A Kenyan journalist who was working for global broadcaster CNN had explained how to tweets he made as a teenager more than 10 years ago cost him his job at the network.
Idris Mukhtar who was based at the Atlanta headquarters of the network after beating all odds in life as a child born at the Korogocho slums was fired in November after a pro-Israeli media watchdog called for his sacking due to posts he had made praising Hamas terrorism and expressing support for Hitler.
According to screenshots reported by the organization to CNN, Ibrahim tweeted in 2014 that he has “shifted to team Germany after finding out that Messi supports Israel. #teamHitler,” although it was unclear if he was being facetious.
In another tweet that same year, Ibrahim praised members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, calling them “modern-day freedom fighters” who are “defending their land.” Ibrahim also said Hamas was “entitled to armed struggle.”
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The journalist has in a tell all interview with Daily Nation said that “At the time I made the tweets I was just a teenager bursting under the shadow of a continent often left out in cultural warfare and playing catch up with Western inventions.”
“A decade later, I was reduced to a tweet and labelled an antisemite and supporter of the terrorist organisation, Hamas; terms that I only wrote about in my pieces or while producing a television package for the international broadcaster,”
Everything was going on well for Ibrahim at CNN until according to him when he contributed to a story about Israeli elections. A pro-Israeli media watchdog investigated him, digging through his tweets back to 2014 when he was just a teenager in the slums.
CNN has a lengthy history of critics accusing the network of an alleged bias on its reporting relating to terrorism in Israel and the surrounding territories. They thus had to fire the Kenyan journalist.
Idris has however said he regrets making those tweets and he was just an innocent teenager who joined a trend he thought was cool on social media.
“I am passionate about advocating for human rights, just like most of the stories I covered. Unfortunately, at the time of my tweet, I had a minimal understanding of what the group stood for. Again, I am sorry to anyone who felt hurt by my tweets in agreement with the group’s call to arms to defend their country,” he said.
“Many journalists like me today have been cancelled because of an old tweet or something they said before. Aren’t we all human beings subject to evolving and changing opinions? Isn’t Cancel Culture an attempt to shut all of us, curtailing the progress made on free speech?”