While the Western press has come together in revulsion and sympathy for the murder of the 1o Charlie Hebdo employees and two police officers by Islamic terrorists in Paris Wednesday, there’s one group of London-based journalists that isn’t quite on board yet with the whole “I am Charlie” movement.
In fact, emails leaked to National Review Online would indicate they’d rather proclaim, “I am Al.”
The messages were between Al Jazeera English editor-executive producer Salah-Aldeen Khadr and his staff.
“Please accept this note in the spirit it is intended — to make our coverage the best it can be,” the London-based Khadr wrote Thursday, in the first of a series of internal emails, according to National Review Online. “We are Al Jazeera!”
So much for solidarity. NRO reported:
Below was a list of “suggestions” for how anchors and correspondents at the Qatar-based news outlet should cover Wednesday’s slaughter at the Charlie Hebdo office.
Khadr urged his employees to ask if this was “really an attack on ‘free speech,’” discuss whether “I am Charlie” is an “alienating slogan,” caution viewers against “making this a free speech aka ‘European Values’ under attack binary [sic],” and portray the attack as “a clash of extremist fringes.”
Arab staff members were in total agreement.
“What Charlie Hebdo did was not free speech it was an abuse of free speech in my opinion, go back to the cartoons and have a look at them!” Qatar-based correspondent Mohamed Vall Salem put in. “It’ snot [sic] about what the drawing said, it was about how they said it. I condemn those heinous killings, but I’M NOT CHARLIE.”
But that didn’t mean that everyone was on board. Al Jazeera English’s senior Paris correspondent Jacky Rowland, formerly with the BBC, replied with what she called a “polite reminder” in the form of a hashtag: “#JournalismIsNotACrime.”
That “polite reminder” set off a firestorm. NRO reported:
But her response triggered a furious reaction from another of the network’s Arab correspondents. “First I condemn the brutal killing,” wrote Omar Al Saleh, a “roving reporter” currently on assignment in Yemen. “But I AM NOT CHARLIE.”
“JOURNALISM IS NOT A CRIME [but] INSULTISM IS NOT JOURNALISM,” he raged. “AND NOT DOING JOURNALISM PROPERLY IS A CRIME.”
Here we go with the “insulting Islam” argument again. If your religious faith is such that it can’t take an occasional jab, then it’s probably weak to begin with.
And along that line of thinking, U.S.-based correspondent Tom Ackerman quoted a paragraph from a New York Times column:
“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, and when that scenario obtains it isn’t really a liberal civilization any more….”
If the not-so-friendly back-and-forth messages among Al Jazeera English’s editors and staff illustrate anything, it’s the diametrically opposed values and thinking between the Islamic world and those in the West.
Read the entire transcript of emails at National Review Online.