Rights group hits Gulf states’ ban on powerful Qatar media, including Al Jazeera

by WorldTribune Staff, June 14, 2017

Arab states that have severed diplomatic ties with Qatar went too far when they blocked Qatari media outlets, a human rights group said.

Human Rights Watch said that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates blocked Qatari media outlets, including Al Jazeera, while Egypt blocked 62 websites favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Jordan on June 7 shut down the Amman office of Qatar-based Al Jazeera.

“The action is a violation of freedom of expression… Authorities should repeal or amend laws that are used to criminalize peaceful expression. International law on freedom of speech prohibits the banning of peaceful criticism of governments, and crimes such as insulting the president or state authorities,” Human Rights Watch said.

On June 7, Al Jazeera’s bureau in Amman, Jordan was closed and stripped of its operating license, Arutz Sheva reported.

Al Jazeera’s Riyadh bureau was shut down on June 8. On June 9, since there is no way to stop satellite beaming, Saudi authorities ordered hotels and other tourist facilities to block all channels related to Al Jazeera, threatening punishment for violators, the report said.

On June 7 and 8, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain announced that any speech sympathetic to Qatar or critical of their governments’ policy towards Qatar would be considered an offense, punished in some cases by prison terms.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia blockaded Qatar, while Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE cut diplomatic ties with Qatar citing Doha’s alleged support of terrorism. Several other countries, including Chad and Senegal, recalled their ambassadors from Doha, while Jordan and Djibouti said they would lower the level of diplomatic contacts with Qatar.

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