An anonymous caller threatened to shoot the producer of Emirati-backed film The Misfits, which refers to Qatar as the ‘terrorist supporting’ nation of “Jazeeristan”.
Actor and producer Rami Jaber has received anonymous death threats after his recent appearance on an Al Jazeera investigative news program. Security services in Belgium, where Jaber currently lives, are investigating.
According to the Qatar-based broadcaster, the Palestinian-Finnish producer of the Emirati-funded movie started receiving the threats the day after the “What’s Hidden is More Immense” [Ma Khafiya A’tham] TV show aired.
Speaking to Doha News, the Al Jazeera show’s presenter, Tamer Al-Meshal, said he was unable to provide a comment on the investigation while it remains ongoing, but that the threats indicate the “weakness” of whomever is behind them.
“Certainly it is disturbing to hear that a person is threatened for appearing on a television programme and giving their testimony. This goes against all international laws, and laws that preserve freedom of opinion and expression,” he said.
The Belgian police investigation report, which Al Jazeera obtained a copy of, said that the unknown person, an Arabic speaker, phoned Jaber and threatened to shoot him. Authorities have yet to identify the person behind the threats.
Speaking to Al Jazeera on Wednesday, Jaber said that the caller spoke in a Gulf dialect and accused him of providing the broadcaster with various documents relating to the film, with the aim of ‘destabilising’ UAE security.
“The UAE previously threatened to kidnap me and I even have frozen assets in the country that I haven’t received,” Jaber said, adding that he was surprised about the information Al Jazeera revealed.
Filmed and financed by the Emirati-owned company FilmGate Production, The Misfits refers to a thinly disguised Qatar-like nation as a place whose citizens support terrorist organisations and whose leaders finances global terrorism. This echoes accusations used by former blockading countries in 2017 to impose sanctions on Doha.
According to Al Jazeera, Jaber previously filed a lawsuit against his Emirati partner – Mansoor Al Dhaheri, founder and CEO of FilmGate Productions and AlKalema Productions – in a US court, following a disagreement over the content of the movie.
A leaked audio clip obtained by Al Jazeera showed Al Dhaheri offering the claimant large sums of money to drop the lawsuit.
Al Jazeera journalist Al-Meshal asked Al Dhaheri for a Skype interview during the show, receiving the response: “My brother, respected media personality Al Meshal, are you reaching out to me because I’m Emirati?”
Despite agreeing to be interviewed two days after the call, the Emirati producer stopped responding.
“I did not provide Al Jazeera with a single file, I only did the interview with the channel. Al Jazeera requested an interview, and I agreed to it. Why would I hide from an interview?” said Jaber, adding that Dhaheri barely showed up on set and that he worked with the Emirati Diwan.
According to a script seen by Al Jazeera, names of prominent figures such as Muslim scholar Sheikh Yousef Al Qaradawi emerged frequently in The Misfits, and in one instance, his image briefly appeared on screen. The movie attempted to falsely portray the renowned scholar as an instigator of violence.
In a leaked exchange, the Emirati producers reportedly asked the American production company to amend the script to include more political scenes.
The film was made throughout the 2017-21 Gulf crisis, which saw the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt sever diplomatic ties with Qatar and impose an illegal air, land and sea blockade. Producers had to make hasty amendments earlier this year to keep up with political developments, including changing a featured map of Qatar to one of a fake country; ‘Jazeeristan’.
Al Jazeera’s investigation concluded that the film was in fact a UAE-backed campaign aimed at spreading anti-Qatar propaganda.
Despite the threats, Al-Meshal told Doha News: “Nevertheless, we at Al Jazeera and Ma Khafiya A’tham [the programme] continue to carry out our work with all professionalism and objectivity and we strive to provide the viewers with the truth while giving all parties the right to opinion, expression, and response.”