A chain of emails, purportedly sent by staffers of Al Jazeera English, claim to show some staff members branding Charlie Hebdo magazine as “racist” and “extremist,” over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
The emails, obtained and released by National Review Online, begin with a message from Executive Producer Salah-Aldeen Khadr, with suggestions on questions that should guide the channel's coverage of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
According to the emails, he wrote, “Was this really an attack on 'Free speech'? Who is attacking free speech here exactly? Does an attack by 2-3 guys on a controversial magazine equate to a civilizational attack on European values..? Really?”
He is also alleged to have described the attack on the magazine as “a clash of extremist fringes,” in what appears to be a reference to both Islamic extremists and Charlie Hebdo.
U.S.-based correspondent Tom Ackerman responded by quoting an excerpt of a New York Times article by Ross Douthat, “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.”
This prompted a response from Doha-based correspondent Mohamed Vall Salem, which concluded: “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! 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”.
The channel's senior Paris correspondent Jacky Rowland responded: “We are Aljazeera. So, a polite reminder: #journalismisnotacrime.”
The exchange concludes with a response from Roving reporter Omar Al Saleh: “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,” (capitalization as per the original).
Al Jazeera has not commented on the veracity of the emails. The Doha-based organization is funded by Qatar's ruling family, and has been expanding from the Middle East into the European and U.S. markets with its English-language TV news channel and website.