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Egyptian BBC Reporter Sally Nabil Suspended After Liking Pro-Palestinian Tweets

February 21, 2024
Snapshopt of Sally Nabil Image Credit: BBC

The Egyptian Journalists Syndicate denounced the British Broadcasting Channel for suspending veteran correspondent Sally Nabil.

Nabil’s suspension came days after British media outlets – first brought up by The Telegraph on 5 February – accused her of “antisemitism” for her liking tweets in support of Palestine.

“The [Syndicate’s] Freedom Committee reaffirms its full solidarity with the colleague, who was referred for investigation on charges of bias, emphasising that what happened to her represents targeting by the institution against Arab journalists,” the Syndicate expressed in a Facebook statement posted on 15 February.

Nabil, who boasts a decade-long career at the BBC and is a Syndicate member, was suspended and subjected to an ongoing investigation for purportedly violating the company’s social media guidelines by liking “antisemitic” content on the platform X (formerly known as Twitter).

“The committee emphasises that the repeated referral of the colleague for investigation, which was preceded by the referral of other colleagues for the same reason at the beginning of the Zionist aggression, in addition to the unprofessional and biased coverage by the institution, reveals its bias towards Zionist aggression,” the statement added.

The Syndicate’s statement asserted its full support for Nabil and demanded the BBC revoke its decision, which it deemed an attack on Arab journalists and a “continuation of the Israeli army’s oppression against Palestinians.”

The organisation also contended that the suspension infringes upon journalists’ freedom of expression and underscores the BBC’s selective enforcement, highlighting that pro-Israel sentiments expressed by colleagues on social media did not face similar repercussions.

Representatives from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), serving as Nabil’s legal counsel, revealed that BBC levelled accusations of antisemitism against their client.

Rejecting the British broadcaster’s actions against Nabil, the EIPR emphasised the Egyptian labour law’s protection against targeting individuals based on political views. Nabil’s legal representatives suggest that punitive action against Nabil could be linked to her advocacy for colleagues in Cairo facing discrimination in pay from BBC’s Headquarters in London.

Additionally, the statement emphasised the importance of news companies notifying the Syndicate before investigating journalists – warning that the absence of doing so renders any actions against the journalist unlawful and necessitates legal recourse.

In a similar incident last October, the BBC investigated four journalists at its Cairo desk, including Nabil, and two at the Beirut desk, for likes and retweets of pro-Palestine content on social media. The investigation was spurred by a similar smear report from The Telegraph.

Since 7 October, the BBC’s alleged pro-Israel stance and scepticism towards commentators supporting Palestinian resistance has drawn criticism, seen as endorsing Tel Aviv’s objectives in the Gaza conflict by other media outlets and researchers.

In November 2023, a month after the war on Gaza began, eight Britain-based BBC journalists sent a letter to Al Jazeera, accusing their employer of double standards in its coverage of Ukraine compared to Palestine.

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