There has been an increase in incitement and hatred speech among people in the chaos of the media sectors, especially the new ones. This led to violence, chaos, disputes and malice inside societies, especially Arab ones. In line with our belief in the constructive role of freedom of expression and the media in resisting violence and extremism and as a responsibility to restore values of tolerance and create appropriate environments for freedom of opinion and expression, Skyline International monitors the campaign of incitement and hatred in the Middle East. II.
Concept and definitions
- Incitement: someone who drives another to do something after provoking his/her feelings
- Bigotry: a position, feeling or belief in which an individual expresses disdain towards other individuals or groups based on characteristics such as race, colour, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, and political or religious belief
- Hate speech: spreading hatred and
inciting sectarian and regional conflicts.
- It is an act of incitement to deny the existence and humanity to others, marginalizing it, spreading sedition, using methods of intimidation, choosing offensive words, high voices against religious or ethnic groups, and provoking violence and accusing the other of corruption and treason.
- In its definition of hate speech, the European Council added that it is possible to criticize religious groups and sects, but not to use insulting words or expressions that go beyond the limits of public morality and spoil the public taste.
Incitement and hatred in international law :
Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:
1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations of 1948 states that “all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.”
Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations of 1948 states:
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Methodology of the report:
– The methodology focuses on conducting extensive research on media violations in the Middle East between January 1 and 31, 2019.
– The media has been classified into three sectors: newspapers, TV channels and websites. It is a consistent methodology to be adopted in monitoring reports. It is important to note that the monitoring of January showed that the violations were extensive in the visual media (television channels)
– The report is based on the assumption of a specific geographic map of incitement and hate speech in the Middle East, whose borders are concentrated in countries whose internal and surrounding conditions have been fertile environments for the growth of violations. They are 15 countries: Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Turkey, Israel.
– The report is supposed to monitor 30 violations in each geographical area of the above-mentioned countries, with a total of 450 violations in all countries in January 2019. It is included under ‘incitement and hate’ speech. The Observatory does not see that the total number of such violations is exaggerated given the reality that is reflected by the media in these countries. We believe that further inspection, monitoring and follow-up will confirm these numbers or even more.
1. TV channels:
Visual media is the most effective means of communication because people are usually attracted to what they see and hear more than what they read. There is almost no home without a television or radio. Thus, this sector is very important because it is an effective and influential way to shape and guide the public’s opinions.
Abu Dhabi TV Channel (UAE)
A study published by the UAE University of Sharjah in 2017 shows that the UAE ranks tenth in the Arab world in the number of satellite channels with 15 satellite channels. It was originally launched in 1969. It broadcasts from Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates and is owned by Abu Dhabi Media. Although it is a generic channel and not a 24-hour news network, Abu Dhabi TV is famous for its coverage of the 2003 Iraq War broadcast on Western news channels at the time.
Abu Dhabi TV is managed by the United Arab Emirates’ largest media group, Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC).  ADMC, the largest and most diverse media corporation in the Arab world, enjoys editorial and administrative independence while certain dependence on government and federal funding through its previous attachment to the Ministry of Information and Culture since 1999 and current attachment to Abu Dhabi Media Company in which the ministry was scrapped in Feb. 2006. EMI operations currently include 3 satellite television channels, 7 radio channels and 3 press publications.
Abu Dhabi is a channel that produces and broadcasts a wide range of programs, including a program called “Raheeq Al Eman” presented by the Islamic preacher, Waseem Yousif, whose speech included several clues of hatred and incitement after the end of the UAE- Qatar football match in the 2019 Asian Cup final. He said: “The winner (meaning Qatar) came out of an Arab system marked by treachery, you came out of the Gulf system with your betrayal, conspiracy, and your dirty media.”
The channel follows the MBC Group, which was launched in 1991 in London and is headquartered in Dubai Media City in the United Arab Emirates.
MBC’s coverage of the Asian Cup included racist violations without evidence to diminish the role of Qatar to achieve political goals. Its statement on January 30, 2019 was carrying the title ‘The suffering of Qatar’s naturalized athletes in sports’. It commented: “They are thrown to the unknown directly after the end of their role.”
Alkass Qatari Channel:
Alkass is a national sports channel, one of 12 television broadcast channels owned by the State of Qatar. On this channel, the Omani commentator Khalil Balochi’s speech included an insult of the Emirate team during the match between Qatar and the UAE in the semi-finals of the Asian Cup. “With the red seal, Hassan Al-Haydos, stepped on them”, the commentator shouted after the Qatari team scored the third goal.
Assuming that this violation is repeated on all TV channels in the specific geographical area (Qatar), or in the light of the Gulf crisis, with an average of 3 out of 15 news stories published by each of the “public freedoms” news channels (450), the rate of violations within the State of Qatar can be estimated at an average of 8%.
The Tunisian channel (Al-Hewar):
Tunisia has 39 new television channels, and channel Al-Hewar is one of the most important.
The talk in the program “Serious Matters” broadcast by channel Al Hewar included a mockery of the Egyptian star Mohamed Salah, sparking signs of ‘strife’ between the Egyptians and Tunisians.
Tunisian comedian Karim Al-Gharbi responded sarcastically to the questions of the program’s host Alaa Al-Shabi in an imitation of Mohammed Salah’s personality in the last week’s episode.
Tunisia TV Channel:
The former leader of the Tunisian ‘Nidaa Party’, Lazhar Al-Akrami, appeared in an advertisement for the program “La Classe”, which is broadcast by “Tunisna” channel, which sharply criticizes his political opponents. He plays a public figure and answers the questions of children in the program, regardless of its nature.
He described some of his opponents as “evil” and accused others of treason and tax evasion. These accusations exacerbate Tunisia’s social and political society and provoke hostilities.
The Egyptian LTC Channel
Egypt ranks second in the Arab world, after Saudi Arabia, in the number of television channels, with 98 channels, including the LTC channel.
The Egyptian broadcaster, Mohamed Ghaiti, hosted a young man mocking religions.
The Egyptian Channel Baldna
An interview with the Egyptian journalist, Ahmed Moussa, on the channel “Baldna” included violations of international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by talking about the recent match between Qatar and Japan in the Asian Cup.
“We are facing a challenge from two non-Arab teams, Japan and Qatar,” he said on January 31, 2019. “Qatar is not an Arab country and its national team that includes different nationalities from the whole world has stolen the match”, he added.
This applies to the “Al-Balad” channel in relation to the percentage of violations in the case of the Egyptian LTC channel, since the two channels operate in a single geographical area, which enhances our default ratio of violations related to incitement and hate speech.
The Seventh Israeli Channel
Israel broadcasts 14 television channels, including Channel “7”.
The talk of the seventh Israeli channel included an incitement against the Palestinian Rachida Taleb, who became a member of the US Congress for the Democratic Party. They accused her of “anti-Semitism” adding that “she may blow up the building of Congress”. The channel said in January 2019 that “Taleb took pictures of her with Abbas Hamida known for his hostility against Israel and support of Hezb Allah”.
2. Written Media: Newspapers
Al Itihad UAE newspaper
In the United Arab Emirates, eight paper-based newspapers, including Al-Ittihad, which is a federal newspaper as stated in its licensing decree, are issued in Abu Dhabi by the Emirates Media Corporation. The first journal was issued on 20 October 1969.
In the context of the violations, the front page of the newspaper featured a sex-based caricature of the Qatar team, which consists of a sample of naturalized players who are not of Qatari origin. This is a clear example of a violation of international laws and human rights.
In the caricature, many characters appear to belong to different countries, most of whom do not speak Arabic, and talk about how to play with Qatar’s shirt and how much they will be paid in return.
The Website of “Voice of Palestine Radio”:
There are 41 radio stations licensed by the Palestinian Ministry of Information and documented by the National Information Center (Wafa). The figure also includes Radio Voice of Palestine. Most of the stations have websites too.
On January 17, 2019, the Voice of Palestine Radio published a statement by the Minister of Local Government in Palestine, Hussein Al-A’araj, on the opposition parties to the Social Security Law: It stated: “The one who leads the movement against social security law resides in Kiryat Arba and Hebron, I am responsible for what I say.”
Al-A’araj’s statement includes a dispraise of those who demand amendments to the law since they live in an area that is considered to be an Israeli settlement built on Palestinian land.
This report shows that there is a high and remarkable level of “incitement and hatred” in the media in its three sectors (visual, written and electronic). There are no explanations or reasons justifying it as it is an explicit violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Human rights of the United Nations in 1948, and all the conventions, laws and customs that call for respect for individual freedom, opinions and beliefs.
The majority of the violations contained in the report included ‘harsh, sectarian and racist contentions and expressions, accusations without arguments, calls for revenge and exclusion, lack of respect for the individual’s freedom and dignity’ and, most importantly, confusion between the commentary and the news, and an unjustified violation of the rules of the media profession in favour of narrow political conflicts.
It should be noted that the report included a sample of the traditional media, in which the speech of incitement and hatred is widely published. Together with new media, traditional media access rates increased to double the figures or more. It means that it created new spaces for the spread of the discourse of “incitement and hatred”. It created an environment that is not governed by regulations or laws or even ‘professional ethics’ which allowed the growth of violations related to incitement and the consequent damage and denial of basic rights to the public in the Middle East.
A review of media performance discourse is required based on the importance of the monitoring included in this report. A number of recommendations can be mentioned, the most important of which are following:
– Reviving and disseminating codes of conduct for media professionals.
– Prepare a special note for politicians using the language that raises the values of tolerance.
– Establishment of a media observatory to widely monitor the environment of hate speech.