Gulf Times journalist detained, charged

William Boot
By William Boot

DOHA * A journalist with the best-selling English newspaper in Qatar was arrested and detained last week on charges of spreading racial hatred and bringing Qatar into disrepute. Peter Townson, a Western journalist working for The Gulf Times, has recently written articles criticizing the family-day policies which prevents Asian labourers from entering shopping areas on Fridays and public holidays.

By Renee• 13 years 7 months ago.
Renee

The "Doha Freedom Media Center"...LoL...WTF?? What a load of BS....if there was such "freedom" in the media center I would have thought that AJE would have more coverage on Doha besides the one and only documentary about exploiting labor workers...they don't, as the "Doha Freedom Media Center" is a load of bollox!!

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

Too refer to a woman as babe is extremely demeaning and offensive, at least to a woman who respects herself.

By amnesia• 13 years 7 months ago.
amnesia

Don't get me wrong. I'm all against hypocracy, but as a Lawyer, rule number 1 is to get the facts. I'm not going to get riled up without them.

__________________________

Mr. Q's Blog - A Qatari's view on Qatar.

By amnesia• 13 years 7 months ago.
amnesia

@rami, I didn't know this was in the newspapers. I couldn't find the article. Does someone have a link to the source?

On a side note, I wonder if anybody even bothered to find the source before commenting negatively or even considered that the fact that there may be something more to this.

__________________________

Mr. Q's Blog - A Qatari's view on Qatar.

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

i couldn't control my laughter when i read her outburst....and giggled all the way thru the reply too :-D

Keep smiling!

Saggi!

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

"you sexist prick. IF you can't refer to someone with respect, then don't even bother giving your two cents worth".

Oh

My

God

this is priceless

By Arien• 13 years 7 months ago.
Arien

LOL saggi..

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

:-P thanks,mate!and to think she called poor old me a 'sexist prick'......tee hee! LOL

Keep smiling!

Saggi!

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

ROFL.....now this is getting interesting....

Quote

Im not your babe

Unquote

I bet gypsy thought saggi to be some guy....lol

Saggi...nice letter ;)

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

what to do,yaar?some people just ask for it :-P

Keep smiling!

Saggi!

By Formatted Soul• 13 years 7 months ago.
Formatted Soul

someone will hire you for formal letter writing.... guess I should take some lessons from you...LOL

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

May I ask How is that this guy gets arrested for writing about malls yet Al Jazeera get away by broadcasting "Bin Laden Tapes"?

May because Al Jazeera does not say anything "bad" about Qatar!

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

respected ma'am,

i deeply regret if any of my comments hath hurt thy feelings.kindly accpt my heartfelt apologies for the same.ma'am,till this very moment,i had assumed that referring to a feminine member of the human race as 'babe' was considered to be quite acceptable,particularly if the reference came from a fellow female member.i thank thee in earnest for having the good sense to correct my assumptions.i respect thy feelings for the editor of the newspaper in question and hereby state that i shall hitherto not refer to the object of thy feelings as 'mr.goody-two-shoes'.may i take this opportunity to also state that i am in no way jumping into conclusions.all i asked for was the truth,which so far has been something that has not been openly declared.however,time will tell.

May i also request thee to kindly refrain from usage of unparliamentary language.i hope in earnest that thou wouldst kindly consider my modest appeal.

Thank you

Sincerely

Saggi

By ngourlay• 13 years 7 months ago.
ngourlay

You know everyone, so we should all nod our heads and listen in silence when you speak ;)

By Imablue• 13 years 7 months ago.
Imablue

But they were all the time talking about the freedom of speech in Qatar! And freedom of Media!

And they are bringing “Journalists in Danger” to Qatar! How they can put a journalist in danger themselves?

This is the news today!

http://thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=Local_News&month=October2008&file=Local_News200810162367.xml

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

First of all, I'm not your babe a babe or any variation there of you sexist prick. IF you can't refer to someone with respect, then don't even bother giving your two cents worth.

Ok, you obviously just seem to want to jump to conclusions here, so go ahead.

The editors job is also to push the boundaries, and encourage his journalists to do so. I'm not sure what's the situation in this particular case, however, I would say that the journalist (as it's his name appearing on the story) was arrested to make a point, and that it will just be a slap on the wrist before he's released. It will be the editor who has to deal with the real legal and censorship problems that arrise, so he's not getting off the hook by a long shot.

Secondly, you obviously don't know the editor if you think he's a "goody-two-shoes."

By tallg• 13 years 7 months ago.
tallg

"look babe" - lol, that's real classy saggi!

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

look babe.....i'm not supporting anybody here.but if the journo did write a story on such a touchy issue (we have to consider the fact that he's a westerner and freedom of speech/press is a way of life from where he hails from possibly) the more learned and respectable editor should have at least told him that it's not safe to publish something like this in country which doesn't exactly tolerate being questioned.

if the editor is such a mr.goody-two-shoes,then why is he still remaining behind the curtains?everybody knows that the editor's word is last and final when it comes to newsprint.if it was not so,then let him come out with the actual story.....

otherwise,he'll have to face the wrath of uncalled-for allegations.

Keep smiling!

Saggi!

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

I would like to think that the 'Doha Freedom Media Center' reads the papers, (you know, 'the media').

Perhaps I expect a media freedom center to watch the media in the same way that I expect air traffic controllers to look for planes. Call me naive.

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

What story? The story of the journalist being imprisoned is out, any conjecture after that about who's fault it is or who should have done what is something called libel or slander.

By amnesia• 13 years 7 months ago.
amnesia

hopefully someone can 'say' they've told them. THen we've got evidence that they know and aren't doing anything.

__________________________

Mr. Q's Blog - A Qatari's view on Qatar.

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

True Amnesia, maybe they don't know.

But on the balance of probablities, they do know, and they are probably powerless to act.

By amnesia• 13 years 7 months ago.
amnesia

@magic, the may know, they may not.

It's like once when a customer walked into a branch while I was depositing a cheque. He was angry because he didn't get his bank statement. The staff asked "I'm sorry, let's resolve this for you, did you notify us once the statement didn't arrive?". "No! You should know." the guy said.

It would have all been easier if someone just said something rather than assuming they knew :)

__________________________

Mr. Q's Blog - A Qatari's view on Qatar.

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

ngourlay...I think it would have been great if they had asked Peter to cut the ribbon on that day....ROFL

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

what if we keep quiet?then the story will never be out...!it's like a vicious circle.......

Keep smiling!

Saggi!

By ngourlay• 13 years 7 months ago.
ngourlay

Peter was bylined on the Press Freedom Centre launch story -- it must have been pretty weird to sit listening to the plaudits about the country's protection of journalists, when you've just been charged for writing an embarrassing story.

There have been other cases like this. The cannibal story led to the charging of seven journalists with spreading of racial hatred and bringing of Qatar into disrepute. Even if you think the story was stupid, and should never have been printed, it sends a clear message to local journalists that they will be punished for crossing boundaries that are poorly defined. The cannibal case has been adjourned until it can be dealt with by the constitutional court, but there doesn't seem any rush to bring forward the trial.

A female journalist was recently sentenced in-absentia to a lengthy jail term after writing a story about a man waking up in Hamad Hospital's morgue. In her circumstances, skipping the country was probably sensible from a personal point of view, but it meant that the constitutional arguments were never heard.

Richard Roth of Northwestern University has spoken in support of the status quo, and I think he needs to be challenged to stand up for press freedoms. He says: "While many journalists in Qatar are hesitant to question the government, it has less to do with oppressive rule and more to do with civic pride." I think he's wrong, and local journalists would be happier to question authority if they weren't sat next to others who were facing lengthy jail-time for reporting the news.

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

Do you think they don't know about it, amnesia? What are they doing all day long?

By amnesia• 13 years 7 months ago.
amnesia

Someone should call the Doha Freedom Media Center and let them know.

__________________________

Mr. Q's Blog - A Qatari's view on Qatar.

By apanama• 13 years 7 months ago.
apanama

Hopes Peter gets a fair judgement.

"Happy trails and avoid the nails".

By tallg• 13 years 7 months ago.
tallg

Jack - if you want to discuss the journalist's story then feel free to do it on one of the many QL threads that are already discussing it. This thread is about freedom of speech in Qatar.

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

Not biased Svelete, I just believe in reserving judgement until the whole story is out.

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

Jack:

I agree, the freedom of speech here is 'quite' good. No better. Adequate, passable, alright.

But when you find yourself arresting journalists for writing stories about institutionalized racism, you deserve to be condemned.

As for your bullet/gun, journalist/story stuff, I still don't get your point.

This thread, as far as I can tell, isn't about family day, or whipping Indian laborers, but about the supression of journalistic activity in a country that pretends to have open and unfettered media freedom.

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

on second thoughts,silence is golden (at least for me,at this point).....for the moment it would suffice to say that i know the editor QUITE well.....but that doesn't make me biased.what's wrong is wrong.....accept it or not.

Keep smiling!

Saggi!

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

Sorry - 250kg. I failed my maths in junior school :(

Ban Spoon Feeding not Me

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

This is not a Democracy....and I believe the level of freedom of speech here is pretty good!

Honestly.

Otherwise QL would have been shut done a long time ago.

svelte_saggi ....the family days are obviously racist...cause they let in "White" bachelors but not the well dressed "non white" bachelor.

Tallg.....Its the case of The Journalist v/s His Story.....or......The Patient v/s The Disease

....similar to a case of discussing the bullet and forgetting the gun.

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

110 stone????

That's what, 700 kg??

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

Svelte, don't know how well you know the editor or the internal workings of a paper, but again, don't be so quick to slander someone on a public forum if you don't know the whole story.

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

Gypsy - "I'm pretty sure I didn't see a skinny Sri Lankan mucking around"

No wonder. I am a 110 stone THAI.

Ban Spoon Feeding not Me

By Arien• 13 years 7 months ago.
Arien

MD.. yes , thts why it shocked many here.

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

The "Rent Law" and the "Labor Law" are further examples of the "implementation" in this country.

By tallg• 13 years 7 months ago.
tallg

Hence my comment about "taking things with a pinch of salt" :) But good luck to northwestern.

I guess it's a bit like the decree of 2002 (I think) that bans smoking in all enclosed spaces. We all know how well that's being enforced!

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

suit urself,hun........sometimes silences do mean a lot.and silence on behalf of the editor does raise questions.....like you just see in this thread.

either he didn't think well of the consequences (he shud've kept the Hamad issue in mind) or he didn't even bother checking what stuff goes into the daily newspaper (a case of neglect of duties) when he allowed that piece of news to come out in-print.

in the end,who's going thru the dung-pit?the poor journo!

Keep smiling!

Saggi!

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

Well Tallg, the Emir can sign these decrees, but actually enforcing them are two entirely different things. Fact of the matter is censorship in Qatar acts of it's own accord regardless of laws.

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

Well, if you didn't expect this, Arien, then you must be dreaming.

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

agree with Arien......

Keep smiling!

Saggi!

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

Yes, but it does give you some insight into what's happening behind the scenes, which is why I wouldn't be so quick to judge.

By Arien• 13 years 7 months ago.
Arien

MD .. Its true that it happens in kingdoms, but none expected it here I guess.

Andrew lol .. The media freedom guys got a job to do now.

By tallg• 13 years 7 months ago.
tallg

"this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any medias and regardless of any frontiers."

How can this be true when we still don't have uncensored internet access?

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

Where was it then Charan. I'm pretty sure I didn't see a skinny Sri Lankan mucking around.

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

knowing somebody personally has got nothing to do with discussing an issue that is a tad controversial.....esp., if it concerns a possible threat to oneself.

Keep smiling!

Saggi!

By tallg• 13 years 7 months ago.
tallg

So does Article 19 override the previous laws that include criminal penalties for press offences such as “damage to state integrity” or “damage to religions”? (according to RSF).

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

FYI.......i know the editor quite well myself :-)

Keep smiling!

Saggi!

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

Maybe the journalist was detained because he was drunk when he wrote the article?

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

Gypsy - Are you sure :)))))))))))

Ban Spoon Feeding not Me

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

It makes a bit of a mockery of the disclaimer on Amnesia's blog (http://blog.iloveqatar.net/)

Freedom of Expression

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Qatari Government is a signatory of states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any medias and regardless of any frontiers.

The Emiri Decision Number 86 of the year 2007 on the establishment of the Doha Free Information Centre marked yet another step towards establishing a State of rights and freedom of speech. The decision stipulated that the Centre be a non-profit organization, headquartered in Doha City, and have the authority to establish other affiliated centres inside and outside Qatar. It is worth mentioning that His Highness the Emir issued a decision in 1998 annulling the ministry of information, giving birth to a new era of freedom of speech where censorship was removed from local media.

By tallg• 13 years 7 months ago.
tallg

Ok, I was just going on the cases I've read about, where it always seems to be the journalist copping the sentence. You probably know far more about this sort of thing than me though!

The one that sticks in my memory from Qatar was the Al Sharq journalist sentenced to 3 years for a report about Hamad hospital. I think Hamad sued the paper as well, but as far as I know only the journalist was sentenced.

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

Charan What? You weren't there?

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

It's not a "shame" at all! It's just what you would expect in a non-democratic country!

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

"I was speaking to the Editor of the Gulf Times and he never mentioned this."

True He was half drunk at that time :(

Ban Spoon Feeding not Me

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

Svelte, I personally know the editor, so really keep your judgement until everything is out and clear.

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

sweetie....he'd never mention something like this!afterall,who'd want to pick his teeth and ask someone else to smell the toothpick?

Keep smiling!

Saggi!

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

No tallg, the editor should cop in these cases. Which is why I suspect this is a "for-show" slap on the wrist.

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

where's the darned editor???the poor journo guy gets the whip while mr.smarty-pants sits pretty at home!grrrrrrrr!

unfair!unfair!

Keep smiling!

Saggi!

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

When was this last week btw? Because I was speaking to the Editor of the Gulf Times and he never mentioned this.

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

Welcome to Zimbabwe.

Next they'll be telling Al Jazeera to stop covering local Qatari stories... oh wait, they don't.

By adey• 13 years 7 months ago.
adey

for Al Jezeera International's 'Listening Post', which reports on media stories..........

Oh,.. er,.. wait,... I think I see a snag!

"Deaths in the Bible. God - 2,270,365

not including the victims of Noah's flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, or the

many plagues, famines, fiery serpents, etc because no specific numbers

were given. Satan - 10."

By tallg• 13 years 7 months ago.
tallg

I think it's normally the journalists who cop it in these cases, though I agree that the editor has the final say so should be held responsible as well.

By Andrews• 13 years 7 months ago.
Andrews

Right time to arrest a journalist.. Doha Centre for Media Freedom was officially inaugurated yesterday. LOL......

By Formatted Soul• 13 years 7 months ago.
Formatted Soul

Few years before there were no crime reports in the paper or anything bad about the country or people for that matter. The newspapers portrayed the Country as heaven on earth...but things slowly changed...but this proves…..

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

"I personally dont think they need to allow labour class in the high end malls... where everything is too expensive for their pockets."

Who wants the stinking class to be with Elite. They are doing a favour to the stinking class by forcing savings & reducing big spendings in the Malls :)

Ban Spoon Feeding not Me

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

I'm not sure as well why the journalist is getting arrested, at the end of the day it's the editor who allows the story to run.

By GodFather.• 13 years 7 months ago.
GodFather.

These are the headlines on the Gulf times this morning. Freedom of speech comes with a great responsibility. One persons criticism can be offencive to another. But positive criticisim and exposing real stories should be encourage otherwise there is no difference here and Zimbabwe or Burma.

-----------------

HE WHO DARES WINS

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

i didn't know 'familes' and 'bachelors' belonged to different races......if jackmohan says malls are promoting 'racism'.....duh!

Keep smiling!

Saggi!

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

I've spoken with Northwestern and no they aren't taking it with a pinch of salt, they have every intention of operating the same as they do in the States.

By Oryx• 13 years 7 months ago.
Oryx

Shoot the Messenger...

not the way to solve issues

By Formatted Soul• 13 years 7 months ago.
Formatted Soul

issue here is Freedom of speech and expression.

Family day is a different issue which was discussed in here before.

I personally dont think they need to allow labour class in the high end malls... where everything is too expensive for their pockets.

By tallg• 13 years 7 months ago.
tallg

Jack - because a journalist was arrested. We all know about "family days" and yours and everyone elses opinion on them, but that has nothing to do with this topic. Please don't hijack.

Gypsy - if they did promise that, surely everyone took it with a pinch of salt? It's common knowledge that you should never say anything against the Emir and his family and against Qatar as a country.

By GodFather.• 13 years 7 months ago.
GodFather.

Well that explains it where he is..The guy has done alot for freedom of speech. All of I know of Pete is that he is decent guy and should not be treated like this.

-----------------

HE WHO DARES WINS

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

Gypsy.....Would there have been any difference ....if he was not arrested?

I guess the reason for his arrest was the "topics" of his columns which was related to the "family day"

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

This isn't about the Family Days jackmohan, this is about a journalist being arrested.

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

Why is it Sad and Shocking?

....Because a journalist was arrested?

or

...Because a person reported something you did not know?

I see people being shocked, surprised, angry, sad, dissappointed, dejected....etc. But what have you done after that .....Shoped at the very same place that encouraged racism!!!

You, me and all of the people on board can make the Malls change their rule overnight....literally overnight.

But what have we done....made fun of each other, joked.

The POWER to change the Mall's Rules are with YOU.

If you dont shop at "those" Malls then they will be forced to change the rules.

I can see bachelors waiting till 10pm around CityCentre waiting patiently for the curfew to end and for them to go in and shop.

I just cant understand why they dont take the company bus to Lulu Hyper and shop right through the day!

By Gypsy• 13 years 7 months ago.
Gypsy

I find this a sad state of affairs considering that HH the Emir and Sheikha Mozah PROMISED Northwestern there would be freedom of speech in this country.

This is disgusting.

By tallg• 13 years 7 months ago.
tallg

I'm not telling anyone to do anything, I'm just pointing out that Qatar obviously has an issue with people reporting these events. And when they are discussed on QL there are some very strong opinions banded around (far stronger than what's written in the paper). I expect that if the Government are going to do anything they'll just slap QL on the Qtel banned site list rather than pursue individual members, but you never know.

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

agree with tallg and greeker

Keep smiling!

Saggi!

By Greeker• 13 years 7 months ago.
Greeker

Tall is only saying that QL and QLers should be more responsible for what they say. People cannot take anonymity in the forum for granted and say what they like.

It may feel like a breech of your freedom of expression et al, but for the greater interest of the site and the self, its better to think twice before you speak.

Its my personal opinion too...!

By genesis• 13 years 7 months ago.
genesis

I just hope that this gets picked up internationally.

I just can’t understand how do “they” still can pull strings. No Matter how hard “she” tries to fix, they’re always there to ruin.

By anonymous• 13 years 7 months ago.
anonymous

we are not scared, but better safe than sorry. We came here to earn a living and not be arrested.

"dgoodrebel will always be the rebellious good one"

By logicsays• 13 years 7 months ago.
logicsays

"The best way to predict the future is to create it".

By svelte_saggi• 13 years 7 months ago.
svelte_saggi

there we go again about the whole family day thing......

Keep smiling!

Saggi!

By Arien• 13 years 7 months ago.
Arien

This is Shocking and Sad.

What we have learned and understood about Qatar are all wrong??

By tallg• 13 years 7 months ago.
tallg

And I was just saying to someone the other day how it's good that the newspapers are covering these sort of issues and that they are being allowed to by the government. Seems I spoke to soon. Such a shame. The "family day" farce isn't painting Qatar in a very good light, and arresting journalists will only make it look worse.

Perhaps QL as a site and QLers themselves need to be careful what gets written on here.

By ballinkg• 13 years 7 months ago.
ballinkg

detained after his story on the beatings in the souqs but he is allright. He spent a few hours answering questions he told me.

By deedee• 13 years 7 months ago.
deedee

for whoever decided to arrest him. Now there will (hopefully) be loads of publicity related to his arrest which will continue to drag up the laborers/bachelors treatment here. Instead of just being in the local paper, local QL site, the story may get picked up internationally.

By Flammable• 13 years 7 months ago.
Flammable

soo unfair

-- F L A M M A B L E --

By Formatted Soul• 13 years 7 months ago.
Formatted Soul

what a sad state of affair...

If journalists don’t have freedom of speech/expression who else have freedom of speech in this country??

By genesis• 13 years 7 months ago.
genesis

Just in time for the opening cermony of Doha information Centre(So much for the so called freedom of speech)!!!

http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=248326&version=1&template_id=57&parent_id=56

Do they think that will be blanked from the media

what a shame :(

By knoxcollege• 13 years 7 months ago.
knoxcollege

Now Peter would be the guest of honor for the local Police. I hope they treat him well and with utmost care. Now he can take all the pictures he wants and he would now have the first hand experience of police hospitality. And Friday has to be a family day also at the prison.

Mullah reporting from Tora Bora

By alma wad• 13 years 7 months ago.
alma wad

http://yadiin.blogspot.com/

Astonishing !

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