In response to UN accusations that the Gulf states are attacking Qatar’s freedom of expression by demanding Al Jazeera’s closure, UAE foreign minister asserts the network incites hatred by broadcasting sermons by anti-Semitic cleric who “praised Hitler” and called on Allah to “kill them, down to the very last one.”
By AFP and Israel Hayom Staff
A top United Arab Emirates official on Wednesday accused Qatari broadcast giant Al Jazeera of anti-Semitism, discrimination and inciting religious hate, in a rebuttal to U.N. accusations of attacking freedom of expression.
Last month, four Gulf states — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE — issued a tough 13-point list of demands that included shutting down Qatar’s flagship network and other news outlets. Qatar has rejected the demands, saying that agreeing to them wholesale would undermine its sovereignty.
Consequently, the United Nations warned that the demand to close Al Jazeera violated basic freedoms.
The UAE state minister for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, hit back in a letter to U.N. rights chief Zeid Raad Al Hussein, writing that Al Jazeera had “promoted anti-Semitic violence by broadcasting sermons by the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi.”
Qaradawi, he added, had “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.'”
The letter was published in a statement from the UAE National Media Council.
Saudi Arabia and its allies cut all ties with Qatar last month over accusations the country funded Islamist extremists and was too close to Shiite-ruled Iran, sealing the emirate’s only land border and ordering its citizen to return home.
The closure of Al Jazeera was one of the 13 wide-ranging demands the alliance placed on Doha as conditions to lift the “blockade,” now in its second month.
On June 30, Al Hussein said the demand that Al Jazeera be shut down represented “an unacceptable attack on the right to freedom of expression and opinion.”
Gargash’s letter, dated July 9 but released Wednesday, also accuses Al Jazeera of having “repeatedly crossed the threshold of incitement to hostility, violence and discrimination” and lists multiple examples, among them broadcasting the speeches of slain al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
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