Leaked Al Jazeera emails expose anger over global support for Charlie Hebdo

The leaked emails exposed a clear rift between the Qatar-based network's Arab and European/American employees.

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January 11, 2015 17:51
2 minute read.
Al Jazeera logo

Al Jazeera logo. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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Leaked internal emails from The Qatari-based Al Jazeera news to the New York-based National Review magazine revealed a split in the network's employees that ran across lines of the global campaigns "I am Charlie" and "I am not Charlie"  in the wake of multiple terror attacks in France.

Al Jazeera English editor and executive producer Salah-Aldeen Khadr sent out a staff-wide e-mail last Thursday, reminding his staffers that "We are Al Jazeera!!!"

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Khadr made suggestions for Al Jazeera employees on how to cover the Charlie Hebdo massacre, including, asking if it "really was an attack on free speech," whether "I am Charlie" is an alienating slogan and whether this was really an attack against free speech and, or  "European values" or really "a clash of extremist fringes."

Kahdr finished by quoting from a TIME magazine article by Bruce Crumley:"Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile."

Khadr's email was responded to by US-based correspondent Tom Ackerman, quoting an op-ed by Ross Douthat in the New York Times: "If a large enough group of someone is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said, because otherwise the violent have veto power over liberal civilization."

Firing back at Ackerman's response, Doha based correspondent Mohamed Vall Salem wrote: "I guess if you encourage people to go on insulting 1.5 billion people about their most sacred icons then you just want more killings because as I said in 1.5 billion there will remain some fools who don’t abide by the laws or know about free speech." Salem added that he thought "what Charlie Hebdo did was not free speech it was an abuse of free speech," and ended by condemning the "Heinous killings" but finishing in all caps "I'M NOT CHARLIE."

Salem's rejoined prompted Al Jazeera's senior correspondent in Paris Jacky Rowland to write: "We are Aljazeera. So, a polite reminder: #journalismisnotacrime."

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Rowland's terse and pithy email prompted a defensive response from one of Al Jazeera's Arab reporters, Omar al Saleh from the Al Jazeera English Chanel: "First i condemn the brutal killing. But I AM NOT CHARLIE.JOURNALISM IS NOT A CRIME
INSULTISM IS NOT JOURNALISM. AND NOT DOING JOURNALISM PROPERLY IS CRIME."

This heated email exchange reveals a rift in the Al Jazeera between the Arab core of the network and the Western journalists working for them.   

   

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