Pakistani politician apologises for backing sacked CNN journalist

Pakistani politician apologises for backing sacked CNN journalist

May 17, 2021

Imran Khan’s right-hand man apologises after supporting CNN contributor in row over ‘The world today needs a Hitler’ tweet

  • CNN reporter Adeel Raja was fired after tweeting that ‘the world needs a new Hitler’ amid fighting between Israel and Hamas  
  • Mirza Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani politician and top adviser to Imran Khan, said Akbar’s sacking was a blow to ‘impartial journalism’  
  • His remarks prompted a fierce backlash from critics, forcing him to apologise 
  • Fighting between Israel and Hamas has killed at least 211 people in the last week 

Mirza Shahzad Akbar, a top Pakistani politician who meets with UK government officials, lent support to sacked CNN reporter

One of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s closest advisors has apologised after endorsing a TV journalist who said the world ‘needs a new Hitler’ amid clashes between Israel and Hamas.

Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Mr Khan’s right-hand man, had jumped to the defence of CNN reporter Adeel Raja after he was sacked over the tweet which he posted Sunday.

Mr Akbar, who meets with British government officials including Home Secretary Priti Patel, described the sacking as an attack on ‘impartial journalism’ in a tweet.

That drew a fierce backlash from senior media figures in Pakistan, forcing Mr Akbar to issue an apology.

Mr Akbar had written: ‘Losing @CNN job for @adeelraja is less of a financial loss for him than for CNN losing credibility for impartiality in journalism.’ 

The former editor of national newspaper Dawn Abbas Nasir responded, saying: ‘Are you also a fan of the genocidal Hitler? Please confirm.’

Imran Khan’s former wife Reham Khan tweeted: ‘Unbelievable that Imran Khan’s closest aide and minister literally glorifying Hitler and anti-Semitism.

‘This is unacceptable and this will harm Pakistan. Glorification of Hitler and genocide of Jewish people is not impartial journalism, its incitement of terrorism.’

Mr Akbar tweeted out in support for journalist Adeel Raja after he was fired for saying the world ‘need a new Hitler’ amid violence between Israel and Hamas

Reham Khan, Imran’s ex-wife, said it is ‘unbelievable’ that Mr Akbar – a top adviser to the Pakistani PM – is ‘glorifying Hitler and anti-Semitism’

Hamza Azhar Salem,editor of The Pakistan Daily tweeted: ‘Extremely shocked to see a govt official @ShazadAkbar condoning Hitler and the holocaust. Such blatant anti semitism does not help the Palestinian cause. 

‘The glorification of Hitler by @adeelraja and Shahzad Akbar does not represent the views of the Pakistani nation.’

Waseem Abbasi, of Urdu News, which has millions of online followers, told Mr Akbar that praising Hitler did not help the Palestinian cause and instead harmed it.

Leading Pakistani Human Rights activist Meena Gabeena accused Mr Akbar of endorsing Jewish hatred and conspiracy theories.

Adeel Raja, who had contributed to CNN since 2013, was sacked following the tweet, which he sent on Sunday

Mr Akbar then deleted his pro-Hitler tweet and issued a clarification: ‘To clarify my earlier tweet, there is no doubt in my mind about Hitler being a maniac having committed genocide of Jews.

‘However what #Israel is doing in #GazaUnderAttak is not less than a Genocide of #Palestinian World needs to condemn Israeli actions in Palestine on similar level.’

Sources said Mr Akbar and Raja were close friends and the under-fire journalist was a supporter of Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

Raja hit back after his CNN sacking today Tweeting: ‘Glad a single tweet contributed to the #Palestine cause and brought it to limelight with me losing my job and the West’s claim of Freedom of expression and human rights!’ 

In a statement, CNN officials said Adeel Raja’s ‘reporting contributed to some newsgathering efforts from Islamabad. 

‘However, in light of these abhorrent statements, he will not be working with CNN again in any capacity.’

Raja, who appears to have worked as a freelance contributor for CNN since 2013, tweeted the anti-Semitic remark at around 12:45 p.m. Sunday, and deleted it at around 3:15 p.m. 

Raja had been working with CNN in Islamabad, Pakistan since August 2013, according to his LinkedIn profile.

On Sunday, he came under fire for tweeting ‘The world today needs a Hitler,’ seemingly in response to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine

He is also an executive producer at Pakistani ARY News which airs in the UK under the company name New Vision Television Limited (NVTV). 

Many Twitter users had called for CNN to fire him and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to ban him from the social media site after his latest tweet.

Until this weekend’s filing of the outrageous Hitler call, Twitter had taken no action against the openly anti-Jewish reporter.

Donald Trump Jr. waded into the row on Twitter when he posted: ‘Hey @CNN this seems to be one of yours, but I imagine that surprises no one anymore.’

In 2014, while watching the FIFA World Cup, Raja tweeted: ‘The only reason I am supporting Germany in the finals — Hitler was a German and he did good with those Jews.’ The next day, he tweeted: ‘Hail Hitler.’

The Pakistani Prime Minister was said to have come under ‘huge pressure’ to force Akbar to withdraw his support for Raja.

A source said: ‘After Imran’s remarks about women and rape which caused a lot of anger, this is the last thing he needed.

‘It is so embarrassing for him, particularly as he has spent much of his life in the West and has Jewish friends friends in the UK. He needs to tell his ministers to shut up and stop speaking nonsense.’

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