Opinion Editorials, January 2006, To see today's opinion articles, click here: www.aljazeerah.info
Al-Jazeerah Enters its 5th Year: Hope Continues Despite Challenges and Detractions
By Hassan Ali El-Najjar
Al-Jazeerah, January 24, 2006
Last year, I wrote an editorial article commemorating the third birthday of Al-Jazeerah, readers can find its link below. (1) I ended the article with the following paragraph:
"Now, after writing what I have written above, I have also to say that the path was anything but rosy. Founding, editing, and running Al-Jazeerah with its position of promoting world peace and opposing imperialist wars and occupations has not proven to be an easy job, particularly because it's published in the US. It's time for Al-Jazeerah readers to know about the challenges and the problems that Al-Jazeerah and its founder-editor have gone through during the past three years. But this will be the subject of another article about Al-Jazeerah."
I expressed my intention to tell readers about the challenges and problems that I faced, as a result of founding and editing Al-Jazeerah. However, I did not write about that during the entire year of 2005. It's time to do the job.
Before the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, I received thousands of emails that can be described as hate mail or mail including threats. The bulk of it was from supporters of the Israeli occupation who could not tolerate a news publication like Al-Jazeerah, which reported on the daily suffering of the Palestinian people under the Israeli occupation. They were used to the likes of the corporate media they controlled, which only dehumanized Palestinian victims and glorified their Israeli oppressive occupiers.
Another category of emails containing hate or threats came from people who would express extreme intolerance against Islam, Muslims, and Arabs. These would use cursing words, racial and ethnic slurs, and stereotypical labels not only against Arabs and Muslims in general but also against the Prophet, peace be upon him, and against Almighty Allah, praise to Him.
Hate and threatening emails increased and intensified during the few months that preceded the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, in reaction to the incitement of the corporate media against Arabs and Muslims.
During the first three weeks of the war, I was not able to read the daily mail, which was in thousands a day, simply because I devoted all my time to the publication of the news about the war. Al-Jazeerah had more than a million hits everyday, and in some days of the war the hits exceeded two millions.
The hardest moment for me was on April 9, 2003, when the webhosting company, hostsave.com, turned down the Al-Jazeerah server, as a result millions of hits the server was receiving. On that day also several media units were hit in Baghdad and several famous internet websites were hacked, controlled by hackers, or closed by webhosts.
It took me about two more weeks to migrate Al-Jazeerah to a new server. By that time, the war was over. Then, I started to receive tens of thousands of spam emails everyday, in an apparent attempt to cripple my email, but the webhosting company was able to solve the problem.
As Iraqis began resistance to the US occupation of their country, I started to receive hate and threatening emails again. These would increase in number and intensify in content everytime US soldiers were killed, or hostages taken, and particularly following beheading of hostages. It seems that senders of those emails found in Al-Jazeerah.info the Arab or Muslim destination they were looking for to vent their anger or frustration.
I thought about publishing all these hate and threatening emails but I decided not to for two main reasons. First, if I published them, it would be like I'm giving them a forum from which they attack Arabs and Muslims, which would trigger a counter response from Arab and Muslim readers. Then, Al-Jazeerah would not be doing its main mission of promoting world peace. Second, I did not publish them in order to protect the privacy of the senders, so they may not be hurt, despite the hate and threats they expressed.
I answered hundreds of these emails whenever there was the slightest possible opportunity for a common ground or communication, like a hate email that included a question or an email that included wrong information. It should be mentioned here that most of Al-Jazeerah contributors and even some senders of letters to the editor received hate or threat emails.
While most of these emails attacked Arabs, Muslims, and the Islamic religion, many of them attacked me personally, and described Al-Jazeerah with various negative attributes. The climax was a media campaign against me and Al-Jazeerah in North Georgia media and even in national media, which I addressed in my editorial published on April 17, 2003.(2) I have been receiving requests for interviews from various US media ever since but I have not accepted to give any because of my early negative experience with them, which showed their intent to incite their audiences against me and against Al-Jazeerah.
Aljazeera TV of Qatar Joins the Detractors of Al-Jazeerh.info:
The last thing I could imagine was receiving threats from Aljazeera TV of Qatar at the same time I was passing through the above-mentioned daily threats. I received a letter from George Doumar, who presented himself as an attorney representing Aljazeera TV in Washing D.C. The letter was written on April 7, 2003, around the same time Aljazeera TV offices were bombed in Baghdad, their website was controlled by hackers, and Al-Jazeerah.info was shut down. Doumar's letter turned to be motivated by the news that Al-Jazeerah.info had millions of readers a day during the war. His client thought that I was collecting millions of dollars. They wanted to collect the money!
Anyway, according to George Doumar, the Qatari government, which owns the world-wide famous Aljazeera TV station, wanted me to stop the publication of Al-Jazeerah.info or they would take me to court, contesting my right to use the name of Al-Jazeerah. I rejected their threats categorically arguing that they have no more right than I do to use the name.
For the historical record, I'm publishing the letters I received from their attorney in Washington, D.C., and my reply to it.
On December 2004, I received threats from another Aljazeera TV attorney, Ms. Lara Ababneh, who is headquartered in Dubai, UAE, demanding that Al-Jazeerah.info stop publication, which I rejected, too. But Ms. Ababneh was different from Doumar in expressing intent to acquire Al-Jazeerah.info.
Readers can find the exchange of letters below. What's strange about both attorneys was that they would not write back after receiving my replies to their letters.
As Al-Jazeerah enters its fifth year, I feel that it is mature and stable enough to withstand such challenges and threats and to continue its noble mission of promoting world peace through scrutinizing government policies and promoting peaceful solutions to international problems instead of wars. This noble mission, particularly the promotion of peace and educating Americans about their government's foreign policy in the Arab and Muslim worlds, has given me the strength to continue despite all the odds, distractions, challenges, and problems.
Of course I have not been able to withstand all these challenges without the support of thousands of readers who sent letters, millions of readers who kept using the free services of Al-Jazeerah, and most important the persistent contributions of the authors who have identified with Al-Jazeerah.
To all of them, let me say thank you, and together we will continue to make a difference until the world becomes a better place for us, for our children, and for future generations.
1. Al-Jazeerah Enters its 4th Year: Challenges, Hope and Peace, I By Hassan Ali El-Najjar (January 24, 2005).
2. Al-Jazeerah editor threatened, media campaign against Al-Jazeerah (April 17, 2003).
Paxon LLP Law Offices
Dr. Hassan El-Najjar
P. O. Box 724
Dalton, GA 30722
I represent Qatar Public
Satellite Corporation, a D.C. corporation that does business in the United
States as Al Jazeera Satellite Channel ("Al Jazeera"). Al Jazeera is
in turn owned indirectly by the Government of Qatar, and has invested
substantial effort and funds, in the hundreds of millions of dollars, building up
the trade name Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera has had offices
in the United States since at least 1998.
Your website Al Jazeerah
clearly attempts to take advantage of a perceived association with Al Jazeera
Satellite Channel. The names are spelled the same in Arabic, your website claims
millions of hits a day, and you are even soliciting funds from readers of your
Al Jazeerah site. In doing so, you are siphoning off potential readers,
customers and funds from my client, the real Al Jazeera.
Copyright law grants to the
person first using a name in a certain line of business the exclusive right to
continue using that name over other potential competitors, and to obtain relief
to force the users of confusingly similar names to stop. Because Al Jazeera has
invested over five years of effort and hundreds of millions of dollars in
building up its name, and because Al Jazeera began to use the name long before
you were doing so, Al Jazeera has a right under the law to use the name
Thus, we demand that you
cease using the name Al Jazeerah on the internet, or in any other media-related
activities. Although your website states that it is not associated with Al
Jazeera, you are trying to obtain customers, and funds, based on your website's
name, which is confusingly close to the real Al Jazeera. Please stop using the
name immediately. If you persist in infringing Al Jazeera's legal rights, we
will have to seek legal action to force you to stop using the name. In such case
we will also seek money damages, and I am confident that we will at the least
obtain a judgment for all funds that you have obtained through your website.
Please contact me with any
George A. Doumar
Paxon LLP Law Offices
818 N Street NW, Suite 400,
Washington DC 20036
P.O. Box 724, Dalton, GA 30722, USA
March 30, 2004
Mr. George Doumar
Paxon LLP Law Offices
818 N Street NW, Suite 400, Washington DC 20036
Dear Mr. George Doumar,
Thank you for your letter dated April 17, 2003. My reply to your letter hinges on the following facts:
First, domain names are created and sold in the United States by Network Solutions and other companies. It is a perfectly legal process that encourages competition and creativity in the market. This is how I created aljazeerah.info, aljazeerah.us, and aljazeerah.tv. The three of them are part of Al-Jazeera, Inc., which I incorporated in the State of Georgia.
Second, Al-Jazeerah Information Center with its website, www.aljazeerah.info has been the first and only publication in English with the same name, in the world. While your client has been an Arabic only television network and an online publication, the English-speaking world has only known aljazeerah.info, since it has been the only site being published in the English language with the same name.
Third, the name of Al-Jazeerah (ending with h or with a, with i or ee middle vowels), in Arabic, is a generic name that cannot be trademarked or copyrighted universally. It refers to the Arabian Peninsula. Thus, what you are demanding is tantamount to someone trying to prevent you or me from using the word ” America,” or “Middle East” in a company name. As generic words, they cannot be “owned” by anyone, whether a person or an entity. The same applies to Al-Jazeera(h). Furthermore, there have been and continue to be other entities which operate using the Al-Jazeera(h) name. One such well-known entity is the daily Saudi newspaper, Al-Jazirah, which also has an online publication called aljazirah.com.
Fourth, as you stated correctly in your letter, Al-Jazeerah Information Center has posted on the front page and other places of its publication a clear note that states that Al-Jazeerah.info is NOT related to any other website with a similar name. This clear posting has prevented any confusion between the two entities.
Finally, but most importantly, Al-Jazeerah Information Center has a number of noble objectives, stated in its Mission Section. For almost a year and a half now, it has been educating people everywhere about the Arab and Muslim worlds, particularly about Palestine. Al-Jazeerah.info has become a world-wide forum for the promotion of peaceful resolution of international conflicts. People all over the world, particularly in the United States and the other English-speaking countries, have been able to read news and commentaries of Arab newspapers. They have been able to interact with Arab intellectuals, see and respond to Arab cartoons from various Arabic publications, and see news photos that they would not have seen in other media. This could not have happened without www.aljazeerah.info, as an English language publication. Your client’s publication, aljazeera.net, has been limited to Arab readers. This means that the target audiences have been different and there has been no competition between the two publications whatsoever.
In brief, aljazeerah.info has been providing a noble service for people, who are seeking the truth everywhere in the world. We have also been making efforts to promote peace, particularly between the United States and the Arab and the Muslim worlds.
Dear Mr. Doumar,
On basis of what I have explained above, I disagree with your claim that your client has an exclusive right to the name of Al-Jazeera(h). However, I would welcome any cooperation with your client in order to further advance the noble goals of Al-Jazeerah Information Center.
Dr. Hassan A. El-Najjar
Editor and Owner of aljazeerah.info
Al Tamimi & Co
-----Original Message----- From: Lara Ababneh [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2004 5:29 AM To: email@example.com Subject: RE: Al Jazeera Space Channel TV Station
Dear Mr. Najjar,
Further to your email below, this is to confirm that our letter is addressed to your website registered under the domain name of http://www.aljazeerah.info and presented under a banner with the word "Al Jazeerah " ??????? in both Arabic and English alphabets.
Therefore we confirm the content of the letter addressed to you on Tuesday December 14 2004.
Al Tamimi & Co
29th Floor Dubai World Trade Centre
P.O. Box 9275
United Arab Emirates
Tel: (971) 4 331 7090
Fax: (971) 4 331 3177
P.O. Box 724, Dalton, GA 30722, USA
December 17, 2004
Dear Ms. Lara Ababneh:
Thank you for your letter dated Dec. 14th and the clarifying e-mail of Dec. 16th. After a careful study of your letter and relevant United States and ICANN laws, regulations and policies, I must respectfully disagree with your conclusion that your client has a basis for claiming a right to the www.aljazeerah.info name.
First, domain names are created and sold in the United States by Network Solutions and other similar companies. It is a perfectly legal process that encourages competition and creativity in the market. This is how we obtained the www.aljazeerah.info name, which is owned by Al-Jazeera, Inc., a registered corporation in the State of Georgia and the United States.
Second, Al-Jazeerah Information Center with its website, www.aljazeerah.info was the first and only publication in English with said name. At the time we launched the site in January 2002, your client was an Arabic-only television network and website. Since that time, www.aljazeerah.info has established itself, distinctly and independently from your client, as an English-language site offering readers a valuable source for news, analysis and information.
Third, the name of Al-Jazeerah (ending with “h” or “a”, or with “i” or “ee” as middle vowels), in Arabic, is a generic name that cannot be trademarked or copyrighted universally. It refers to the Arabian Peninsula. Thus, what you are demanding is tantamount to someone trying to prevent you or us from using the word “America,” or “Middle East” in a company name. As generic words, they cannot be “owned” by anyone, whether a person or an entity. The same applies to Al-Jazeera(h). Furthermore, there have been and continue to be other entities which operate using the Al-Jazeera(h) name. One such well-known entity is the daily Saudi newspaper, Al-Jazirah, which also has an online publication called aljazirah.com.
Fourth, there is no confusion regarding your client and our website. Al-Jazeerah Information Center has posted on the front page and other places of the site a note that it is a clear, distinct and separate entity from your client. This posting, in our opinion, has prevented any confusion between the two entities.
On basis of what I have explained above, I disagree with your claim that your client has an exclusive right to the name of Al-Jazeera(h). Furthermore, it is clear by the traffic generated by our site and our loyal following of readers, that our site has established itself as a valuable alternative news source in the U.S. and the world. Over the last three years of operating the website, it has become clear that our publication has an intrinsic value on par with other well known websites, whether they be news providers such as CNN.com or commercial entities such as Amazon.com or Business.com. Al-Jazeerah.info, in our mind, is on par with these sites in value and its ability to deliver a clear and distinct commercial audience.
Dr. Hassan A. El-Najjar
Editor and Owner of www.aljazeerah.info
Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.