Media / Watchdog
Saturday, 01 Jul 2017 15:08 EATakipchumba@kenyafreepress.com
In a statement released on Thursday this week, the Journalist Associations in Norway namely: the Norwegian Press Association, the Norwegian Union of Journalists and Association of Norwegian Editors have passionately and strongly lashed out and criticized the Saudi-led fervent campaign championing for the closure of Al Jazeera networks and by extension other regional outlets.
These concerted calls for the shutting down of the Arab world’s leading channel dominated the debates in the Middle-East amidst a screaming Gulf diplomatic crisis. A number of news organizations and trade groups across the sphere have declared their support for the Qatari-funded station which is now at the epicenter of the clash pitting Qatar against its super-rich neighbor, Saudi Arabia.
The three Norway-based Associations said in a statement sent to Al Jazeera news channel: “The signatory associations strongly encourage the authorities of Saudi Arabia to respect that media, editors and journalists every day make an important contribution of keeping the people in the Arab countries and in the rest of the world informed of what is happening.”
According to Al Jazeera, the groups voiced their strong disappointment over what they described as “an attack on one of the key human rights” and requested that “freedom of expression and freedom of press” is respected. They further went on to say, “We emphasize the middle East, as the rest of the world, needs media companies to report news and current events, and give public information and background analysis on what, when , how and why they occur.”
The same irked and miffed group added, “A ban on any media outlet is an outrageous attempt to censure the public debate. In a conflicted world, freedom of press is more important than ever.”
Other voices that have come out guns blazing in strong condemnation of efforts to pressure Doha into shutting down Al Jazeera includes The Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, The New York Times Editorial Board and The Guardian.
The UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion, Mr David Kaye, has added to the pile those who have rubbished the demands to close Al Jazeera, according to Reuters.
Mr Giles Trendle, the acting managing director of Al Jazeera’s English-language service was quoted by the AFP Saying, “We’re stunned by the demand to close Al Jazeera…Of course there has been talk about it in the past but it’s still a great shock and surprise to actually see it in writing. It’s as absurd as it would be for Germany to demand Britain to close the BBC.”
Mr Giles Trendle kept on saying that Al Jazeera “is going to continue with its editorial mission of covering the world news in a fair and balanced way.”
It is worth noting that Al Jazeera has, at its dawn distinguished itself with daring and bold reporting, simmering and fire-sparking debates and unforgiving covering of autocrats, save its Qatari hosts.
According to The Economist, what irritates and irks the Arab countries to the roots of their existence is; how Qatar has used Al Jazeera to wield outsize influence in the region.
Kipchumba is a staff writer/columnist at the Kenya Free Press