Qatar’s Al Jazeera network got their hands caught in the proverbial felafel jar today when it recycled pictures of dead children from an accident months ago, claiming they were killed in Egypt’s overnight bombing of ISIS positions in Derna, Libya.
The pictures were posted on both the Al Jazeera website and their Facebook page. The picture has been changed on their website and the Facebook post has been removed, but I did screen capture the Facebook posting:
— Alwasat Libya (@alwasatengnews) February 16, 2015
— إسلام الديب (@Deebo250) February 16, 2015
That hasn’t prevented others from repeating Al Jazeera’s claims that 40-50 women and children were killed in the overnight airstrikes:
Egyptian Twitter users were quick to express frustration with the network’s ongoing information war against Egypt:
Want to know why Egyptians hate AJ? here you go, it's using old pics of kids claiming they were killed by Egypt army https://t.co/pjbCruM1Fz
— Mina Kamel (@minafkamel) February 16, 2015
— The Big Pharaoh (@TheBigPharaoh) February 16, 2015
Since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi in Egypt after the massive June 30, 2013 protests, many in the Middle East have grown to see Al Jazeera not as a news network but as an information warfare arm of the State of Qatar and their owner, Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
In December, AlJazeera shut down its Egyptian channel in an effort to smooth relations between Egypt and Qatar.
The tension between the two states could be seen in the international protests devoted to the cause of three Al Jazeera employees that had been jailed in the wake of the June 30th revolution on charges of attempting to undermine the new Egyptian government.
While whole news organizations dedicated themselves to the Al Jazeera employees’ release, highlighted by the #FreeAJStaff hashtag, there was little discussion that Egyptian authorities had repeatedly warned Al Jazeera that they were not properly licensed to broadcast out of the country.
All three of the Al Jazeera employees have recently been released. Peter Greste, an Australian citizen, was released and deported on February 1st. The other two employees, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were released last week on $33,000 (US) bail.
And yet when Fahmy and Mohamed were released, despite more than a year of agitation directed at Egypt for their employees’ release, the network refused to pay their bail:
— سلطان سعود القاسمي (@SultanAlQassemi) February 15, 2015
Even after his release, Mohamed Fahmy admits that his case wasn’t entirely about free expression, but rather Qatar’s weaponizing Al Jazeera against its perceived international enemies:
Their arrest came against the backdrop of deteriorating ties between Cairo and Doha, which backed the Muslim Brotherhood government of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
Morsi was ousted by then army chief Sisi in July 2013.
“This case is partly about freedom of expression … however there is also a part of the case that is an ongoing cold war and score settling between Qatar and Egypt,” Fahmy said.
That more of an admission than you would hear from most U.S. establishment media outlets.