The host of one of Al Jazeera's most popular — and controversial — shows recently demanded to know why Syria's rebels still tolerated Shia Muslims in largely Sunni areas.
Faisal al-Qassim, the host of Al Jazeera's The Opposite Direction, was interviewing Zein Eddin, coordinator for the Syrian opposition groups, on Tuesday when he asked about the rebel's battlefield choices.
"I want to ask you this. Nubi and al-Zahra are Shia colonies in the heart of Sunni land," Qassim said, naming two Shia majority cities in Aleppo. "Why don't you expel them as they did to you and curse the ones who gave birth to them?"
"War has no emotions," Qassim chided.
On Friday, Qassim took to Twitter to defend himself from claims that he was stirring sectarian animosity:
"I never care about religion or nationality of the victims, all I care about is that he is a victim, [We] must stand with the victims," he said, listing off several groups that should be supported.
It isn't al-Qassim's first run-in with controversy over the course of the Syrian conflict. In 2015, he was panned for asking whether Syrian's Alawite minority should be collectively punished for destroying Syria.
And Al Jazeera itself has been accused of promoting sectarianism in the region. In this 2013 poll posted on its website, the network asked whether readers believed it was Syria's Sunnis or Shia who turned the conflict into a sectarian one.
Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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