Tunisian journalists quit jobs in French media over Gaza war

Tunisian journalists quit jobs in French media over Gaza war

Sources from within the BBC say workers in the Arabic service offices have contacted the administration requesting balanced coverage. [Getty]

Three Tunisian journalists have announced their resignation from several Western media outlets in protest of their coverage of Israel’s brutal war on Gaza.

“Since 7 October, I and my Tunisian colleague and friend Amani Oueslati decided to resign from Canal +,”  wrote Tunisian journalist Achouak Hannachi on Facebook Wednesday, 18 October. “Our craftsmanship, our education, and our support for the Palestinian cause are not for compromise,”  she added.

Oueslati was working for Canal + channel. Hannachi was part of the French channel Cnews, a conservative television that belongs to the media group Canal+.

Like many other Western media, Cnews displayed uninhibited support for Israel since the start of its new war on Gaza war on 7 October and also argued in support of the Israel army’s attack on Palestinians trapped in Gaza, which many now describe as “crimes against humanity” and “crimes of genocide”.

The French channel, in which far-right figure Eric Zemmour used to co-host a program, has a history of “biased content.” 

In 2021, the French Superior Audiovisual Council (CSA) sanctioned Cnews for broadcasting hate speech against minor migrants.

The two Tunisian journalists announced their resignation a few hours after the BBC correspondent of North Africa, Bassem Bounneni, made his resignation from the British group public.

“This morning, I submitted my resignation from the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, for the sake of my professional conscience,” wrote Bounneni in Arabic on the X platform.

Bounenni, who is based in Tunis and has covered the Middle East and North African affairs for 15 years – previously with Sky News Arabia and Al Jazeera – said the decision to quit his role was over the corporation’s coverage of Israel war on Gaza.

“Have you thought of what it might cost? I’ve thought of the humiliation if we just tamely submit, knuckle under and crawl,” added Bounenni later in what seems a further explanation of his resignation.

The BBC, a publically owned corporation, has received a barrage of complaints for its reporting on the Gaza war. 

A day before the bombing of the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, the BBC aired a discussion on whether there are Hamas tunnels under hospitals and schools in the Gaza Strip. 

For many, the discussion, which was based on speculations only and no concrete proof, legitimised a reported Israeli attack on the hospital that day that killed at least 470 people. Israel denied that it struck the hospital and blamed the massacre on Palestinian armed groups. It should be noted Israel routinely denies any crimes its forces have conducted. 

Sources from within the BBC say workers in the Arabic service offices (Amman, Cairo, Beirut, and London) have contacted the administration requesting balanced coverage, but the administration has so far ignored their appeals. 

The Al-Ahli Hospital massacre was a decisive moment for many people from the global south who work for Western companies who were forced to choose between their commitment to the Palestinian cause and their careers.

Tunisian social media platform expert Ahmed Qobaa announced his resignation Wednesday from membership in the Middle East and Africa Leaders Council of Meta, a group affiliated with Meta, which aims to support young entrepreneurs. 

Qubaa said, in a post on Facebook, that his resignation came after Meta deleted more than 795,000 posts related to the unfolding war in Gaza.

While some could afford a public resignation, others are still calculating the odds of preserving their integrity or a career they worked for their whole life.

“I was called for a disciplinary meeting merely because I posted a Palestinian flag on my social media. It’s unbearable working here if you believe in the Palestinians’ rights to live,” said a France-based Algerian worker in a communication agency who spoke to TNA on condition of anonymity.

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