Middle East

Al Jazeera anchor decries 'smear campaign'

Khadija Bengana says dozens of media outlets carried statements attributed to her in fake social-media accounts.
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2013 23:14
Khadija Bengana says she has no links to Facebook and Twitter accounts purporting to belong to her

A popular Al Jazeera Arabic news presenter has denied any connection to accounts on social-networking sites bearing her name which have carried statements lauding the "humanity" of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, glorifying Nazism and calling for jihad, or holy war, against Israel.

The statements attributed to Khadija Bengana, the presenter, promote violence, hatred and anti-Semitism, and have been circulated by dozens of websites and news outlets in several languages, including French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.

In an interview to Al Jazeera Arabic's website, Bengana, an Algerian national, said she has no links to the Facebook and Twitter accounts purporting to belong to her that were spewing political propaganda.

She says unidentified individuals and organisations had created false accounts on social-media websites in her name to post the controversial statements attributed to her.

She says dozens of media outlets published Facebook posts attributed to her without verifying their authenticity.

"I wrote to the administrations of Facebook and Twitter to cancel the false accounts that have used my name," she says.

She says some of the social-networking accounts that have been using her name "are manipulated by political parties to wage cyber-propaganda campaigns in their quest to win the battle of the Arab Spring".

Facebook statement

Bengana says she has posted a statement on her one and only real Facebook account alerting her audience and the public to the incidents.

"About 30 websites published those false statements in less than 72 hours, such as Yahoo, Russia Al-Yawm and Jewish organisation websites," she told Al Jazeera Arabic's website.

"None of those who published the statements attributed to me took a moment to contact me to verify the information before putting them up."

Speculating on the possible motives behind the campaign, Bengana says: "I think it is aimed at damaging my reputation, undermining my credibility and also the credibility of the organisation I belong to, Al Jazeera.

"Since the start of the Arab Spring, there have been some regimes trying to discredit the journalists of Al Jazeera."

In the interview, Bengana also says this was not the first time that she has faced such an attack.

The recurrence of such incidents has prompted her to initiate legal action through a London-based firm specialising in cybercrimes to stop the unlawful use of her name, she says.


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