Al Jazeera controversies and criticism

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Al Jazeera, owned by the government of Qatar, is currently one of the largest news organizations in the world, with 80 bureaus around the globe, which produce extensive news coverage online and via TV channels in a number of languages, including Arabic and English. Al Jazeera also produces in-depth documentaries on current issues around the world. While Al Jazeera has a large audience around the world and especially in the Middle East, the organization and the original Arabic channel in particular have sometimes been criticized and have been involved in several controversies.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Allegations of antisemitism[edit]

An article in the American Journalism Review noted that critics of Al Jazeera have "assailed what they see as anti-Semitic, anti-American bias in the channel's news content."[7] An example cited from earlier years was a report in Al Jazeera that Jews had been informed in advance not to go to work on the day of the September 11 attacks, which was criticized by an October 2001 editorial in The New York Times. An often-repeated example involves an on-air birthday party organized by Al Jazeera's Beirut bureau chief for a Lebanese militant convicted of killing four Israelis, including a four-year-old girl. Al Jazeera greeted Samir Kuntar, released in a July 2008 prisoner swap, as a hero. A more recent example given by the article is the now defunct weekly show "Sharia and Life" by Yusuf Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric who, according to a February 2011 article in The Atlantic, "argues clearly and consistently that hatred of Israel and Jews is Islamically sanctioned."[7][8] Subsequently, the Al Jazeera television station admitted that its coverage of Israel's release of convicted Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar violated the station's own code of ethics.[9]

Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly has criticized Al Jazeera for being "anti-Semitic" and "anti-American".[10] In response, Dave Marash, a veteran correspondent for ABC's Nightline who resigned from his position as Washington anchor for Al Jazeera English in 2008 due to a perception of anti-American bias,[11] appeared on the O'Reilly Factor and asserted, "They certainly aren't anti-Semitic, but they are anti-Netanyahu and anti-Lieberman and anti-Israeli, right...."[7][12]

On May 30, 2017 a tweet from the network's official English account [13] was accompanied by an antisemitic meme[14] that sparked controversy and was consequently removed.[15] The Network tweeted an apology following the incident, dubbing it a "mistake."[16] Moreover, in the run-up to the 2016 elections in France, Al Jazeera published an article criticizing candidate Marine Le Pen for her party's anti-semitic leanings.[17]

Allegations of bias[edit]

Al Jazeera has been criticized for being state media owned by Qatar.[1][18][19][20][21][22] In 2010, United States Department of State internal communications, released by WikiLeaks as part of the 2010 diplomatic cables leak, claim that the Qatar government manipulates Al Jazeera coverage to suit political interests.[23][24][25][26][27][28]

Al Jazeera's Shia Beirut correspondent Ali Hashem resigned from Al Jazeera after leaked e-mails shows his discontent over the outlet's "unprofessional" and biased coverage of the Syrian civil war in light of the Bahraini protests of 2011, which was not given the prominence of the Syrian conflict on the network,[29][30] one side of the conflict which was partly funded by the state of Qatar, who also fund Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera has also been accused of spreading Hinduphobia and dropping neutrality in favor of an anti-India stance in reports relating to India.[31]

Al Jazeera's long-time Berlin correspondent Aktham Suliman left in late 2012 "It wasn't just because the broadcaster seemed less interested in reports from Europe. Rather, Suliman had the feeling that he was no longer being allowed to work as an independent journalist. "Before the beginning of the Arab Spring, we were a voice for change," he says, "a platform for critics and political activists throughout the region. Now, Al-Jazeera has become a propaganda broadcaster." "Al-Jazeera takes a clear position in every country from which it reports -- not based on journalistic priorities, but rather on the interests of the Foreign Ministry of Qatar," he says. "In order to maintain my integrity as a reporter, I had to quit.""[2] [32] He writes, "The news channel Al Jazeera was committed to the truth. Now it is bent. It's about politics, not journalism. For the reporter that means: time to go. [...] The decline 2004-2011 was insidious, subliminal and very slow, but with a disastrous end."[33]

Walid Phares indicated that the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera television network became the “primary ideological and communication network” for the Muslim Brotherhood during the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria in 2011.[34] He noted that after democratic forces had initiated the rebellions, Al Jazeera played a “tremendous role”[34] in supporting the Islamist elements of the revolution.

Al Jazeera has lost former staff members over a number of reasons. Reporters and anchors, particularly in cities like London, Paris, Moscow, Beirut and Cairo have left Al-Jazeera.[2][35][36] Among the largest walk-offs, was that of 22 members of Al Jazeera's Egyptian bureau. The group announced their resignation on July 8, 2013, citing biased coverage of the ongoing Egyptian power redistribution in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood.[37][38][39][40][41][42]

During the visit of the official Qatari delegation to the 2017 UN General Assembly, anonymous critics purchased US social media ad space that pointed to articles labeling Al Jazeera as a "state-run propaganda arm,"[43] ostensibly in relation to the broader 2017 Qatar diplomatic crisis.

Satellite disruption[edit]

During the 2010 FIFA World Cup opening game, Al Jazeera Sports' transmission in the Arab world went down without explanation in the first half, while the second half transmission was patchy. Al Jazeera and FIFA said they were working to figure out the cause of the disruption to Al Jazeera's official broadcasting rights.[44] The British newspaper The Guardian reported that evidence points toward jamming by the Jordanian government.[45]

In Geopolitics[edit]

Israel-Palestinian Conflict[edit]

As a major news outlet in the Middle East, Al Jazeera's editorial positions are often subject to increased levels of scrutiny.

During the Second Intifada Palestinians killed by Israelis were referred to as 'martyrs' while Israelis killed by Palestinians were not.[46]

On the 2008 release in an Israel-Hezbollah deal of Samir Kuntar, who had murdered Four Israelis in 1979, including a 4-year-old girl, Al Jazeera Arabic threw him a party: "Brother Samir, we wish to celebrate your birthday with you," crowed the station's Beirut bureau chief, hailing Kuntar as a "pan-Arab hero."[47][48]

On 13 March 2008, Israel announced a "boycott" of the Arabic broadcaster al-Jazeera, accusing it of bias particularly during coverage of the conflict in the Gaza Strip and of slanted coverage favoring Hamas. Ministers will refuse to do interviews and according to some reports, will deny visa applications from its staff. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Majali Wahbe accused the Qatari-owned station of prioritizing/focusing exclusively on Palestinian suffering, and ignoring Israeli suffering. "We have seen that Al-Jazeera has become part of Hamas ... taking sides and cooperating with people who are enemies of the state of Israel," said Wahbe, a Druze Arab. "The moment a station like Al-Jazeera gives unreliable reports, represents only one side, and doesn't present the positions of the other side, why should we cooperate?", adding: "These reports are untrustworthy and they hurt us, and they arouse people to terrorist activities." Israeli officials backed their claim by saying al-Jazeera had covered the Gaza incursion but not the Palestinian rocket attacks against the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Wahabi said that the Israeli Foreign Ministry would send letters of complaint to the government of Qatar and Al Jazeera. Officials of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party also accuse al-Jazeera of being biased in favour of Hamas, with which it is at political loggerheads, and prominent Fatah official and former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan has organized a lawsuit against the broadcaster.[49][50][51][52] Al-Jazeera eventually agreed to discuss coverage of Mideast conflict,[53] and the issue was apparently settled.

In February 2009, Israel again imposed sanctions on Al Jazeera after Qatar closed the Israeli trade office in Doha in protest to the Gaza War. Initially, Israel contemplated declaring Al Jazeera a hostile entity and shutting down its Israel offices, but after a legal review, the Israeli government decided instead to impose limited measures to restrict Al Jazeera's activities in the country. All Al Jazeera employees would not have their visas renewed, and the Israeli government would issue no new visas. Al Jazeera staff would also not be allowed to attend government briefings and reduced access to government and military offices or interview Knesset members. The station would only be allowed access to three official spokespersons: The Prime Minister's Office, the Foreign Ministry, and the IDF Spokesperson's Unit.[54]

On 15 July 2009, the Palestinian National Authority closed down Al Jazeera's offices in the West Bank, apparently in response to claims made on the channel by Farouk Kaddoumi that PA President Mahmoud Abbas had been involved in the death of Yasser Arafat. In a statement announcing the decision, the Palestinian Information Ministry said the station's coverage was "unbalanced" and accused it of incitement against the PLO and the PA.[55]

On 19 July 2009, President Abbas rescinded the ban and allowed Al Jazeera to resume operations.[56]

In August 2011, Samer Allawi, Al Jazeera's Afghanistan bureau chief, was arrested by Israeli authorities on charges of being a member of Hamas. Walied Al-Omary, Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Israel and the Palestinian territories, said the military court accused Allawi of making contact with members of Hamas's armed wing.[57] A co-leader of The Committee to Protect Journalists said "Israel must clarify why it continues to hold Samer Allawi."[58][59] Allawi was held in prison over a month, he was charged $1400 fine after pleading guilty to having met with Hamas, a militant group seen as a terrorist group by Israel and most of the West.[60][61][62][63][64][65][66]

2018 pitch fixing scandal in cricket[edit]

Al Jazeera was instrumental in revealing the untold incident about the pitch fixing and pitch tampering controversies which happened both in Sri Lanka and India but covering the pitch-fixing charges which occurred mainly in Sri Lanka's Galle International Stadium. Al Jazeera's documentary titled, Cricket's Match-Fixers portrayed the secret plans of the match fixers who were willing to engage in match fixing considering on the 1st test which is scheduled to be held in Galle during the upcoming test series between England and Sri Lanka in November 2018.[67] The Al Jazeera Investigation Unit stated that the curator of Galle Cricket Stadium helped the bookmakers to fix test matches in Galle by changing the conditions of the pitch to suit the fixers. Al Jazeera explained that the last 2 test matches (Sri Lanka v Australia in 2016 & India v Sri Lanka in 2017) which were played in Galle were reported to have fixed by bookmakers and claimed that the fixers were noticed to have given bribes to the groundsman at Galle.[68] The news report also revealed that the bookmakers who were identified as the suspects including former Indian professional domestic cricketer Robin Morris, former Pakistani domestic cricketer Hasan Raza and former Sri Lankan cricketer Tharindu Mendis were reported to be filmed secretly by an Al Jazeera reporter in UAE who were discussing on the past match fixing experience and fixing matches in the future.

By country[edit]

Algeria[edit]

On 27 January 1999, several Algerian cities lost power simultaneously, reportedly to keep residents from watching a program in which Algerian dissidents implicated the Algerian military in a series of massacres.[69][70][71]

On 4 July 2004, the Algerian government froze the activities of Al Jazeera's Algerian correspondent. The official reason given was that a reorganization of the work of foreign correspondents was in progress. The international pressure group Reporters Without Borders says, however, that the measure was really taken in reprisal for a broadcast the previous week of another Al-Itijah al-Mouakiss debate on the political situation in Algeria.[72]

Bahrain[edit]

The Bahraini Information Minister, Nabeel bin Yaqub Al-Hamar, banned Al Jazeera correspondents from reporting from inside the country on 10 May 2002, saying that the station was biased towards Israel and against Bahrain.[73] After improvements in relations between Bahrain and Qatar in 2004, Al Jazeera correspondents returned to Bahrain. In 2010, the Information Ministry again banned Al Jazeera correspondents from reporting inside the country. The ministry accused the network of "flouting [Bahrain's] laws regulating the press and publishing" after Al Jazeera aired a report on poverty in Bahrain.[74]

During his visit to Egypt in November 2011, Nabeel Rajab, the president of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, criticized Al Jazeera's coverage of the 2011 protests, saying that it represents an Arabic double standard. Rajab commented, "Al Jazeera's intentional ignoring for coverage of Bahrain protests makes me strongly believe that we need channels that are sponsored by people rather than by regimes".[75]

Egypt[edit]

Al Jazeera has been criticized by an Egyptian newspaper for its allegedly biased coverage of news that are related to Egypt and its government, and they argue that these "continuous attacks against Egypt is to destroy Egypt’s image in the region".[76][77][78] In addition, Al Jazeera has filed a lawsuit against the Egyptian al-Ahram newspaper for an article posted on 9 June 2010 named "Jazeerat al-Taharoush" ("Al Jazeera: An Island of Harassment"), which Al Jazeera finds to be "wholly deceptive and journalistically unprofessional" with an aim to "damage the reputation of the Al Jazeera Network".[79][80] The Egyptian regime would later collapse as a result of the Arab Spring.[81][82]

22 members of staff of Al Jazeera's Egyptian bureau announced their resignation on July 8, 2013, citing "biased" coverage of the ongoing Egyptian power redistribution in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood.[37][38][39][40][41][42]

In September 2013, a court in Cairo ordered Al Jazeera to stop broadcasting in Egypt, claiming it was "inciting violence that led to the deaths of Egyptians."[83]

On December 29, 2013, three journalists working for the Qatari-based international news channel Al Jazeera English, Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed were taken into custody by Egyptian security forces at the Marriott Hotel in Cairo.[84]

On June 23, 2014 after a 4-month trial, all three were found guilty of spreading false news and collaborating with the banned Muslim Brotherhood and they were sentenced between 7 and 10 years imprisonment.[85][86] All were released on bail shortly afterwards [87] and Mohamed Fahmy sue Al Jazeera for $100 million Canadian dollars ($83m; £53m) in punitive and remedial damages for alleged negligence and breach of contract on 5 May 2015. He accused the network of "negligence" by misinforming him about its legal status and their safety in Egypt.[88][89]

The three were pardoned on September 23, 2015 and released.

In May 2017, Egypt has blocked 21 websites including Al-Jazeera and Masr AlArabiya for allegedly supporting terrorism and spreading fake news. The websites were blocked for allegedly supporting the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.[90]

India[edit]

The Indian government banned the Al Jazeera TV channel in April 2015 for five telecast days as it repeatedly displayed disputed maps of India. The Surveyor General of India (SGI) had observed that in some of the maps displayed by Al Jazeera, "a portion of Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir (i.e. PoK and Aksai Chin) has not been shown as a part of Indian territory."

The SGI asserted that it was outrageous that the channel also did not show Lakshadweep and Andaman Islands as Indian territories in some of the maps. The SGI also said that the maps were not in accordance with the Survey of India copyright map and is also against the National Map policy, 2005 and map restriction policy issued by Ministry of Defence from time to time. The Ministry of External Affairs also pointed out similar airing of a wrong map by the channel.

In their reply to a Show Cause Notice, Al Jazeera said that all maps that are displayed by them are generated by an internationally known software used by Global News Providers. The channel also added that it takes the Indian government's concerns about maps very seriously and accordingly reviews all its India and Pakistan maps to ensure compatibility with recent official UN map. As per the order of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the Inter Ministerial Committee which was also attended by representatives of the Ministry of External Affairs, after deliberations, held that the channel had clearly violated the provisions of the programme code and prohibited transmission or re-transmission of the channel throughout India for five days.

Iraq[edit]

During the Iraq war, Al Jazeera faced reporting and movement restrictions, as did other news-gathering organizations. In addition, one of its reporters, Tayseer Allouni, was expelled from the country, while another one, Diyar Al-Omari, was stripped of his journalistic permits by the US. Reacting to this, Al Jazeera announced on 2 April 2003, that it would "temporarily freeze all coverage" of Iraq in protest of what Al Jazeera described as unreasonable interference from Iraqi officials.[91]

Contrary to some allegations, including the oft-reported comments of Donald Rumsfeld on 4 June 2005, Al Jazeera has never shown beheadings (beheadings have appeared on numerous non-Al Jazeera websites and have sometimes been misattributed to Al Jazeera).[92]

On 7 August 2004, the Iraqi Allawi government shut down the Iraq office of Al Jazeera, claiming that it was responsible for presenting a negative image of Iraq, and charging the network with fueling anti-Coalition hostilities. Al Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout said: "It's regrettable and we believe it's not justifiable. This latest decision runs contrary to all the promises made by Iraqi authorities concerning freedom of expression and freedom of the press,"[93] and Al Jazeera vowed to continue its reporting from inside Iraq.[94] News photographs showed United States and Iraqi military personnel working together to close the office. Initially closed by a one-month ban, the shutdown was extended indefinitely in September 2004, and the offices were sealed,[95] drawing condemnation from international journalists.[96]

In April 2013, Iraq banned Al Jazeera along with nine other TV channels over 'sectarian bias'.[97] The Iraqi Communication and Media Commission said in a statement that the satellite channels had "exaggerated things, given misinformation and called for breaking the law and attacking Iraqi security forces". The watchdog complained of a "sectarian tone" in the TV coverage and said "undisciplined media messages exceeded all reasonable limits" and threatened to "jeopardise the democratic process".[98][99]

A widely reported criticism is the unfounded allegation that Al Jazeera showed videos of masked terrorists beheading western hostages in Iraq.[92] When this was reported in other media, Al Jazeera pressed for retractions to be made.[100] This allegation was again repeated on Fox News Channel on the launch day of Al Jazeera's English service, 15 November 2006.[101] Later The Guardian apologized for incorrect information that Al Jazeera "had shown videos of masked terrorists beheading western hostages".[100]

Israel[edit]

On 19 July 2008, Al Jazeera TV broadcast a program from Lebanon that covered the "welcome-home" festivities for Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese terrorist who had been imprisoned in Israel for killing several people in a Palestine Liberation Front raid from Lebanon into Israel. In the program, the head of Al Jazeera's Beirut office, Ghassan bin Jiddo, praised Kuntar as a "pan-Arab hero" and organized a birthday party for him.[102][103][104] In response, Israel's Government Press Office (GPO) announced a boycott of the channel, which was to include a general refusal by Israeli officials to be interviewed by the station, and a ban on its correspondents from entering government offices in Jerusalem.[105][106] A few days later an official letter was issued by Al Jazeera's director general, Wadah Khanfar, in which he admitted that the program violated the station's Code of Ethics and that he had ordered the channel's programming director to take steps to ensure that such an incident does not recur.[107][108]

The television network was also criticized for allegedly biased coverage of events in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, including the Bat Mitzvah massacre in 2002, where the network failed to note that the massacre victims were attending a bat mitzvah celebration for a 12-year-old girl, and neglected to mention that the gunman crashed the event at a crowded banquet hall.[109] When the Palestinian militant Raed Karmi was killed by the Israeli army, Al Jazeera was criticized for failing to mention Israeli accusations about how many people he had killed, which would have provided a context for the story.[109]

In 2008, Israel accused Al Jazeera of bias. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Majalli Wahabi accused the Qatari-owned station of focusing exclusively on Palestinian suffering, and ignoring Israeli suffering, referring to the Israeli residents of Western Negev, who have been the target of rocket attacks by Gaza in recent years.[110] "We have seen that Al-Jazeera has become part of Hamas . . . taking sides and cooperating with people who are enemies of the state of Israel," said Wahabi, a Druze Arab. "The moment a station like Al-Jazeera gives unreliable reports, represents only one side, and doesn't present the positions of the other side, why should we cooperate?", adding: "These reports are untrustworthy and they hurt us, and they arouse people to terrorist activities." Israeli officials backed their claim by saying Al Jazeera had covered the Gaza incursion but not the Palestinian rocket attacks against the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Wahabi said that the Israeli Foreign Ministry would send letters of complaint to the government of Qatar and Al Jazeera. Officials of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party also accuse Al Jazeera of being biased in favour of Hamas, with which it is at political loggerheads, and prominent Fatah official and former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan has organized a lawsuit against the broadcaster.[111][51][112] Al Jazeera eventually agreed to discuss coverage of Mideast conflict,[113] and the issue was apparently settled.

In February 2015, Al Jazeera posted an article to its online edition, alleging that the Israeli government had opened dams in its southern region in order to intentionally flood parts of the Gaza Strip. The article was retracted on the 25th of February, and replaced with a statement saying that there were, in fact, no dams in southern Israel, and that the article was false.[114]

During the June 2017 Jerusalem attack, Israeli media criticized Al-Jazeera, accusing it of not citing the incident as a terrorist attack and choosing to ignore the incident when 3 Palestinians attacked Temple Mount in Old Jerussalem, instead focusing on the killing of a Palestinian by Israeli forces on Jumat prayer.[115]

Kuwait[edit]

The Al Jazeera office in Kuwait City was closed by government officials after airing a story on police crackdowns. The story had video of police beating activists and included interviews with members of the Kuwaiti opposition. Four MP's were injured in the crackdown. Kuwait's Minister of Information described Al Jazeera's coverage as "intervention in a Kuwaiti domestic issue".[116]

Libya[edit]

According to the media of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Al Jazeera worked on behalf Western countries and those of the Gulf Cooperation Council in promoting their policies against Libya. It explained that Al Jazeera worked to "disseminate falsehoods and lies to incite international public opinion."[117]

The Qatari Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, opposed Libya's government and supported Libya's armed revolt in 2011, providing the rebels with significant military support and funding. Qatar's emir ordered Al Jazeera to emphasize Libya's conflict in the channel's coverage, which contributed to the spread of the insurgency and influenced the Arab world's views on Libya.[118] Within a week of the start of the rebellion in Libya against the Libyan Government, Al Jazeera started using the rebels' tricolor flag to mark its coverage.[119]

Qatar's emir appeared on Al Jazeera and urged that military intervention in Libya was necessary. Al Jazeera's journalists were criticized for not challenging the emir over his position.[120]

Although Al Jazeera reported on 22 February 2011 that Libya's government carried out airstrikes on Benghazi and Tripoli, observers concluded that the airstrikes did not take place.[121]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Saudi Arabia decided to ban Al-Jazeera and another Qatari website after Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani stated that he recognizes Iran as Islamic regional power and criticizes Saudi and Trump's policy toward Iran. He also praised Lebanese organization Hezbollah and the Palestinian group Hamas. However, Qatar denied such reports and said QNA was allegedly hacked and they are still investigating the issue. [122] [123]

Somalia[edit]

In January 2009 Al Jazeera aired a documentary on toxic waste dumped in Somalia. A Somali journalist who studied the contents of the two-part Al Jazeera documentary, The Toxic Truth,[124] has concluded that Al Jazeera failed to rigorously research the story because one of the letters used to substantiate arms smuggling was issued on 15 April 1992, from the Ministry of Defence of People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, almost two years after South Yemen and North Yemen united to form the Republic of Yemen in May 1990.[125] Another criticism of the documentary was that Al Jazeera did not allow Ali Mahdi Muhammad, former interim president of Somalia, to exercise his right of reply for being accused of authorising Italy based companies to build dumping grounds in Somalia.

Spain[edit]

Reporter Tayseer Allouni was arrested in Spain on 5 September 2003, on a charge of having provided support for members of al-Qaeda.[126] Judge Baltasar Garzón, who had issued the arrest warrant, ordered Allouni held without bail. Al Jazeera wrote to then Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and protested: "On several occasions Western journalists met secretly with secret organizations and they were not subjected to any legal action because they were doing their job, so why is Allouni being excluded?"[127] Allouni was released on bail several weeks later over health concerns, but prohibited from leaving the country.

On 19 September, a Spanish court issued an arrest warrant for Allouni before the expected verdict. Allouni had asked the court for permission to visit his family in Syria to attend the funeral of his mother but authorities denied his request and instead ordered him back to jail.[128]

Although he pleaded not guilty of all the charges against him, Allouni was sentenced on 26 September 2005 to seven years in prison for being a financial courier for al-Qaeda. Allouni insisted he merely interviewed Osama bin Laden after the 11 September attack on the United States.[129] Al Jazeera has continuously supported Allouni and maintain that he is innocent.[130]

Many international and private organizations (Reporters Without Borders among them) condemned the arrest and called on the Spanish court to free Taysir Allouni.[131]

Syria[edit]

Al Jazeera has been criticized over unfair coverage of the Syrian civil war. The channel's reporting has been described as largely supportive of the rebels, while demonizing the Syrian government.

The Lebanese newspaper As-Safir cited outtakes of interviews showing that the channel's staff coached Syrian eyewitnesses and fabricated reports of oppression by Syria's government. It refers to leaked internal e-mails suggest that Al Jazeera has become subordinated to the Qatari emir's assertive foreign policy, which supports Syria's rebels and advocates military intervention in the country.[132]

In March 2012, Al Jazeera correspondents Ali Hashim and two others resigned from their jobs because of objections over the reporting on the conflict. They reported that Al Jazeera paid $50,000 for smuggling phones and satellite communication tools to Syria's rebels. Hashim concluded, “The channel was taking a certain stance. It was meddling with each and every detail of reports on the Syrian revolution."[133]

Ahmad Ibrahim, who is in charge of the Al Jazeera's coverage on Syria, is the brother of a leading member of the rebels' "Syrian National Council". Al Jazeera reportedly put pressure on its journalists to use the term "martyr" for slain Syrian rebels, but not pro-government forces.[134]

In January 2013 a former News Editor at Al Jazeera, who was from Syria, and had been at Al Jazeera for "nearly a decade" was fired without cause given, but in an interview stated their belief that it was linked to his/her resistance of ongoing strong pressure to conform to biased coverage of the Syrian civil war. The former Editor stated that the Muslim Brotherhood was "controlling the Syrian file at Al-Jazeera" with both organizations biasing news coverage in favour of the Brotherhood ousting the Syrian government of Assad by force and warning the then-editor "the majority [in Syria] is with the Muslim Brotherhood and [taking power] is within our grasp" so "thank your god if you get a pardon when we become the government." The source named the names of several other former employees who resigned in protest, including director of the Berlin bureau Aktham Sleiman, a Syrian, "who was, at the beginning, with the [Syrian] opposition" but resisted what the interviewee terms the "lies and despicable [political and ethnic] sectarianism" and concluded that "Al-Jazeera has lied and is still lying" about Syria and in favour of armed overthrow and of the Muslim Brotherhood.[135][136]

United Kingdom[edit]

UK officials, like their US counterparts, strongly protested against Al Jazeera's coverage of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Al Jazeera stated that the coalition leaders were taking exception because its reporting made it more difficult for both countries to manage the way the war was being reported.[137]

In 2017, several pro-Israel British activists and a former Israeli Embassy employee filed complaints with the UK media regulator Ofcom alleging that Al Jazeera's four-part documentary series The Lobby was anti-Semitic, bias, unfair editing, and infringement of privacy. The Lobby documentary utilized hidden cameras and undercover journalism to investigate alleged efforts by Israeli diplomats and local pro-Israel advocacy groups to influence British foreign policy in Israel's favor. On 9 October 2017, Ofcom issued a 60-page ruling rejecting all the complaints. The ruling was welcomed by an Al Jazeera source as a vindication of the network's journalism.[138][139][140]

United States[edit]

Since 9/11 U.S. officials have claimed an anti-American bias to Al Jazeera's news coverage.[137][141] The station first gained widespread attention in the West following the September 11, 2001 attacks, when it broadcast videos in which Osama bin Laden and Sulaiman Abu Ghaith defended and justified the attacks. This led to significant controversy and accusations by the United States government that Al Jazeera was engaging in propaganda on behalf of terrorists. Al Jazeera countered that it was merely making information available without comment, and several western television channels later followed suit in broadcasting portions of the tapes. At a press conference on 3 October 2001, Colin Powell tried to persuade the emir of Qatar to shut down Al Jazeera.[142][143][144]

On 13 November 2001, during the War in Afghanistan, a U.S. missile strike destroyed Al Jazeera's office in Kabul. There were no casualties.[145]

When Al Jazeera reported events featuring very graphic footage from inside Iraq, Al Jazeera was described as anti-American and as inciting violence because it reported on issues concerning national security.[137]

In 2003 Washington bureau chief Hafez al-Mirazi resigned to protest the station's "Islamist drift".[47]

On 24 March 2003, two Al Jazeera reporters covering the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) had their credentials revoked.[146] The NYSE banned Al Jazeera (as well as several other news organizations whose identities were not revealed) from its trading floor indefinitely. NYSE spokesman Ray Pellechia said that it was due to "security reasons", and that the exchange had decided to give access only to networks that focus "on responsible business coverage". He denied the revocation had anything to do with the network's Iraq war coverage.[147][148] However, Robert Zito, the exchange's executive vice president for communications, indicated that Al Jazeera's broadcast of US P.O.W.'s and dead American soldiers on 22 March 2003 led him to oust Al Jazeera.[146] The move was quickly mirrored by NASDAQ stock market officials.[149] The NYSE ban was rescinded a few months later.[150]

In addition, Akamai Technologies, a U.S. company whose founder was killed in the 11 September World Trade Center attack, canceled a contract to provide web services for Al Jazeera's English language website.[151][152]

On 12 October 2008, Al Jazeera broadcast interviews with people attending a Sarah Palin 2008 United States presidential election rally in St. Clairsville, Ohio, with interviewees making comments about Barack Obama such as "he regards white people as trash" and "I'm afraid if he wins, the blacks will take over". The report received over 2 million views on YouTube[153] and elicited comment by Colin Powell: "Those kind of images going out on Al Jazeera are killing us."[154] Following this the Washington Post ran an op-ed,[155] claiming the news channel was deliberately encouraging "anti-American sentiment overseas",[155] which was criticized by Al Jazeera as "a gratuitous and uninformed shot at Al Jazeera's motives", as the report was just one of "hundreds of hours of diverse coverage".[154]

Some critics have alleged that Al Jazeera has censored criticism of the United States under U.S. pressure.[156] Al Jazeera English's former director, Wadah Khanfar resigned in September 2011 following Wikileaks documents that asserted that he had close ties to the U.S. and agreed to remove content if the United States objected.[157][158]

Some of Al Jazeera's competitors have claimed that Al Jazeera is pro-American. RT, a Russian network sometimes criticized for an alleged Anti-Western bias,[159] asserted that the Wikileaks documents concerning Wadah Khanfar (see above) prove that Al Jazeera is pro-American.[160] Voice of Russia made the same claim. Another rival, Iranian Press TV, has also published articles critical of Al Jazeera, claiming that Al Jazeera has a pro-American bias and serves Israeli interests. Their criticism of Al Jazeera came along with criticism of Qatar's government, and reports of rallies against the government.[161][162]

On April 28, 2015, Matthew Luke, Al Jazeera America's former Supervisor of Media and Archive Management, filed a US$15 million lawsuit against his former employers over unfair dismissal. Luke alleged that he had been unfairly dismissed by the network after he had raised concerns with the human resource division that his boss, Osman Mahmud, the Senior Vice-President of Broadcast Operations and Technology, discriminated against female employees and made anti-Semitic remarks.[163] In response, Ehab Al Shihabi, the head of Al Jazeera America, has announced that the network will contest the lawsuit in court. Mahmud has also denied Luke's charges and has alleged that Luke was a difficult employee. In an unrelated development, two female Al Jazeera America employees, Diana Lee, Executive Vice-President for Human Resources, and Dawn Bridges, Executive Vice President for Communications, had resigned that week.[164][165][166]

On 4 May 2015, Marcy McGinnis, a senior Al Jazeera America's executive and former CBS news anchor, resigned from the company for undisclosed reasons amidst internal dissension with AJAM's management.[167] On 5 May 2015, Al Jazeera Media Network demoted Al Shihabi to Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Al Jazeera America. He was demoted from CEO after a report from the New York Times of an altercation between him and host Ali Velshi where he attempted to fire and sue the channel's top host.[168] He was replaced by Al Anstey, the former managing director of Al Jazeera English.[169]

On January 13, 2016, Al Jazeera America CEO Al Anstey announced the U.S. broadcaster would cease operations in April 2016, stating “decision by Al Jazeera America’s board is driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace.” [170]

Death of Tareq Ayyoub[edit]

On 8 April 2003, Al Jazeera's office in Baghdad was hit by a missile fired from by an American ground-attack aircraft, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub and wounding another.[171] Al Jazeera reported that it had mailed coordinates for their office to the U.S. State Department six weeks earlier, and that these should have clearly identified their location.[172] Dima Tareq Tahboub, the widow of Tareq Ayyoub, continues as of 2003 to denounce her husband's death and has written for The Guardian and participated in a documentary broadcast on Al Jazeera English.[173]

On 30 January 2005, The New York Times reported that the Qatari government, under pressure from the Bush administration, was speeding up plans to sell the station.[174]

Al Jazeera bombing memo[edit]

On 22 November 2005, the UK tabloid The Daily Mirror published a story claiming that it had obtained a leaked memo from 10 Downing Street saying that former U.S. President George W. Bush had considered bombing Al Jazeera's Doha headquarters in April 2004, when United States Marines were conducting a contentious assault on Fallujah.[175]

Omar Abdel-Rahman[edit]

Al Jazeera was accused of defending Omar Abdel-Rahman over the 1993 World Trade Center bombing by Oren Kessler.[176][177] Arab and westerners received different messages from news organizations in the Gulf states. It was claimed that he "defended human rights"and "rejected tyranny" according to Aljazeera as they praised him.[178][unreliable source?]

Detention of Sami Al Hajj[edit]

Al Jazeera cameraman Sami Al Hajj, a Sudanese national, was detained while in transit to Afghanistan in December 2001, and up until May 2008 was held, without charge, as an enemy combatant in Camp Delta at Guantánamo Bay. The reasons for his detention remain unknown, although the U.S.' official statement on all detainees is that they are security threats. Reporters Without Borders have repeatedly expressed concern over Al Hajj's detention,[179] mentioned Al Hajj in their Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index,[180] and launched a petition for his release.[181]

On 23 November 2005, Sami Al Hajj's lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith reported that, during (125 of 130) interviews, U.S. officials had questioned al-Hajj as to whether Al Jazeera was a front for al-Qaeda.[182] Al-Hajj has since expressed plans to launch legal action against former U.S. President George W. Bush for his treatment while in Guantanamo. According to Stafford-Smith, these accusations include having been beaten and sexually assaulted during his incarceration.[citation needed]

Sami Al Hajj was released on May 1, 2008 from Guantanamo Bay and flown to Sudan. He arrived in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on a US military plane in the early hours of Friday, May 2. Al Jazeera showed footage of him being carried into the hospital on a stretcher, looking frail but smiling and surrounded by well-wishers.[183]

Reactions to The Dark Side: Secrets of the Sports Dopers documentary[edit]

On December 27, 2015, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera America released a report conducted by the Al Jazeera Investigative Unit called "The Dark Side: Secrets of the Sports Dopers" which investigated professional athletes' potential use of Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) naming Peyton Manning and other prominent athletes, as having received drugs from Charles Sly, a pharmacist who had worked at the Guyer Anti-Aging Clinic in Indianapolis during the fall of 2011.[184][185][186]

The Huffington Post leaked the reports a day before Al Jazeera's publication.[187] Then, Manning told ESPN's Lisa Salters about the reports, even though the documentary wasn't even published yet, on an interview on the morning of the 27th for ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown calling them "completely fabricated" and "garbage", and he also expressed his anger about his wife, Ashley, mentioned in the documentary. Salters pointed other cases have been seen in which athletes deny first and then eventually admit allegations and Manning answered he can't speak for others. Nevertheless, Manning also stated he had visited the Guyer Institute 35 times during 2011 and that he had received both medication and treatment from Guyer during this time.[188]

Sly recanted his story and requested the report not to be aired via a YouTube video following the release of the report.[189][190] Sly later said he had never seen the Mannings and told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that he is not a pharmacist and was not at the Guyer Institute in 2011, as Al Jazeera claimed, but state licensing records indicate that someone named "Charles David Sly" was licensed as a pharmacy intern in Indiana from April 2010 to May 2013 and that his license expired May 1, 2013.[191]

Manning took response and hired former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer to manage the issue.[192] He also threatened to sue Al Jazeera but then backed out.[193]

As part of the backlash, on January 5, 2016 it was announced that Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman had filed a lawsuit suing Al Jazeera for defamation following the publication's release of the documentary which linked them.[194]

The Lobby documentary series[edit]

On January 20, 2017, the Jewish-American magazine Tablet journalist Armin Rosen published an article asserting that a pro-Palestinian filmmaker and undercover Al Jazeera reporter named James Anthony Kleinfeld had infiltrated several pro-Israel advocacy organizations in Washington, D.C. including Stand With Us, The Israel Project, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Israel on Campus Coalition, and the Zionist Organization of America's (ZOA) Fuel For Truth. The article speculated that Kleinfeld was the same individual who infiltrated pro-Israel organizations and circles in the United Kingdom, which had been the subject of an Al Jazeera documentary released that month.[195] While operating as an undercover journalist, Kleinfield had reportedly obtained work at several pro-Israel organizations, interviewed dozens of Jewish pro-Israel activists, won access to donors, hosted officials from the Israeli embassy at his home, and filmed dozens of hours of video. The reporter left Washington suddenly in January 2017 around the time that Al Jazeera had broadcast a four-part documentary series called The Lobby, which used undercover journalism to infiltrate several pro-Israel advocacy groups in the United Kingdom.[196]

On October 11, 2017, Al Jazeera publicly admitted that it had installed an undercover journalist inside several Washington–based pro-Israel organizations in 2016 and that it was planning to air a documentary film based on the reporter's work. This announcement followed a ruling by the British media regulator Ofcom that rejected complaints against the January documentary series The Lobby; which had led to the resignation of an Israeli diplomat and drawn accusations of anti-antisemitism from UK pro-Israel advocacy groups and representatives of the local Jewish community. Clayton Swisher, Al Jazeera's director of investigative reporting, also acknowledged that the network had stationed an undercover journalist in both the UK and US at the same time.[197][198][199]

On 8 February, it was reported that Qatari leaders had reassured the leaders of Jewish American organizations that Al Jazeera would not be airing its companion documentary series on the Israel lobby in the United States. According to Haaretz, the Qatari government had reportedly hired Republican Senator Ted Cruz's former aide Nicolas Muzin to open communications channels with Jewish American organizations. Earlier, the network had sent letters to several American pro-Israel organizations informing them that their employees would appear in the documentary. These letters generated speculation that the Qatari government had reneged on its earlier promise to block Al Jazeera from screening the controversial documentary, which like the earlier British series had utilized clandestine footage and recordings of pro-Israel activists.[200][201]

Al Jazeera's decision not to screen the documentary drew criticism from Clayton Swisher, who defending the network's investigation unit's use of undercover journalism and accusing the network of capitulation to outside pressure. Swisher also took a sabbatical from Al Jazeera to express his disagreement with the network's handling of the situation.[202] In March 2018, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers including Democratic Congressman Josh Gottheimer, Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin, and Ted Cruz penned a letter urging United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate whether Al Jazeera should register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. They also urged the Justice Department to investigate reports that the network had infiltrated non-profit organizations and accused Al Jazeera of broadcasting anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and anti-American content.[203][204][205]

On April 10, 2018, the Zionist Organization of America's president Morton Klein claimed credit for lobbying the Qatari government not to screen Al Jazeera's companion documentary series focusing on American pro-Israel lobby.[196]

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