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Sacked Palestine journalist decries Deutsche Welle as biased

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BERLIN: Maram Salam, a Palestinian journalist fired by Germany’s international broadcaster for alleged anti-Semitic views, has strongly criticised the management for unfair treatment and censoring freedom of speech.

“I’m not anti-Semitic. I am someone who believes in freedom of speech,” Maram Salem said in an exclusive interview with a Turkish media outlet on Thursday, adding that criticism on Israeli policies does not amount to anti-Semitism.

Deutsche Welle announced earlier this week that it fired five journalists from DW’s Arabic service after its two-month investigation into allegations of anti-Semitism.

Salem dismissed allegations against her as “a scandal”, saying that she has always defended democratic principles, freedom of expression and religion, and human rights.

The young journalist said Deutsche Welle’s investigation was not conducted in an impartial and objective manner, and was also used by the management as a tool to justify a pre-determined outcome.

“In my case, my post was about freedom of speech in Europe. I criticised the situation in Europe,” she said, adding that her Facebook post, which was investigated by the management, did not even mention Jews or Israel.

“Germany (says) it supports freedom of speech, but (my) saying that there is no freedom of speech in Europe was enough for them to suspend me and actually accuse me of being anti-Semitic,” she said.

The journalist pointed out that anti-Semitism allegations were often used to limit freedom of expression and restrict criticism of Israel’s policies and actions.

“There’s a lot of red lines that you really can’t talk about it here when it comes to Israel. And I think it’s absurd, at least (for me) as a Palestinian who lived in the (occupied) West Bank for most of her life, that even saying normal stuff about what Israel is doing in the West Bank and (blockaded) Gaza, can be and will be held against me in Germany,” she said.

Deutsche Welle has long been criticised for its biased coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict, as its management argues that Germany bears special responsibility for the country, due to the Nazi crimes committed against Jews during World War II.

Last year, DW’s editorial board sent a new reporting guide to its staff further restricting critical reporting of Israel, and according to a new press release, it is now planning to sharpen its code of conduct, with more focus on anti-Semitism, Israel’s right to exist and Germany’s historical responsibility.

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