With all the outpouring of support for jailed Aussie journalist Peter Greste, we tend to have lost sight of the reality, especially when the media laud him as a martyr for press freedom. Consider this editorial in The Age:
It has now been one year since Australian Peter Greste and fellow al-Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were arrested and thrown into Egyptian jails for doing their jobs – reporting the news. In that time they have galvanised the world’s media as symbols of the thousands of journalists who risk their freedom and even their lives to bring us the stories they believe we need to hear.
As Greste wrote from jail:
“We… have created a huge global awareness of not just our cause, but the far wider and more vital issues of press freedom, the persecution of journalists, and of justice in Egypt. But, even more than that, we have reignited public discussion and awareness of the vital role that unfettered journalism plays in any healthy, functioning democracy. Never has cleared-eyed, critical, sceptical journalism been more necessary.”
At The Age we continually strive to uphold such lofty ambitions, and we praise journalists everywhere committed to presenting news “without fear or favour”.
Reporting without fear or favour should be the aim of all media. But let’s just look at whom Greste (and Sir David Frost before him) were writing for – Qatar’s TV channel, Al-Jazeera, where:
“journalists are subject to prosecution for criticizing the Qatari government, the ruling family, or Islam…
All publications are subject to government licensing. The government, the Qatar Radio and Television Corporation, and customs officers are authorized to censor domestic and foreign publications and broadcast media for religious, political, and sexual content prior to distribution. Online content is censored through the country’s sole internet service provider, which is state owned…and blocks material deemed inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political, and moral values of the country.
Qatar has seven newspapers, all of which are owned by members of the ruling family or their business associates. The state owns and operates all broadcast media, and there are only two television networks in the country, Qatar TV and Al-Jazeera… The concentration of media ownership within the ruling family and the high financial costs and citizenship requirements for obtaining media licenses continue to hinder the expansion and freedom of the press.
So this is the country whose media outlet Greste chose to work for, while claiming that he favours
“unfettered…cleared-eyed, critical, sceptical journalism” in a “healthy, functioning democracy”.
There is no free press in Qatar, where everything is controlled by the Emir and his cohorts, and which is an oligarchy rather than a healthy democracy.
Has it escaped Western journalists’ notice that Qatar has long been the main supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, its offshoot Hamas and even Islamic State? Egypt has accused Al-Jazeera of spreading MB propaganda – which is why its three journalists were convicted. There is no doubt Egyptian authorities have cracked down ruthlessly on the MB, many of whose senior members have found refuge in Qatar, but let’s face it, MB are terrorists, whose motto is
“Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”
While Qatar poses as an ally of the West, and is treated as such by much of the media, there has been growing awareness of their terrorist proclivities. The UK Telegraph reported:
Qatar… is now the focus of growing disquiet over its links to the financing of jihadists fighting for both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
A US Treasury blacklist of designated terrorists identifies at least seven extremists with connections to Qatar, but the UK Treasury’s list contains just one.
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith called for a rethink of Britain’s relationship with Qatar.
“Here in the UK, we do big business with our ally Qatar, including in arms, and yet there are countless reports…of that country’s government actively courting key bankrollers of al-Qaeda and Isil.
Its record of cooperating in counter-terrorism has, according to Hillary Clinton, been among the worst of any country…If we are serious about countering groups like Isil, we need to fundamentally rethink the nature of our relationship with the countries that fuel them.”
Jyllands-Posten, in The Terror-Funding Roads That Pass Through Qatar, wrote:
The role of Qatar as a hub of terror financing is becoming more and more widely publicized as the Islamic State advances on Kobani and Baghdad.
Qatar is under growing international pressure because of millions of terror dollars allegedly being pumped into the Islamic State and other radical Islamist movements from offices in the wealthy emirate… Huge amounts from generous supporters and ransom laundered by the small oil state are channeled, disguised as humanitarian charity, to terrorist movements such as Islamic State…
According to the Americans and the British, money from Qatar is not only going to Islamic State, but also to an al-Qaeda branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Gaza…
Qatar is unquestionably engaged in international terrorist financing. According to the U.S. Treasury’s division for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence,
“Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas.”
Qatar aids Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Jabhat al Nusra, al-Qaeda affiliates, Libyan Islamists, and even ISIS.
Qatar provided a base from which Khaled Mashaal could run Hamas operations.
Qatar’s outreach to Islamist movements has been extensive. The most important Islamist connection for Qatar is the Muslim Brotherhood…The key player in the Qatari link has been Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. the most important spiritual authority in the international Muslim Brotherhood movement…including its Palestinian branch, Hamas. Through his fatwas, he supported Hamas suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians…
…Qatar used its ownership of the al-Jazeera satellite network to promote the Muslim Brotherhood
…Qaradawi was given a regular television program on al-Jazeera which he used to promote Muslim Brotherhood ideology and reach tens of millions of Sunni Muslims… al-Jazeera appeared to sympathize with ISIS when it ridiculed the beheadings of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Satloff as a “Hollywood show” that was being used as a pretext for military intervention in Syria.
In 2012, the former Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani became the first head of state to visit the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. He pledged $400 million to Hamas… The commitment of Qatar to its Hamas ties was demonstrated in a statement made by Sheikh Tamim in a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas on August 21, 2014:
“The U.S. and the Arabs are angry at us for hosting Hamas, but I say it is an honor for us”
Given this Qatari attitude, it should come as no surprise that the Emir is planning to resume his financial assistance to Hamas after Operation Protective Edge … even before the war ended … On August 8, the Qatari Red Crescent raised more than $10 million at an event at which a Hamas leader, Hussam Badran, appeared and spoke. In December 2013, Badran used his Twitter account to support bombing attacks in Tel Aviv…
The evidence of Qatar’s involvement in terror finance is overwhelming; it’s the leading state sponsor of Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of the State of Israel, and it uses the al-Jazeera satellite network to promote the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet this seems to have escaped Fairfax Middle East Correspondent and veteran Israel-basher, Ruth Pollard, who writes:
All around him, in the sprawling Tora Prison complex in which he and his two al-Jazeera colleagues are held… remarkable human rights lawyers, activists, students and journalists bide their time in crowded cells.
Some, like Greste, 49, his bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy, 40, and producer Baher Mohamed, 31, have already been sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison.
The charges, dismissed by legal experts and human rights groups as politically motivated and lacking evidence to support them, include broadcasting false news and aiding a “terrorist organisation” (the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood).
…Human rights monitors say the prison population has grown by at least 16,000 since the military ousted the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood-led government in July 2013.
… this past year in Egypt’s courts has been marked by what observers describe as politically driven trials aimed at crippling the Brotherhood and its supporters, including Qatar, the owners of al-Jazeera.
… Through it all the Jazeera journalists have worked tirelessly to raise their voices for media freedom in Egypt and around the world.
“We – and by that I mean all involved in this fight for justice…have created a huge global awareness of not just our cause, but the far wider and more vital issues of press freedom, the persecution of journalists, and of justice in Egypt,” Greste wrote from prison
“Everyone, from US President Barack Obama to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, has been speaking out both publicly and in private to demand our release and call for a free press in Egypt.”
Sir David Frost also worked for Al-Jazeera until his death in 2013. He was a British journalist and media personality who rose to fame in the 1960’s hosting TV programs like That Was the Week That Was and The Frost Report (1966-1967), The David Frost Show (1969-1972) and Frost on Sunday (1983-1992).
He conducted many interviews, including his most famous one with Nixon, interviewing six British prime ministers and seven U.S. presidents, as well as countless Hollywood celebrities. He was a national icon and a man of many talents, capping his stellar career by being awarded a knighthood in 1993.
Despite his wealth and fame, he began working for Al Jazeera English in 2006, interviewing political figures such as President George Bush and Tony Blair and celebrities including George Clooney. In July 2013, he launched The Frost Program on Al Jazeera.
There is no doubt that Sir David Frost was multi-talented and had deservedly achieved fame and fortune.
Which raises the question: why did he choose to work for Qatar’s Al Jazeera?
Was he aware of Qatar’s links with terror, and if so, did it prick his conscience?
We shall never know the answer to this, but it’s sad that such a giant media personality should either knowingly or blindly choose to legitimize this terror-financing country.
Mordechai Ben-Menachem pulls no punches in summing up Qatar:
WikiLeaks documents prove that the United States has known for quite some time (years) that the fictitious pseudo-state of Qatar bankrolls Hamas as part of the Muslim Brotherhood. While Iran is the world’s major facilitator of terror, Qatar is their bank.
Qatar is a feudal mini-state whose population is rife with slaves and eunuchs (camel jockeys, for racing, are best when they are made eunuchs – castrated – as young boys). Most of them are bought in the slave markets of East Africa.
This abomination of a country has been ruled by the Al Thani family for almost 200 years. Among other things, the family owns and controls the Al Jazeera Media Network.
Qatar is the banker to the world of terror – Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Boko Haram and more. They tend to pay more attention to Sunni organizations than to Shia. I say “more attention” but they have no problem funding Hezbollah and Syria, as well, just more quietly.
In terms of the present conflict between Gaza and Israel, Qatar is the problem and not the solution. They create the situation, they encourage the situation and they make a point of forcing Hamas to continue. They have a part in every instance of breaks in the ceasefire (11 of them, so far).
By the way, this is not new. Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the 11 September 2001 attacks, lived in Qatar since 1992. Ramzi Yousef, initiator of the attack, was Mohammed’s nephew. In a US embassy report of 24 March 2009, Qatar is fixed as a main transit port for illicit goods (weapons, drugs, stolen goods)… Numerous US State dispatches emphasize continuously that the US Administration clearly knew and know of Qatar’s involvement in funding terrorism. They consciously choose to ignore this and do nothing.
With their Al Jazeera network, one might assume they would be somewhat sympathetic to journalism. However, we now know that the Foreign Press Association contentions that journalists are routinely threatened in Gaza and forced to report what Hamas wants, is heavily supported by Al Jazeera/Qatar.
Qatar has long played a double game – funding terrorist groups while posing as an ally of the Western world. As a result, it’s fair to say that, while we are not at war with this shitty little country (to copy a phrase used by Daniel Bernard about Israel when French Ambassador to the UK), they are certainly at war with us.
So by choosing to work for Al-Jazeera, which promotes the MB, Greste legitimises the barbaric aims of this terrorist regime, which works against democratic norms and press freedom.
I agree with Rabbi Elozer Gestetner who wrote movingly in the aftermath of the brutal murder of three Israeli boys, Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar.
We are struggling with an adversary who seems to have vastly different cultural values of life, morals and the sheer beauty of the human spirit. I do not accept that it is only the minority. It is not. Leaders of the Arab world are silent on human kidnapping; this is not the first time that there has been a kidnapping.
Peter Greste was a journalist for the Al Jazeera World News Network Service. The network presented a balanced view on the kidnapping, essentially blaming the victims…
Al Jazeera is a news service that does not under any circumstance permit a positive spin towards anything in Israel. It is a news service that institutionalizes censorship in its presentation of the news…
I am not about to judge Peter Greste…he was however part of that media pack who remained silent and allowed Israel to feel alone. He aided and abetted in the excommunication of Israel and it being portrayed as a pariah state in exile, alone and friendless.
… I don’t wish Peter Greste any evil…but what did he expect when working and reporting for Al Jazeera; because what he reports and witnesses now from his prison cell is exactly what he reported about Israel from the comfort of his news-studio…
Now I am not suggesting that Greste and Frost were traitors. They were not, as technically we are not at war with Qatar. But morally, one has to ask what is the difference between them and William Joyce (aka Lord Haw-Haw), who broadcast Nazi propaganda to the UK during World War II in order to demoralize the Allied troops and the British population. Surely working with the enemy – because that’s what Qatar is – amounts to betraying the principles of democracy, including a free press and human rights, which Greste claims to uphold.