In the latest sign of the growing rift between the Saudi-led Gulf states and Qatar, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates blasted Qatar’s Al-Jazeera network on Wednesday for promoting anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister for foreign affairs, charged that Al-Jazeera “promoted anti-Semitic violence by broadcasting sermons by the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi,” Agence France-Presse reported.
Qaradawi had also “praised Hitler, described the Holocaust as ‘divine punishment,’ and called on Allah to ‘take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people… and kill them, down to the very last one,’” Gargash added.
Gargash’s criticism of the Qatari network came in a letter responding to charges by the United Nations that the Saudi-led effort to shut down Al-Jazeera violates press freedom.
David Kaye, the UN’s special rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion, said that shutting down Al-Jazeera “would be a major blow against media pluralism.” The Middle East is “already suffering from severe restrictions on reporting and media,” he added.
But Gargash responded that “Freedom of expression cannot be used to justify and shield the promotion of extremist narratives,” claiming that “Al Jazeera is a platform for spreading terrorist ideology.”
Gargash’s letter referred to the broadcasting of an infamous sermon by Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi on Al-Jazeera in 2009. Al-Qaradawi addressed his message “to the aggressor Jews, those arrogant plunderers, who act arrogantly toward the servants of Allah in the land of Allah.” Al-Qaradhawi referred to Jews as treacherous and cunning, while calling on Allah to kill them all. “Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one,” Al-Qaradhawi said.
This is not the first time Al-Jazeera has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism. “There is no doubt that anti-Semitism is woven into the fabric of Al Jazeera’s Arabic reporting,” Erik Nisbet, a professor of Arabic media at Ohio State University, said in 2011. Nisbet went on to compare Al-Jazeera’s reporting to “an American channel giving airtime to the Ku Klux Klan.”
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission noted in 2004 that Al-Jazeera host Faisal Al-Qassam frequently made anti-Semitic remarks on his weekly show, with one episode titled, “Is Zionism worse than Nazism.” Al-Qassam referred to Jews as “apes and pigs,” and recommended that the U.S. “get rid” of its Jews. The Commission quoted Al-Qassam as saying, “God will not be deterred unless there is a true holocaust that will exterminate all of [the Jews] at once.”
A guest on Al-Qassam’s show, Saudi cleric Abdallah Bib Matruk Al-Haddal, said that the September 11th attacks were “a continuation of an ancient attack. It is a continuation of the Jewish deception and the Jewish-Zionist wickedness.” Al-Haddal concluded that “Jewish fingerprints have infiltrated the U.S., Jewish evil and deception are those who attacked the U.S.” The claim that Jews are responsible for the September 11th attacks is a widely debunked anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.
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