Al Jazeera deplores call for closure
June 24 2017 03:14 AM
Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera

Agencies/Doha

Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera said yesterday any move to shut it down was an attack on media freedom, following demands by Gulf neighbours for the channel to be taken off air.
The closure of the broadcaster is said to be one of 13 wide-ranging demands placed on Doha by Saudi Arabia and its allies as the price for lifting an almost three-week long blockade on Qatar.
“We in the network believe that any call for closing down Al Jazeera is nothing but an attempt to silence the freedom of expression in the region and to suppress people’s right to information,” the broadcaster said in a statement.
Al Jazeera added that it “deplores” calls for its closure.
Turkey rejected a call from four Arab states yesterday to shut down its military base in Qatar, saying the base was a guarantor of security in the Gulf and demands for its closure represented interference in its ties with Doha.
Defence Minister Fikri Isik told Turkish broadcaster NTV that he had not yet seen a request for the closure of the base, but made clear Ankara had no plans to review a 2014 agreement with Qatar which led to it being set up.
“If there is such a demand, it will mean interference in bilateral ties,” Isik said, suggesting instead that Turkey might continue to bolster its presence in Qatar.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary has said that a major diplomatic crisis in the Gulf will end only when “measured and realistic” conditions are discussed, in comments made shortly after a 13-point ultimatum was reportedly issued by a Saudi-led bloc of countries that have cut ties with Qatar.
“Gulf unity can only be restored when all countries involved are willing to discuss terms that are measured and realistic,” Boris Johnson said on Friday, according to a statement published by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
“The UK calls upon the Gulf states to find a way of deescalating the situation and lifting the current embargo and restrictions which are having an impact on the everyday lives of people in the region,” Johnson added.
A leading British publication, The Guardian, published an editorial yesterday, referring in the headline to the demand to shut Al Jazeera as “muzzling journalism”. “This is ridiculous. Qatar’s neighbours want to gag media that raises questions about the way these nations are run,” the article said.
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch, has said on Twitter: “The UAE and Saudi demand that Qatar shut down Al Jazeera doesn’t just punish Qatar; it punishes the millions of Arabs in the region from important news coverage. This is just an attempted expansion of the cowardly censorship they have inflicted on their own citizens, but it will fail.”
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch, has said on Twitter: “The UAE and Saudi demand that Qatar shut down Al Jazeera doesn’t just punish Qatar; it punishes the millions of Arabs in the region from important news coverage. This is just an attempted expansion of the cowardly censorship they have inflicted on their own citizens, but it will fail.”
Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatar’s ambassador to the US, said in an article published in Washington Post on Thursday that the allegations that Qatar supports “terrorism” and that it is a secret ally of Iran are just a smokescreen for an attempt to infringe upon Qatar’s sovereignty and punish it for its independence.




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