The Egyptian court has yet again adjourned the retrial of Australian journalist Peter Greste, and his Al Jazeera colleagues Baher Mohomed and Mohamed Fahmy. The Guardian yesterday described the situation as “the latest setback in a prolonged case that has attracted the criticism of press freedom advocates worldwide.”
Furthermore, it is Peter Greste own view that, “he and two colleagues will not be truly free until a Egyptian court exonerates the trio of terrorism-related charges.”
Strangely, the media has failed to provide the exact details of this intriguing and prolonged case. The community has some knowledge that Peter Greste is an Al Jazeera journalist jailed in Egypt for spreading false news and supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood, during the turmoil following the ousting of the Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
The jailing of Peter Greste caused great controversy, and became a media issue all of its own. The Australian Government, off the back of the public outrage over the jailing of Greste played diplomatic hardball with the Egyptians, and managed to have him freed and deported back to Australia in February this year.
Since then, Greste has been heralded as a hero and showered with journalism awards.
But there is something that makes me feel uneasy. When Greste appeared on the ABC’s Q&A recently, he made the usual statements apologising for Islamic extremism, attributing the blame for Islamic discontent on the shoulders of the West. He proceeded to say that Muslims are reacting to talk in the West about war and a clash of civilisations, yet failed to acknowledge that this kind of language is deeply embedded in and inseparable from the manifestos of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and indeed the Quran and the traditions of Islam itself.
Something is just not right.
Then I looked into the ABC’s international media darling Al Jazeera which is based in the Arab nation Qatar. Al-Jazeera rose to prominence in the West during the Afghanistan campaign of the early 2000s, and very quickly grew to become the preferred Middle Eastern news agency for Australia’s ABC as well as most of Australia’s and the United States’ mainstream media outlets.
So what do we know about Al Jazeera, and who owns it? Well first of all, al-Jazeera is owned and funded by the Qatari government. Starting to feel a little uneasy?
The Qatari government is a hereditary monarchy ruled by a royal family that has made tremendous wealth from oil and gas. Qatar is certainly not any bastion of liberal democracy, and Sharia law forms the foundation of the nation’s constitution.
At this point I’m guessing you’re feeling a little more uneasy, and there’s good reason to be concerned.
Al-Jazeera is a news agency owned by an anti-democracy, pro-Sharia law state that has become the trusted source for Middle Eastern and international news, not only for Australia’s ABC but for much of the Western media. You are right to be hearing alarm bells.
Moreover, Al Jazeera has been roundly accused of acting as the propaganda arm of the Qatari government, as well as promoting the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood. But most people have no idea of these facts ( & I urge you to check them out yourself, Google is your friend).
Last December, the Economist Reported:
“For the past decade Qatar had given quiet, generous and persistent support to the Muslim Brotherhood. It had lent money, diplomatic backing and a powerful media platform not only to the mother organisation, founded in Egypt in 1928, but to a range of affiliated and like-minded Islamist groups across the region. Qatar’s leaders leant ideologically towards the Brotherhood’s conservative but centrist Islamism.”
Now, without making any personal implications towards Peter Greste, this whole story looks and feels rather sickening.
Whatever Peter Greste’s personal convictions, it is clear that there are connections between Al Jazeera and Qatar, and Qatar and the terrorist organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood, – and therefore very likely a relationship between Al Jazeera and the Muslim Brotherhood too.
It is not just uncomfortable, but downright wrong that al-Jazeera, a news agency owned and funded by a non-democratic Sharia state, is the trusted source of news for the Western media.
I am pleased that Peter Greste has been released from his Egyptian jail. Yet I am not fully convinced that he himself has no connection with the Muslim Brotherhood. And whether he personally does or not, it is beside the point. His employer and its owner most certainly have, and the whole al-Jazeera media arrangement is extremely disturbing.
Whilst the Peter Greste saga has been made out to be an issue of media freedom and free speech, and Greste himself has been made out to be a hero, given what lies behind it all, we should be not just skeptical, but gravely concerned about the whole story and the reliability and trustworthiness of al-Jazeera news.