Tag Archives: Journalism

Al Jazeera Journalist Fahmy Suing Al Jazeera for “negligence” in Egypt Detention

A more detailed explanation by Fahmy on his intention to sue Al Jazeera can be found in the following link: http://www.theguardian.com/media/video/2015/may/11/al-jazeera-journalist-mohamed-fahmy-sue-network-negligence-egypt-video

Al Jazeera journalist, Mohamed Fahmy, filed a lawsuit against Al Jazeera seeking 100m Canadian dollars for “epic negligence” in its conduct towards him. He argued that it was partially responsible for his arrest and imprisonment in Egypt. Last June, Fahmy, along with two other Al Jazeera journalists were jailed on charges of helping the Muslim Brotherhood, which is deemed a terrorist group, and for spreading false news.

Fahmy’s criticism of Al Jazeera is twofold. Firstly, he accuses the network of failing to protect the journalists against the threat of arrest. They failed to provide the English channel’s staff with sufficient security, to clarify to Egyptian officials that it was different from the Arabic channels, and to provide the required press passes and equipment permits. Secondly, he accuses the network of further endangering the journalists when they were seized. The Arabic Al Jazeera channel, along with its Egyptian affiliate, Mubasher Misr, was highly biased and acted as the mouthpiece of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Fahmy argues that the Qatari-based network appeared more concerned with waging a media war against Egypt, which put its journalists in greater harms way.

Although not enough about his case has been made clear to the public, it does raise some important questions. To what extent is Fahmy purging the Egyptian government and authorities of his wrongful arrest and imprisonment? And to what end? In other words, how genuine is his case against Al Jazeera? Is it borne out of a genuine belief of neglect by the network, or out of self interest? It could be that this case is a means to gain compensation for his being jailed or even to win favor with the Egyptian government during his trial.

Despite my current skepticism about his intentions, there is truth to his accusations against the Arabic Al Jazeera channels. Many of its journalists expressed concern and criticism to the network over its increasing bias in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, many resigned for that reason. Moreover, the network did behave negligently with its staff. It put its journalists at risk by failing to provide them with appropriate paperwork. For example, Peter Greste – one of the imprisoned Al Jazeera journalists – along with other visiting correspondents were told to enter Egypt on tourist visas and to work without accreditation. Moreover, the network failed to renew many of the the resident staffers’ accreditations, which were approaching their expiration, including those of the jailed journalists.

The thought I’m left with now is that while Egyptian officials and the judiciary responded unnecessarily harshly with the Al Jazeera journalists, the arrests were not completely unjustified. It is interesting that none of the facts about the AJ staff illegally working in Egypt were made public in western media until now. Any such claims in Egyptian media were viewed by the west as attempts by Egyptian outlets to justify an oppressive system, thereby failing to recognize the complexity of the matter. What is even more baffling to me is how little Fahmy’s lawsuit is being discussed right now! It is such a dramatic and unprecedented turn of events that it deserves greater media attention than it is getting.

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32694739

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/feb/20/mohamed-fahmy-al-jazeera-protecting-journalists-cairo-agenda

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