The UAE does not accept the UN's decision that freedom of expression trumps the closing of Qatar's Al Jazeera television channel.
United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash has accused Qatari broadcast network Al Jazeera of promoting antisemitism, supporting terrorist groups, and incitement to violence. Gargash made the remarks in a letter written Sunday and made public Wednesday on the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation's website. The four-page letter was addressed to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, as a rebuttal to the UN Special Rapporteur's statement on June 30, that recent demands to close Al Jazeera breached rights of freedom of expression.Gargash defended demands to close the network by explaining that, "Freedom of expression cannot be used to justify and shield the promotion of extremist narratives." He also added that, "It is the international community’s responsibility to remain vigilant as the media and new technologies are being exploited by terrorists and their supporters to disseminate extremist ideologies, as well as mobilizing, recruiting, inspiring followers, and raising funding." The UAE minister further stated that, “Al Jazeera is a platform for spreading terrorist ideology,” by conducting interviews with leaders of various terror organizations such as Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki of al-Qaida, Khaled Mashal and Mohammed Deif of Hamas, and Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah. Gargash also accused Al Jazeera of promoting antisemitic violence in its programming, citing comments by Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi in one of his broadcast sermons on the Qatar-based network. According to Gargash, Qaradawi “described the Holocaust as ‘divine punishment’ during which ‘Hitler… put [the Jews] in their place.’”This comes after the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Maldives and Egypt cut ties with Qatar in early June, including the state-funded satellite television network. Reports that Israel was considering shutting down Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem office also surfaced in June. Click here for the full letter.