Islamic Human Rights Commission
5th January 2004
Alert: Demand Al-Jazeera.net reinstate Shaista Aziz
IHRC is deeply concerned at the sacking of a second UK journalist in two months by Al-Jazeera’s English news website in Doha, Qatar. The dismissal of Shaista Aziz who was given her notice on the 1st January this year follows that of Yvonne Ridley just two months ago.
Despite successfully passing her three month probationary period and being told so by her immediate supervisor, Ahmed Sheikh, in the presence of several members of staff, the official reason cited for her dismissal was professional incompetence.
Recently, Ms Aziz had made a formal complaint of sexual harassment against a male colleague. It has now emerged that the allegations will not be investigated further as Ms Aziz is no longer an Al-Jazeera employee.
It is wholly unacceptable and completely unjust that an investigation into sexual harassment should be discontinued solely because the alleged victim is fired.
Shaista Aziz was an outspoken member of the Al-Jazeera team, opposing controversial new staff contracts and pushing for union representation for the group. She frequently wrote articles regarding the situation in Palestine and Iraq which exposed the hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy.
Contact Mr. Jihad Ballout, the spokesman for Al-Jazeera and demand,
a) that Ms Aziz be reinstated immediately; and
b) that the investigation into allegations by Ms. Aziz of sexual harassment against be recommenced.
Mr. Jihad Ballout email@example.com
cc: copy to the Al-Mahmoud, chief editor on firstname.lastname@example.org
Please find a sample letter below.
Mr. Jihad Ballout
Dear Mr. Ballout:
Re: Dismissal of Shaista Aziz
I am writing to express my deep concern at the dismissal of Shaista Aziz, and indeed Yvonne Ridley by Al-Jazeera.net earlier this month.
I understand that the official reason given for Ms Aziz’s dismissal was that she was not deemed to be competent for the job following her three month probation period. I also understand that her immediate supervisor, Mr. Ahmed Sheikh, had previously informed her that she had successfully passed her probation. There is a glaring inconsistency here which warrants further investigation.
I believe that Ms Aziz had recently made a formal complaint of sexual harassment against a male colleague. It now seems that these allegations will not be investigated further as Ms Aziz is no longer an Al-Jazeera employee. It is wholly unacceptable and completely unjust that an investigation into sexual harassment should be discontinued solely because the alleged victim is fired. If a member of the Al-Jazeera team is actually guilty of sexual harassment, Ms Aziz’s employment status should not be a decisive factor in dealing with him.
Ms Aziz’s dismissal is completely unjustified and as such I urge you to reinstate her immediately. I also demand that the allegations of sexual harassment initiated by Ms Aziz be pursued with full vigour, regardless of Ms Aziz’s employment status.
I look forward to hearing from you regarding the action you have taken in this matter.
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Holy Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75
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