Al Jazeera’s reaction to Saudi demands

“We are stunned by the demand to close Al Jazeera,” Giles Trendle, the acting managing director of Al Jazeera English, said.

“Of course there has been talk about it in the past but it is still a great shock and surprise to actually see it in writing. It’s as absurd as it would be for Germany to demand Britain close the BBC.”

Trendle said Al Jazeera is going to continue its “editorial mission of covering the world news in a fair and balanced way”.

“We call on all governments to respect media freedom. We hope other media organisations will support our call to defend media freedom,” he added.

Trendle said the roots of the demand to close Al Jazeera go back to 2011 and the Arab Spring.

“At that time, Al Jazeera was covering the dreams and the aspirations of a new generation of people. We provided the platform for the voice of the man and the woman in the Arab streets. We were covering those protests and we were providing a diversity of viewpoints. We were really the voice of the voiceless. I think there are some regimes in the region that don’t appreciate that diversity of views. I think that’s the reason for what’s going on here.”

Yaser Abuhilalah, director of Al Jazeera Arabic, called the demand to shut Al Jazeera a crime violating freedom of speech.

“I am against demands to close any media outlet, because it is a crime, a violation of basic human rights to freedom of speech,” Abuhilalah told Sputnik.

“If Al Jazeera violated something, anyone could sue it – in a Qatari court or in [a court of] any other country, it is the legitimate right of every person harmed by the media. But the demand to close [Al Jazeera] is a crime.”


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