, he noted that "Al-Jazeera focuses on reflecting the official position of the government more than the position of the protesters. Al-Jazeera did not treat the protests in Iran with the same enthusiasm that it had with the Arab Spring protests."[12]

Syrian Twitter user Abu Omar Al-Shami attributed Al-Jazeera's soft coverage to Qatar's relation with the Iranian regime. He wrote: "The silence of Al-Jazeera channel regarding the events in Iran reveals the nature of the relationship between Qatar and the filthy mullahs' regime."[13]

Accusing Al-Jazeera of applying double standards in its coverage to the revolution in Iran compared to its coverage of events in Arab countries, Emirati imam and preacher Ahmed Mousa wrote: "A few months ago, a gas cylinder blew up in a kitchen in Abu Dhabi and Al-Jazeera reported about it to insinuate to people about a supposed lack of security. Today, in Iran there are dead and wounded people and there is blood, but Al-Jazeera remains silent and has gone deaf. This is how we learn that this channel specializes in sowing discord and in only attacking our countries"[14]

Some intellectuals went as far as accusing Al-Jazeera of focusing on igniting the Hindu-Muslim issue and on inciting Muslims against India in order to divert attention from the protests in Iran. Iraqi writer Sufian Samarrai tweeted on September 25: "Al-Jazeera is playing a dirty game to move Muslims feelings and divert attention from what is taking place in Iran, which includes oppression, killings, and dragging by the Khamenei gangs who pretend to be Muslims. It attempts to ignite the strife between Hindus and Muslims and mobilize Muslims in the streets against India instead of focusing on the shaking Safavid entity."[15]

 

[1] Twitter.com/Alshehri_dr1/status/1572360274824560641, September 20, 2022.

[2] Twitter.com/NawafSTV/status/1572503984992301057, September 21, 2022.

[3] Twitter.com/M_Shadi3/status/1572594133050560513, September 21, 2022.

[4] Twitter.com/bo_bder20/status/1572833936937476096, September 22, 2022.

[5] Twitter.com/jamalrayyan/status/1573448691071045671, September 23, 2022.

[6] Twitter.com/jamalrayyan/status/1573441817512939520, September 23, 2022.

[7] Twitter.com/jamalrayyan/status/1574064341871169544, September 25, 2022.

[8] Twitter.com/sultan_mq7/status/1573674781223927809, September 24, 2022.

[9] Twitter.com/anwaraltamimi71/status/1574021536683593729, September 26, 2022.

[10] Twitter.com/Nalsoufi16/status/1573553349273817089, September 24, 2022.

[11] Twitter.com/gassan_z/status/1574109843560038403, September 25, 2022.

[12] Twitter.com/fmhatab/status/1574015922502877184, September 25, 2022.

[13] Twitter.com/aboomer399/status/1573673714671132675, September 24, 2022.

[14] Twitter.com/AhmedMousa_1/status/1573422980234895378, September 23, 2022

[15] Twitter.com/SufianSamarrai/status/1574079719812775938, September 25, 2022.

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