A demand by Saudi Arabia and three other Arab nations for Qatar to close down its Al Jazeera TV channel is an "unacceptable attack" on the right to freedoms of expression and opinion, the United Nations human rights chief said on Friday.
U.N. High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein is "extremely concerned by the demand that Qatar close down the Al Jazeera network, as well as other affiliated media outlets," his spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing.
"Whether or not you watch it, like it, or agree with its editorial standpoints, Al Jazeera's Arabic and English channels are legitimate, and have many millions of viewers. The demand that they be summarily closed down is, in our view, an unacceptable attack on the right to freedom of expression and opinion," Colville said.
Starting from June 5, Bahrain, Comoros, Egypt, Maldives, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen's internationally backed government and one of Libya's three governments have cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar over accusations that the Gulf nation funds militant groups – charges Doha calls baseless.
Several other Muslim nations also downgraded their diplomatic ties with Qatar.
The Saudi-led anti-Qatar axis issued an ultimatum last week, including demands Qatar shut down a Turkish military base in Doha, shutting Al Jazeera and curbing ties with Iran.