Qatar’s Al Jazeera, France’s Macron receive backlash after televised interview

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Qatari news channel Al Jazeera and French President Emmanuel Macron are receiving backlash over the latter’s televised interview on the channel yesterday.

Viewers took to social media to express their thoughts on what they consider to be the channel’s hypocritical decision to air the interview with Macron after the outlet was one of the leading voices in the campaign to boycott French products.

Some argued that Macron’s choice to address the Muslim world through the Qatari channel was rewarding the network for its hate speech and troublemaking in the region.

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The Qatari channel’s figures stated their new position shortly after the interview. Yasser Abu-Hilala, ex-managing director to Al Jazeera and the current consultant, said the French products boycott paid off. “This is how we gave Macron a lesson. The value of the boycott is to be of limited duration and limited goals. An absolute boycott is worthless,” he added.

Journalist Shaikh Walid Al-Salek said Al Jazeera’s coverage over the past weeks incited violence in Muslims’ hearts in France and awakened the phenomenon of Islamophobia. “Abu Hilala wanted, by a political decision from Hamad, to stop the battle with Macron ... [Destroy] the Brotherhood organization, true Islam did not witness anything more dangerous than it,” he said on Twitter.

Another Twitter user considered the TV interview with Macron on Al-Jazeera, nothing but a commercial deal, accusing the channel of considering the interview a scoop for itself in exchange for Al Jazeera to relieve pressure on France. “This scene brings us back to the exclusive scenes that were shown on Al-Jazeera by Al-Qaeda to broadcast its inflammatory messages to their sleeper cells,” he added.

Sources close to Macron said that the French president seeks, in this “long” interview, to “clarify his vision calmly,” with his desire to show that “his statements about fighting isolationism have been distorted and (his statements) about cartoons are often manipulated”.

Macron also received criticism for his decision to be featured on Al Jazeera, which is considered by many a propaganda tool for extremists and Turkey – a nation currently at odds with France.

An Arab journalist criticized Macron, saying he could’ve given a press conference to Muslim journalists rather than perceived as rewarding the radicals who made a mockery of his interview.

On the other hand, some Arab media journalists were shocked; one called Macron “an idiot.”

“How do you call to fight back radicalism, and your choice is to be featured on the most radical media channel in the Middle East? He thinks he is using them. The truth is that they used him. He rewarded the people who for days celebrated the killing of Samuel Paty, and demanded revenge from France and its president, now they say publicly, look we brought him to his knees”, he added.

Macron gave his only interview to a journalist from Al-Jazeera Arabic channel, famous for being the platform for extremist Muslims. Although Macron defended his position that he was not against Muslims, this message was not crucial to Al-Jazeera’s audience and its journalists, who reflected their appreciation that Macron acknowledged and apologized to Muslims. It was not accurate, Macron spent most of his interview trying to explain the values of freedom in France, but the truth was not crucial for Al-Jazeera and its audience.

Al Jazeera broadcasted the interview last Saturday at 16:00 GMT and lasted for about 50 minutes. It is the first interview conducted by the French president since the start of the anti-France campaign by Qatar and its ally Turkey. Radical media kept reporting statements attributed to President Macron that he defended the publication of the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad after the killing of a teacher near Paris.

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