BBC suspension of Egyptian reporter for liking tweets attack on freedom of expression: Journalists Syndicate

Baheya Wael , Tuesday 20 Feb 2024

The Egyptian Journalists Syndicate’s board has demanded that BBC reverse its suspension and investigation into veteran Egyptian journalist Sally Nabil after the pro-Israel Daily Telegraph accused her of "antisemitism" for liking two tweets related to Israel.

Sally Nabil
A snap shot of Sally Nabil, BBC Arabic Correspondent in Egypt and the Middle East.


The Journalists Syndicate’s board expressed unwavering support of Nabil, emphasizing that the BBC’s investigation into her is an attack on Arab journalists and a "continuation of the Israeli army’s oppression against Palestinians."

Nabil, a ten-year-old veteran journalist at BBC and a member of the Journalists Syndicate, has been suspended and referred to investigation for violating the BBC’s social media rules by liking anti-Israeli tweets on the social media website X.

Nabil's legal representative, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), said the BBC accused their client of antisemitism.

The syndicate's board asserted that "the investigation infringes upon Nabil's right to freedom of expression," and highlighted that it "symbolizes BBC's double standards," noting that expressions of support for Israel by journalists on social media have not faced similar repercussions.

Furthermore, the syndicate stressed the necessity of prior notification to the syndicate before commencing investigations involving Nabil or any other journalists.

It warned that the lack of such notification makes any actions against the journalist illegal, necessitating appropriate legal recourse by the Syndicate.

Since 7 October, the firm stance by most BBC anchors in promoting the Israeli narrative (Israel has the right to defend itself) and questioning the credibility of any commentator who showed support for the right of the Palestinians to resist the occupation have been decried by many media workers as a tacit endorsement of the declared objectives of Tel Aviv in its genocidal war against the Palestinians in Gaza.

The action taken by BBC against Nabil is the second of its kind by the leading British broadcaster against its staff for public indications of sympathy with the Palestinian cause or solidarity with Gazans under Israeli onslaught since 7 October.  

Last October, catapulted by a similar smearing report published by The Daily Telegraph, the BBC suspended four of its journalists at the Cairo desk, including Nabil, and two at the Beirut desk, also for likes and retweets on pro-Palestine posts on social media.

The Telegraph has based its smear campaigns against journalists who oppose Israeli genocide in Gaza on the word of the so-called Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), which specializes in targeting media workers who criticize Israel or oppose Zionism and engages in campaigns for advocating pro-Israel viewpoints. 

At the time, the BBC accused its six workers of "bias" based on the reposts and likes that they made on their personal X accounts, but tabled the investigation after issuing warnings.

Meanwhile, the EIPR rejected the BBC measures against Nabil, noting that Egyptian labour law protects against the targeting of anyone based on their political views.

The EIPR suggested the BBC took punitive action against Nabil because of her leading role in defending her colleagues who were subjected to discrimination in pay by the BBC administration in London.

Staff at the BBC desk in Cairo staged three strikes to protest unfair pay and discrimination in the last year.

These disputes ended with an agreement brokered by the head of the Journalist Syndicate.

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