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GIOR Investigation: Al Jazeera Arabic Gives Voice to Muslim Brotherhood on Ukraine

March 5th, 2022 12:48

A GIOR inves­ti­ga­tion has found that three of four Al Jazeera Ara­bic opin­ion pieces on the Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine were authored by indi­vid­u­als affil­i­at­ed with the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and/or its allies. The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed ear­li­er this week that ele­ments of the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood were attempt­ing to shift the nar­ra­tive on the Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine to Mid­dle East con­flicts., par­tic­u­lar­ly the Israeli-Pales­tin­ian con­flict, not­ing the attempts cen­ter on alleged hypocrisy in the West­ern response to the inva­sion. We also report­ed ear­li­er this week on a sym­pa­thet­ic Eng­lish lan­guage arti­cle pub­lished by Al Jazeera, also cen­tered on an alleged dou­ble stan­dard in the West­ern response.

The Al Jazeera Eng­lish opin­ion sec­tion cur­rent­ly con­tains at least one arti­cle in a sim­i­lar vein, titled “Cov­er­ing Ukraine: A Mean Streak of Racist Excep­tion­al­ism- West­ern Moral Defor­mi­ties Are on an Open Dis­play Amid the War in Ukraine.” Yet, this arti­cle is only one among many in the sec­tion, togeth­er pre­sent­ing a some­what bal­anced view of the con­flict, albeit heavy on crit­i­cisms of the US. How­ev­er, the Al Jazeera Ara­bic opin­ion sec­tion has four promi­nent­ly dis­played arti­cles, three of which char­ac­ter­ize the West­ern media response to the inva­sion as hyp­o­crit­i­cal, racist, and show­ing dou­ble stan­dards towards Arabs and the Mid­dle East. These arti­cles also attempt to shift the nar­ra­tive on Ukraine to the Mid­dle East.

The first arti­cle was writ­ten by Suleiman Saleh, iden­ti­fied by Al Jazeera only as a Pro­fes­sor of Media at Cairo Uni­ver­si­ty and a for­mer mem­ber of the “Rev­o­lu­tion Par­lia­ment.” How­ev­er, the Egypt­ian Mus­lim Broth­er­hood web­site says Saleh is “a pro­fes­sor who is affil­i­at­ed with the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood.” In his arti­cle, titled “Rus­si­a’s War on Ukraine. What We Nev­er Knew About West­ern Hypocrisy”, Saleh alleges that West­ern states, the US in par­tic­u­lar, are guilty of dou­ble stan­dards, prej­u­dice, and racism. He claims that the Russ­ian aggres­sion is only con­demned because the vic­tims are “white or who resem­ble West­ern states.” At the same time, the “tragedies of the Arab and Mus­lim peo­ples” are ignored, sin­gling out Gaza, Yemen, Syr­ia, and Myan­mar as exam­ples. Saleh also cites the Ukrain­ian sol­dier who was recent­ly report­ed to have det­o­nat­ed mines on a bridge where he was stand­ing to stop a Russ­ian armored col­umn from advanc­ing. In the exam­ple, Saleh com­pares the inci­dent to Pales­tin­ian “mar­tyr­dom oper­a­tions,” the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of which have involved attacks on Israeli civilians:

The Ukrain­ian man who blew him­self up in a Russ­ian tank deserves to be glo­ri­fied, proud and pre­sent­ed as a hero who sac­ri­ficed his life in defence of his coun­try’s free­dom and inde­pen­dence, but at the same time there are many Pales­tin­ian men who car­ried out mar­tyr­dom oper­a­tions and blew up their bod­ies in the tanks of the Israeli occu­pi­er and his army to lib­er­ate their land.

Saleh also com­plains that while world sanc­tions have been imposed on Rus­sia, boy­cotts direct­ed against Israel were labeled anti-Semit­ic and crim­i­nal­ized by the UK.

In the sec­ond arti­cle, author Yasin Aktay is iden­ti­fied only as a Turk­ish aca­d­e­m­ic, politi­cian, and writer. In real­i­ty, Aktay is a high-rank­ing offi­cial of the Turk­ish AKP, the Islamist polit­i­cal par­ty close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Aktay is also known to be close to the net­works of the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. In the arti­cle titled “The Drums of War, Rus­si­a’s Exposed Face and the West Full of Slo­gans”, Aktay talks about the “mask,” hid­ing Europe’s true nature:

Reac­tions to Rus­si­a’s war on Ukraine revealed the dis­ap­pear­ance of the mask that cov­ered the face of Europe, under which com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent forms emerged from those it had been try­ing to present to the world for a long time.[…]After all, the Euro­pean face that was revealed after its reac­tions to the Russ­ian attack on Ukraine was very ugly, very out­dat­ed, racist and very igno­rant, which is reflect­ed in the way many reporters and com­men­ta­tors on many tele­vi­sion chan­nels speak of Ukrain­ian refugees, which reveal deep-root­ed racial dis­crim­i­na­tion, igno­rance and indif­fer­ence that hide racism beneath it, much deep­er than a mat­ter of language.

Aktay also com­plains about dou­ble stan­dards, alleg­ing that Syr­i­an, Arab, and African refugees are not treat­ed in the same way as Ukrain­ian refugees. He com­plains as well that for­eign fight­ers com­ing to aid Ukraine are described dif­fer­ent­ly than those who “rushed from all over the world [to Syr­ia] to help against a dic­ta­tor who killed his peo­ple,” ignor­ing West­ern con­cerns about the Islamist affil­i­a­tions of such for­eign fight­ers in Syria.

The third Al Jazeera Ara­bic arti­cle is authored by Mutaz Al-Khat­ib, iden­ti­fied only as a Pro­fes­sor of Phi­los­o­phy at the Hamad bin Khal­i­fa Uni­ver­si­ty School (HKBU)l of Islam­ic Stud­ies. How­ev­er, his HKBU biog­ra­phy says Al-Khat­ib is an Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor at the Research Cen­ter for Islam­ic Leg­is­la­tion and Ethics (CILE), close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with Mus­lim Broth­er­hood lead­ers Tariq Ramadan and Youssef Qaradawi. In his arti­cle, titled “War on Ukraine between Pro­fes­sion­al Stan­dards and Media Ethics,” Al-Khat­ib alleges that West­ern media cov­er­age on Ukraine has “vio­lat­ed two things: pro­fes­sion­al stan­dards and media ethics” and sin­gles out var­i­ous West­ern media, includ­ing the BBC, ITV, CBS, and NBC. Cit­ing the same com­ments by West­ern reporters referred to above, as well as alleged inci­dents of dis­crim­i­na­tion at the Ukrain­ian bor­der, he alleges that racism is “esca­lat­ing in Europe” and Euro­pean immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy “reflects a form of racism that rejects plu­ral­ism or tol­er­ance of dif­fer­ent cul­tur­al and reli­gious forms and pat­terns that do not cor­re­spond to the mod­ern model.”

In Sep­tem­ber 2020, the US ordered Qatari-owned Al Jazeera in the US to reg­is­ter as a for­eign agent. Accord­ing to the New York Times:

…the Jus­tice Depart­ment said that AJ+, a net­work that pri­mar­i­ly pro­duces short videos for social media in Eng­lish as well as Ara­bic, French, and Span­ish, engages in “polit­i­cal activ­i­ties” on behalf of Qatar’s government.

Al Jazeera has also had a his­toric close rela­tion­ship with the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, a transna­tion­al Islamist net­work cov­ered by the GIOR).

[NOTE: All Al Jazeera Ara­bic arti­cles were trans­lat­ed using Google Translate]