Restrictions on freedom of expression permitted to protect security



Thu, 13 Jul 2017 - 12:09 GMT


Thu, 13 Jul 2017 - 12:09 GMT

Anwar Gargash - CC via Wikipedia

Anwar Gargash - CC via Wikipedia

ABU DHABI – 13 July 2017: UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash has sent a letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Qatar’s Al Jazeera’s persistent promotion of extremist ideologies, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

"While the protection of the right of freedom of expression is of fundamental importance, this protection is not absolute, and restrictions on the right are permitted under the international law to protect national security and public order," the minister said in a letter he sent to Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in response to a statement made by the High Commissioner’s spokesperson on June 30.

The minister’s letter also referred to a statement made on June 28 by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, on "the reported demand by a number of governments that Qatar close the Al-Jazeera media network."

"Freedom of expression cannot be used to justify and shield the promotion of extremist narratives," the letter notes. The minister on this score recalls UN Security Council Resolution 1624 (2005), a historic resolution that focused on messages that often precede acts of terrorism and call on States to prohibit and prevent incitement to commit terrorist acts.

The letter refers to the Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Countering Violent Extremism adopted by the Special Rapporteur and several regional and human rights bodies, which recognizes that States may restrict reporting that is intended to incite imminent violence, and where there is a direct and immediate connection between the reporting and the likelihood or occurrence of such violence.

In this regard, the letter makes clear that Al Jazeera’s reporting has repeatedly crossed the threshold of incitement to hostility, violence and discrimination, and lists several examples of such content.

For instance, on 18th February 2008, following the re-publication of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed, Al Jazeera TV broadcast a speech by the spokesman for the Salah al-Din brigades in Gaza that called on Muslims to "burn down the offices of the newspapers that affronted our Prophet, and bomb them so that body parts go flying".

The minister reiterated that the UAE’s strong objections to Al Jazeera are not a matter of disagreement on its editorial standpoints, but are a direct and necessary response to its persistent and dangerous incitement to hostility, violence and discrimination.

In light of the alarming examples quoted in the letter, these objections are legitimate, well founded and reasonable.

The letter concludes with an invitation to the High Commissioner to discuss additional cases of Al Jazeera’s promotion of extremist ideologies and ways to protect the right of freedom of expression in the face of such egregious abuses.



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