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Wadah Khanfar out as al-Jazeera Director-General 21 September 2011

Posted by foray in al-jazeera, al-jazeera english, Khanfar, media, الجزيرة, خنفر.
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Al-Jazeera director general Wadah Khanfar has told staff he is resigning from his position.

Qatari businessman Sheikh Ahmad bin Jassim bin Mohammad al-Thani will replace him, the broadcaster’s website says.

Khanfar publicised the announcement and has made further comments using his Twitter account:

After 8 years of service leading Al Jazeera, I have just announced that I am moving on.

ثماني سنوات في إدارة الجزيرة انقضت، لكن حبي للشبكة والعاملين فيها ولجمهورها الرائع يستمر معي ما حيت

Entertained by all the rumors of why I have resigned. #whatdoyouthink? 🙂


Qatari PM ‘would stop al-Jazeera for a year’: Wikileaks 29 November 2010

Posted by foray in al-jazeera, al-jazeera english, Egypt, media, Mubarak, Palestinian Territories, qatar, US, الجزيرة.
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Classified US diplomatic cable 10DOHA71, one of 251,287 memos released by Wikileaks on 28 November 2010, details a conversation between US Senator John Kerry and Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber bin Muhammad al-Thani in February 2010 in which the Qatari PM suggests his government would “would stop al-Jazeera for a year” if doing so would help deliver a lasting Middle East peace settlement.

The confidential dispatch from the US embassy in Qatar notes the Qatari PM (referred to as HBJ) declaring that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak falsely blames al-Jazeera for Egypt’s problems. Al-Thani then apparently tells of an offer he made to Mubarak to “stop al-Jazeera for a year”.

18. (C) Qatar is worried, said HBJ, about Egypt and its
people, who are increasingly impatient.
Mubarak, continued HBJ, says Al Jazeera is the source of Egypt’s problems. This is an excuse.
HBJ had told Mubarak “we would stop Al Jazeera for a year” if he agreed in that span of time to deliver a lasting settlement for the Palestinians.
Mubarak said nothing in response, according to HBJ.

It is unclear from the dispatch if the Qatari leader’s offer is serious and the document gives no further details on the proposal.

Both representatives of the Qatari government and the al-Jazeera network have in the past publicly said that the state does not interfere in the editorial matters of the news channel.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber bin Muhammad al-Thani also serves as the current Qatari foreign minister, as well as holding the post of prime minister.

Blair denies Bush conversation on bombing al-Jazeera offices 16 December 2007

Posted by foray in al-jazeera, al-jazeera english, al-jazeera memo, Blair, media, qatar, UK, US.
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Confronted for the first time publicly about a purported phone conversation with US president George Bush in 2004 concerning a plan to bomb al-Jazeera headquarters in Qatar, former British PM Tony Blair has denied it ever happened.

The question was put to Blair this week during an interview with al-Jazeera, which largely focused on his current role as special envoy to the Middle East for the Quartet.

Iran lifts al-Jazeera ban – due to management reshuffle? 31 May 2007

Posted by foray in al-jazeera, Bila Hudud, iran, iraq, media.
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Iran has lifted its restrictions on al-Jazeera reporters, in the aftermath of the Bila Hudud al-Sistani ‘insult’ incident. Director of Foreign Media at Iran’s Ministry of Culture Mohsen Moqaddaszadeh said:

The channel is allowed to resume both its Arabic and English services in Tehran after it officially apologized to Iran and made some changes at managerial level.

Is this a reference to the al-Jazeera board of directors reshuffle that dropped Wadah Khanfar?

Meanwhile, Khanfar’s absence has raised eyebrows at the Asia Media Summit in Malaysia. Khanfar – still listed as “Director General of the al-Jazeera Network” in the official programme – was nowhere to be seen.

Jail for civil servant, researcher in ‘al-Jazeera memo’ case; UK media blackout 11 May 2007

Posted by foray in al-jazeera, al-jazeera memo, media.

Two men have been jailed in the UK for breaching the Official Secrets Act by attempting to leak a memo describing details of a conversation in April 2004 between British PM Tony Blair and US president George Bush.

David Keogh, a communications officer at the Cabinet Office, was given six months while Leo O’Connor, a researcher for anti-war Labour MP Anthony Clarke, received three months

British newspapers are all reporting the story, but not what the memo contains. Because they can’t.

As The Independent noted:

Throughout the trial, the public and press were excluded from parts of the hearing which referred to the contents of the highly sensitive memo. It is a contempt of court to publish details of the memo.

What is known is that The Daily Mirror reported on the particular memo on 22 November 2005 in a front-page story. The original article (full text still available on the Mirror site here) stated that the memo indicated that Bush “planned to bomb” the Doha headquarters of al-Jazeera. One source told the newspaper the president’s reference to bombing the Qatari capital was in jest. Another source claimed the conversation was serious. The memo also allegedly “included details of troop deployments”.

Several British newspapers are now appealing to be allowed to report on more details of the case – including the information in the above paragraph. Justice Richard Aikens said the British press could reveal some of the background, provided they did it in a remarkably contorted manner, as The Guardian explained:

The judge suggested that the allegations could be “recycled,” but only if they were published on a separate page of a newspaper from that containing references to the trial.

The Mirror today could only hint at what their previous story had said:

Much of the trial was held behind closed doors after the judge said that “some individuals or groups in the Middle East might react very unfavourably to the contents of the letter”.

Details of the memo had already been revealed exclusively by the Daily Mirror and are therefore in the public domain.

But although our story was flashed around the world and is freely available on the internet, the judge ruled it could not be repeated in reports of the trial.

The original Mirror story prompted some al-Jazeera staffers to set up the “Don’t Bomb Us” blog. A flotilla of bloggers subsequently stepped forward – under the motto “I’ll publish the al-Jazeera memo” – to proclaim they would risk jail to release the contents of the letter.

“Al-Jazeera? They show beheadings, don’t they?” – Anatomy of a myth 10 April 2007

Posted by foray in al-jazeera, beheadings, media, myth, myth watch, myths.

Al-Jazeera has never shown footage of a hostage being beheaded. So why do so many believe the station has broadcast such barbaric scenes from Iraq and Afghanistan?

The false decapitation reports started creeping into media stories about al-Jazeera as its international influence grew, and – much to the chagrin of the network’s media department – kept getting recycled.

So prevalent has the myth become that some al-Jazeera insiders wonder if it’s part of an intentional smear campaign against their channel.

The matter wasn’t helped when US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seemingly endorsed the story in June 2005, as he told a security conference in Singapore:

I think the United States is well aware of the fact that its circumstance and its position is such that there is going to be criticism and I suspect that from time to time the criticism is merited. But I also know that if anyone here lived in the Middle East and watched a network like al-Jazeera day after day after day, even if you were an American, you would begin to believe that America was bad. And quite honestly, I do not get up in the morning and think that America is what’s wrong with the world. The people that are going on television chopping off people’s heads is what’s wrong with the world. And television networks that carry it and promote it and are Johnny-on-the-spot every time there’s a terrorist act are promoting it.

Not true, al-Jazeera replied in a diplomatically-worded statement on the same day.

Here’s a select chronological list of incidents where the urban legend has been reported as fact in recent years. It includes numerous media outlets you’d think would know better: (more…)