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07/11/2013

"Airing lies" - Al Jazeera journalists resign in protest

 

Al-Jazeera YouTube video reports on the arrest of its staff members by the Egyptian military.

 

As many as 22 journalists have resigned from  Al Jazeera in protest over what they say is the influential Arab network's alleged pro-Muslim Brotherhood bias, according to reports from rival media outlets in the Middle East.

The Gulf News website reported  that Karem Mahmoud, the anchor of Al Jazeera's Egyptian station, announced that the staff quit because of  “biased coverage” of the events in the country, where a military coup last week drove the Muslim Brotherhood and its elected president from power.

“I felt that there were errors in the way the coverage was done, especially that now in Egypt we are going through a critical phase," Mahmoud told another rival network, Al Arabiya.

 Al-Arabiya quoted Al Jazeera correspondent Haggag Salama, who accused the station of “airing lies and misleading viewers"  and said that four Egyptian members of editorial staff at the network’s headquarters in Qatar had resigned as well.

Some other media reports put the number of departing journalists at only seven.

In a statement on its press website, Al Jazeera acknowledged “some Al Jazeera ... staff have decided to leave" but blamed them for holding "partisan political opinions,” according to Al- Arabiya.

It is no secret that Al-Jazeera's owners, the royal family of the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, have been vocal supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi and his Brotherhood party.

That has led to a backlash against the network by the Egyptian military and repression against its journalists in recent days.

The army raided Al Jazeera's offices and arrested its news director.  and arrested other staff members. Al Jazeera complained that as many as 28 of its staff in Cairo were detained.

The  tensions appear to have spread to fellow journalists.

The Associated Press reported  last week that reporters from Al Jazeera were unceremoniously kicked out of a military news conference held in the wake of the army's shooting of pro-Morsi supporters. One journalist demanded the Al-Jazeera people leave and they departed to the chants of "Out! Out!" from the other reporters.

The embarassing resignations from Al Jazeera come as its English-language  network is about to gain "an important foothold in the United States," the  Washington Post reports.

(The network has been available on Canada on the three major cable providers since 2010.)

Al-Jazeera America will debut next month in about 50 million cable homes in the U.S., with several high-profile American journalists including former Soledad O’Brien, the former CNN host and reporter.

________
 

 Julian Sher is a foreign affairs and investigative reporter for the Star and can be reached at jsher@thestar.ca and on Twitter @juliansher. 




 

 


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