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memri
July 12, 2013 No.
5360

Muslim Brotherhood Opponents And Al-Jazeera Employees Protest: The Channel Is Biased And Unprofessional

The Al-Jazeera channel's coverage of the events in Egypt surrounding Muhammad Mursi's ouster from power has in recent days sparked protest by channel employees and opponents of Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), who contend that the channel is clearly promoting the agenda of the deposed regime and behaving unprofessionally and non-objectively.

This tilt by the channel has many facets: continuous broadcasts of protest demonstrations by Mursi supporters at the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo, compared with the more limited coverage of the anti-Mursi demonstrations in Tahrir Square;[1] exclusive and continuous coverage from the headquarters of the Republican Guard on July 8, 2013, where dozens of MB supporters were killed by army gunfire when they tried to storm the headquarters where Mursi is being held, while repeatedly displaying pictures of the dead and calling the events "a massacre"; the vast majority of text messages from viewers that the channel runs as subtitles at the bottom of the screen convey support for the MB; an incident that the channel's correspondent provoked during an Egyptian army press conference on July 8, 2013, during which she attacked the army's behavior and was expelled from the auditorium by the other correspondents;[2] and claims raised in the Facebook account of one of the channel's presenters, Ahmad Mansouron, purporting that provisional president 'Adly Mansour is Jewish.[3]

Nevertheless, it should be noted that Al-Jazeera does not refrain from broadcasting press conferences held by members of the new Egyptian regime and by Egypt's army and security forces.

In recent days a number of Al-Jazeera employees have submitted their resignations to protest the tendentious coverage by the channel. Additionally, many of Mursi's opponents have called for closing Al-Jazeera, because in contrast to its support of the revolution against Mubarak in January 2011, the channel did not rally to the side of the "popular revolution" against the MB government. In the streets of Cairo and other cities throughout Egypt posters were hung condemning Al-Jazeera. Citizens trod on posters that bore portraits of the channel's broadcasters, or turned them into petitions to close the channel. Likewise, a legal suit was filed to close the channel. Campaigns were also launched on Facebook accusing Al-Jazeera of causing fitna (civil war) in Egypt. Magdi Al-Galad, the editor of the Egyptian daily Al-Watan, even launched a campaign to delete the Al-Jazeera channel from all satellite boxes. In the Egyptian press articles appeared accusing Al-Jazeera of favoring one side in the intra-Egyptian struggle while deliberately shunning the other side, although the channel's slogan is "the opinion and the other opinion." One of the articles even branded Al-Jazeera a Jewish channel that promotes the agenda of the U.S., Zionism, and the MB, while implementing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The studios of the channel Al-Jazeera Egypt Direct, another channel that belongs to the Al-Jazeera network that began broadcasting after the January 25, 2011 revolution and broadcasts exclusively in Egypt, were closed by the Egyptian army on July 3, 2013, soon after the Egyptian defense minister announced Mursi's ouster. Some of the channel's employees, including the channel's director, were briefly arrested on the charge that the channel was operating without a license.[4] Nevertheless, Al-Jazeera's broadcasts via satellite are continuing, without studio broadcasts from Egypt itself but with reports and telephone interviews.

This report will survey the protests against Al-Jazeera.

Al-Jazeera Employees Resign In Protest Over The Biased Coverage By The Channel

On July 8, 2013 a number of Al-Jazeera employees announced their resignations in protest over the channel's bias. They approached the channel's management in Qatar with the demand that it retract its editorial policy which favored the MB.[5] The journalist Fatma Nabil, known as the presenter with the hijab, said following her resignation: "[Injuring] the army constitutes a red line from my perspective, and I will not allow a mistake to be made on this score." She claimed that she resigned from Al-Jazeera and doesn't know if she'll ever be able to return to television because there are some people who identify her with the MB regime, since she wore a hijab while broadcasting. Nabil criticized the manner in which the channel covered the events of June 30 and the deliberate division of the screen into two – with a broadcast from Rabaa Al-Adawiya on the and a broadcast from Tahrir Square to the left. She expressed the opinion that the channel attempted to support and empower the pro-Mursi demonstrations, and added that during the months that she worked at Al-Jazeera, "we had the feeling that the channel is partisan in favor of political Islam, and in most cases selectivity is exercised in broadcasting the text messages [of the viewers] on the channel, and even more so in the selection of guests and interviewees."[6]


Presenter Fatma Nabil (Al-Wafd, Egypt, July 11, 2013.)

Calls In Egyptian Courts, On The Street, On Facebook, And In The Press To Shut Down Al-Jazeera

Egyptian attorney Rada Barkawi filed a suit in Administrative Court seeking to revoke the license and close the Al-Jazeera Direct Egypt channel, arguing that it was damaging national security and inciting the Mursi supporters to acts of violence and killing. She shared her opinion that the channel was working to foment chaos in Egypt, and described the June 30 revolution as a military coup. She added that since Mursi came to power, the channel had attacked his opponents and worked in his favor.[7]

At the same time, an outcry arose amongst Mursi's opponents against Al-Jazeera. In Cairo and other cities throughout Egypt, posters were hung condemning the channel. Citizens trod on posters bearing the pictures of the channel's broadcasters, and signed them as if they were petitions seeking Al-Jazeera's closure. A Facebook campaign was launched reiterating the same slogans. Below are pictures from the street protests in Egypt against Al-Jazeera.[8]

Additionally, the protest is being pushed by a number of Facebook pages calling for the closing of Al-Jazeera in Egypt and accusing the channel of sowing fitna (civil war) in the country. Below are pictures from the posts on Facebook against Al-Jazeera:


Street and Facebook campaign against Al-Jazeera: "A bullet may kill a person, but a lying camera kills [an entire] nation: beware of false news on the fitna channel that strives to disseminate violence and killing and cause Egypt's collapse" (.facebook.com/Scandals.of.AlJazeera.Channel, July 9, 2013.)

Another combined street and Facebook campaign features well-known Al-Jazeera presenter Ahmad Mansour in a composite picture with the pyramids in flames, and standing next to Israel Defense Forces soldiers.


"Al-Jazeera – the
fitna [civil war] and the other fitna[a parody on the channel's slogan 'The opinion and the other opinion']"; "Fitna producers, take your schemes and beat it!" (facebook.com/jazeera.Fetna/photos_stream#!/jazeera.Fetna, July 6, 2013)


Facebook page "Together For Closing The Al-Jazeera Direct Egypt[channel]"(
facebook.com/eljezira.misr,July 9, 2013.)


"Al-Hakeera [the pitiful]" (
facebook.com/intifadamasria,July 10, 2013.)

Joining the campaign was the editor of the Egyptian daily Al-Watan, MagdiAl-Galad, who launched a popular campaign, with the backing of his newspaper and his journalist colleagues, on satellite television stations and in the press, to remove Al-Jazeera from the home satellite boxes. He claimed that Al-Jazeera was operating in coordination with the intelligence apparatuses and with Western regimes to topple the army.[9]

Egyptian Columnist: The True Face Of Al-Jazeera Has Been Revealed

In the Egyptian press, a number of articles condemning Al-Jazeera appeared. For example, a columnist in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, Sayyid 'Abd Al-Maguid, wrote: "During the January 25 [2011 revolution], the camera of the television channel Al-Masriya [Egyptian state television that was still loyal to Mubarak] didn't find [content to broadcast] save for the surface of the eternal Nile, and this was presented to us, as if we were not familiar with it. In the distant corner of [the picture], groups of people appeared on the promenade, at the edges of Tahrir [Square], as if they were ghosts. At the same time the Qatari channel Al-Jazeera was in the thick of the fire, and although it broadcasts from a country that has no connection with democracy, it transmitted the cries of the oppressed who cursed the oppression and the oppressors. At the same time, it managed to issue a death certificate to the Maspero television [the building where Egyptian state television is headquartered in Cairo] …

"It is true that without [Al-Jazeera], and without other [television] networks with an even smaller viewership, the world would not have known what was happening in Egypt, [and it is true] that through them the simple Egyptians in [the provinces] and villages learned that a sweeping revolution was underway against tyranny and repression, which the young people were leading in the squares of Cairo, Suez, and Alexandria. But it appears [that Al-Jazeera was working] not on Allah's behalf and not in favor of liberty, and the proof of this is its paeans of praise over the rise of political Islam. Recently the small and wealthy country [Qatar] promised to wipe out the despicable innovations… that are called 'liberalism', 'enlightenment' and 'modernity'; may they be annihilated, and they can go, together with their propagators, to hell…

"However… last Sunday [June 30, 2013], the decisive day in the life of this great country, the Tamarrud [campaign] channeled a torrent of anger that was unprecedented in history, and the true face of the Al-Jazeera [channel] came to light: an opinion without another opinion,[10] one direction that does not have an opposing [direction],[11]and, most ironic, at the time that most of the people were irate about Mursi's last address [on July 2, 2013], the director [of the Al-Jazeera bureau in Cairo], Abd Al-Fattah [Fayed], began to praise him before his colleague Nouran [Sallam, an Egyptian journalist who works at the channel]…

"The question is: does this justify the attacks on [the channel] and its employees? Of course not… [Let the channel] say what it wants, because to put it plainly, [its conduct in the end result] obtains the opposite of what those in charge of [the channel] aspire to. As proof of this, throughout the entire year that the MB ruled, [the channel] ignored their acts of repression and even congratulated their rule, and the result was 3 million Egyptians in the streets."[12]

An Egyptian Columnist: Al-Jazeera - A Jewish Channel That Implements The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion

In an article titled "Al Jazeera A Jewish Idea Against The Egyptian Popular Will" that was published in the daily Al-Wafd, the columnist Hanan Abu Al-Diaa claims that Al-Jazeera is a Jewish channel that serves the United States, Zionism, and the MB, and was implementing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Abu Al-Diaa wrote: "The Al Jazeera channel is still [serving] as an agent of the Jews and the Americans, and is spreading its poison. It is clear to the eye… that [the channel] is implementing the Zionist plan against Egypt. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the channel is continuing to work against the popular will of the Egyptians and is disseminating lies regarding the popular support that the illegitimate president Muhammad Mursi enjoys… The broadcaster Kawthar Al-Bashrawi, who resigned from Al-Jazeera recently, unveiled the truth regarding the channel and those in charge of it: We're dealing with a counterfeit channel that does not do justice to liberty, and has no inkling of what constitutes neutrality and objectivity, and avoids accuracy. The channel was laid bare to all and its ugly and true countenance was revealed… This channel [that serves] as an agent is the main tool [for implementing] the program of the Elders of Zion; how can this not be the case? For it was [Al-Jazeera] that disseminated the ideas of the MB, defended them, and implemented directives from them in a total fashion… The MB went from the prisons to the seats of power, and the rise of the Islamists to power is one of the Zionists' dreams…"[13]

Endnotes:

[1] Until the announcement by General 'Abd Al-Fatah Al-Sisi about the ouster of Mursi, Al-Jazeera went to split-screen coverage. At the right of the screen was a broadcast from the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque, and on the left was a broadcast from Tahrir Square. After the announcement by Al-Sisi, the channel began to broadcast exclusively from Rabaa Al-Adawiya. A note of apology frequently appeared at the corner of the screen, explaining that the channel was not succeeding in broadcasting from Tahrir Square, but was attempting to do so. This occurred after the channel's correspondents were attacked by demonstrators in Cairo.

[3] Mansour wrote on his Facebook account: "To those who think that the new Egyptian president is a Muslim, here's the truth about the new Egyptian president. The new Egyptian president is from the Seventh Day Adventist sect, that is a Jewish sect that tried to draw close to Christianity but the Coptic Patriarch refused to baptize them… My congratulations to you, here is your Judeo-Christian government."facebook.com/pages/%D8%A7%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%AF-%D9%85%D9%86%D8%B5%D9%88%D8%B1-ahmed-mansour/305862772805037?hc_location=timeline, July 4, 2013. See also MEMRI Video Clip #3910 - Al-Jazeera TV Host Ahmad Mansour to Morsi Supporters: Our Revolution Was Hijacked by the Coup

[4] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 9, 2013.

[5]Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 9, 2013.

[6] Al-Quds Al-Arabi(Egypt), July 8, 2013.

[7] Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), July 9, 2013.

[8] Zamnpress.com; Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), July 7, 2013.

[9] Al-Watan (Egypt), July 8, 2013.

[10] An allusion to the channel's slogan "the opinion and the other opinion."

[11] An allusion to the channel's famous television program "The Opposite Direction,"moderated by Faisal Al-Qassem.

[12] Al-Ahram (Egypt), July 9, 2013.

[13] Al-Wafd (Egypt), July 4, 2013.