Al Jazeera celebrates 21st anniversary amid renewed calls for its closure

Al Jazeera celebrates 21st anniversary amid renewed calls for its closure

QLNews
By QLNews

Al Jazeera, the news channel that Qatar launched 21 years ago has faced immense problems, but continues to plow ahead with no signs of stopping.

Yesterday, the channel celebrated 21 years of it going on air with a grand ceremony, attended by HH The Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Al Jazeera English’s Managing Director Giles Trendle said that Al Jazeera as an idea cannot be shut down despite the strong campaigns going on against it.

“This newsroom has transformed the media landscape the world over — but it’s come at a price. Many of the journalists here have friends or colleagues who’ve sacrificed a great deal for the sake of what they consider to be sacrosanct — the right of people to be informed,” he said, according to Gulf Times.

“Regardless of the continued campaigns against Al Jazeera as a network, Al Jazeera as an idea cannot be shut down,” he said, referring to one of the 13 demands by four blockading countries, who has been putting up an illegal siege of Qatar since June 5.

This year’s anniversary comes as Mahmoud Hussein, one of the network’s journalists, remains in an Egyptian jail for over 300 days. Hussein, an Egyptian national based in Qatar, was detained while on holiday in December, 2016.

A number of human rights and Press freedom groups have joined Al Jazeera in condemning Mahmoud’s ongoing detention. 

HH The Emir Sheikh Tamim had shot down the idea of ever shuttering the channel during a recent interview with American news show 60 Minutes.   

“When you tell me to close a channel like Al Jazeera, history will write one day in 50, 60 or 70 years how it changed the whole idea of free speech in the region,” he had said.

On November 1, 1996, Al Jazeera's Arabic-language satellite channel launched its first broadcast from Doha.

Al Jazeera English was established in 2006 and has since won a host of prestigious awards from organisations around the world.

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