On Tuesday 11 November, the following story was to appear in local papers. It was censored, and did not appear.
The Doha Centre for Media Freedom has called upon Qatar's government to change the Press and Publication Law of 1979, which gives the authorities "excessive power" over the media's freedom of expression.
The Centre applauded the country's record, with the establishment of Al Jazeera, and the stand it took at the Arab League when information ministers were seeking to curb the freedom of satellite TV stations to broadcast.
However, the newly formed Media Freedom Centre went on to criticise the current environment for journalists within country. In addition to amending the Press Law, it called on Qatar to sign and ratify the International Covenant on Political Rights.
"In their search for the truth, they can rely on the Doha Centre for Media Freedom to support them. Not just out of professional solidarity but because we think this is the best way to help Qatar and its leaders and people and because we believe the authorities are sincere in their promises that we can work in complete freedom."
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"Everything in this book may be wrong." Illusions: The Adventures of The Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach
Can anyone confirm whether this story was censored? If so, it is huge news. The Doha Center for Media Freedom isn't commenting, and it's difficult to get anyone from a newspaper to talk to me.
Are there any journalists on this discussion board who could confirm that they were going to run this story, and that it was removed? Feel free to send me a private message through this website.
The newspapers seem to have been very quiet since one of the Gulf Times journalists was taken in for questioning by the police!
Didn't see that mentioned in the DCMF either!
Rob, I can confirm the story was going to be in Al Raya on Tuesday, but it was pulled. I couldn't say whether it was censored as that's above my pay-grade.
Qatar Tribune was going to run the story. There were a lot of telephone calls going on and people having meetings. Someone was joking that maybe the freedom centre story was going to be censored, and then 10 minutes later were told to drop it and lay out the page again.
I heard all the English papers dropped the story.
Oh the glorious ridiculousness of a media freedom centre being censored. You really couldn't make it up.
There have been rumours circulating about this all week, but I don't understand something. If the centre has been censored, why haven't they gone public? They were sure to know that it had happened: I mean, when was the last time anyone in Doha sent out a press release that received absolutely no coverage?
Still, it's quite ironic, no?
Is it not fair to assume that if the papers were warned not to run the story that the DCMF were also warned not to make a fuss about it?
it's funny that DCMF does not seem to be fully locally based (their website is owned by RSF).
Their site says that:
The Doha Centre was set up on 9 December 2007 by a decree of Qatar’s emir, H.H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and is under the patronage of H.H Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned.
The Doha Centre is administered by:
A Board composed of prominent people from around the world and chaired by H.E. Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer al-Thani, chairman of Al Jazeera, An Advisory Council composed of political figures, human rights activists, academics and well-known journalists and chaired by Dr. Hamad Abdelaziz al-Kawari, minister of culture, arts and heritage.
I don't think they would be censored.
so much for freedom of expression, i guess...
Why has this not been covered by the world press? Why is it only being discussed here?
The sad truth is that the world doesn't care whether the press is free in Qatar. There are two individuals who could make a difference, and they have let journalism down. Until they speak out, no one outside this website will be listening.
Robert Menard is the Director General of the DCMF; Richard Roth is the Dean of Northwestern. Both men have been sold a lie. They have been told they have the freedom to work in Qatar for a free press. They have been told they have a direct line to the very top of Qatari society. They have been told the problem with Qatar's press is timid journalists, and they have believed it.
Well Robert, Richard, you are now part of the problem. Your very presence in the country is a sign to the outside world that Qatar has a free press with no censorship.
Your silence forces others to take risks on your behalf. Why should the maintainers of Qatar Living take the obvious risks of hosting this discussion when it's YOUR JOB TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS, not theirs. Why should local journalists have to take risks writing on this board when both of you have the protection they don't?
Robert, Richard, you've stated that this country does not have censorship. You can both see that isn't true, and yet your statements are still out there, being used to paint a false picture.
Either do your jobs, or get lost. You're doing damage by being here.
Any proof that this was censored? even DCMF don't say so on their website.
Well, they came here knowing that Qatar is off the book. It is a shame how we look hypocrite now. I'm sure the folks in Saudi,.. ETC are having a good laugh. At least they never deny that there is no freedom of expression. Saudi have launched a campaign called "Marcy", running advertisements in MBC about abused maids & labours.
This should have been initiated in Qatar, with all the propaganda in daily newspapers & all the hosted conferences about human rights!