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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Al Jazeera on Qatar cybercrime law: Don’t limit media freedom

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al jazeera english newsroom

The Al Jazeera Media Network marked its 18th anniversary yesterday with a symposium on the safety and security of journalists, even as critics say press freedoms are eroding in its home base of Qatar.

That’s because new laws have been introduced here and in other countries that place restrictions on the content individuals can publish online. Elsewhere in the Middle East, such provisions have been used against people who are critical of the government.

Weighing in on Qatar’s new laws, the acting head of Al Jazeera said he generally disagrees with such approaches, adding that authorities should “not blame the messenger” for reporting on sensitive, but legitimate, topics in a responsible manner.

The plight of several Al Jazeera journalists has raised awareness of how some Arab governments have sought to quiet journalists reporting on upheaval in their countries.

Yesterday’s conference, which was hosted by Al Jazeera’s public liberties and human rights department, came as the broadcaster continues to demand the release of three of its journalists jailed in Cairo.

AJ three in cageMohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed were arrested in December 2013 and sentenced to jail terms in June on charges of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, a now-banned organization in Egypt. The network denies the allegations, and an appeal of their conviction has been scheduled for Jan. 1, 2015.

The men were also found guilty of spreading false news and endangering national security – offenses that are now also illegal in Qatar’s digital realm under this country’s new cybercrime law.

The wide-ranging legislation also covers acts that were already outlawed such as possessing child pornography and hacking into government networks. But it has mostly been criticized for the content provisions, with human rights organizations saying the law’s passage was a “major setback for freedom of expression in Qatar.”

However, some residents said the provisions are welcome if authorities use their new powers judiciously.

In an interview with Doha News late last month, Mostefa Souag – Al Jazeera’s acting director-general – said the network opposes any restrictions placed on professional, objective journalists. When asked specifically about Qatar’s cybercrime law, Souag said:

“We are against any kind of limitation or oppression of media freedom, in any country … If you as a government are doing something wrong and (media) institutions are reporting it, then you have to review yourself, review your policies (and) not blame the messenger.”

Speaking more generally about working in the region, Souag said journalists are bound to encounter challenges when reporting on events and opinions that are unpopular with government authorities:

“We understand that being in the Middle East … (and) being an independent and free media (outlet) is not an easy thing. Being courageous (and) brave, digging and looking for the truth in order to show it to the rest of the world – and especially to the citizens of (that particular) country – when you show corruption (or) give the chance for the opposition to talk, you are always going to find problems. This is the way things are done in most of the Middle East.”

What is false news?

While other countries have used “false news” laws to prosecute journalists, Qatar’s vaguely worded provisions provided few clues about how local authorities intend to use their new powers.

Last month, Qatar’s country’s former justice minister told Doha News that the country passed the new law to comply with an agreement among Gulf states to criminalize online insults of the region’s royal families.

Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.
Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.

And last week, Qatar’s prime minister framed the new cybercrime legislation as a counterterrorism measure in an op-ed published in the Guardian newspaper in the UK.

Under the headline, “Qatar and the UK stand together in the fight against terrorism,” Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani wrote that Qatar’s new cybercrime law “gives our government new powers to monitor and stop terrorist groups from promoting their activities or recruiting for their causes online.”

Such claims have failed to appease critics such as Human Rights Watch, which called on Qatar to repeal its cybercrime law – among other measures – as part of its ultimately successful candidacy for a seat on the UN’s Human Rights Council.

Thoughts?

16 COMMENTS

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MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

It is hypocritical of Qatar to call for the release of Al Jazeera journalists who have been convicted of what would also be considered crimes in Qatar.

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

very insightful analysis of the article

Mojo
Mojo
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Irrelevant. They will not arrest journos and lock them behind bars here. This law is to deter cyber crimes but at the same time was put in a vogue way that will make judges consider the journalists job. Don’t bubble anything just for the sake for the criticism. In Egypt a vicious military junta which killed thousands of people and jailed kids, sent 3 innocent journos to jail to scare the others. Don’t associate the two situations.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

Dont you love how Al Jeezera dosnt report on the human rights abuses, corruption, hidden crime, human trafficking, road carnage, flawed justice, in Qatar….just another arm of a morally corrupt society that is Qatar

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Nor the Villagio fire as it was happening in their backyard.

Mojo
Mojo
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

How come? (cheack the links below) I watched many documentaries & reports that are critic about the plight of workers in Qatar, they interviewed officials and gave them a hard time on air. The did report the villagio blaze and the trials of Qatari poet. Unless it’s a big news that can unseat the daily car bombs, floods, earthquakes, elections or wars happening world wide then it can’t be a headline. They did report on Qatar controversial foreign policies and never shushed a critic in their daily discussions whenever Qatar is worth mentioning. It’s by far the best news channel many people have seen. I give credit where credit is duo and so does with criticism.

AFEW REFRENCES:

The plight of workers

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=6NmxUDXP4LI

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=A_SSJoHeANg>

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=USpgXmVveHA

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=hMxbpsw_UTE

The Villagio blaze

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=88KpQGIsBjA

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=pc5DRz1SBWA

The poet trials

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=_Zr1dkd5mks

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=ME15QDcGw94

KingOfKings
KingOfKings
6 years ago
Reply to  Mojo

All you showed is youtube links man. You must be Egyptian yourself! please tell me you are lol.

Al Jazeera is a the hub of hamas/ISIL terrorists or whatever adjectives you might want to give them. Al jazeera seems to always be the first to obtain videos showing suicide bombings, beheadings, terrorist speeches, etc.

Qatar should be focusing on stepping up its game to be considered a country and not a farm. Right now, it really is more of a farm when no laws apply on all, slavery and racism and sexism. Jazeera can never be respected because it is guided by the same regime that allows all these things to happen. I hope I did not lose you son.

Mojo
Mojo
6 years ago
Reply to  KingOfKings

Egyptian? No I’m not an Egyptian. I don’t know how and why you reached to this false conclusion. Any careful look to my posts will show that I’m a local.

Your post is irrelevant to what we were discussing in this thread. We were discussing “Does AJ cover the news in Qatar”. Those links are from Aljazeera’s YouTube channel, they posts their daily reports in it. The videos are a sample of their coverage about Qatar. it debunks the claims that they don’t cover Qatar. I don’t know why you posted a video about the poet who is in jail because If you noticed I posted videos about the poet trials in my early post.

They are the first to obtain materials because they are stationed in Middle East and have a great news gathering team. They are not a hub for anything but for great journalists, quality reports and documentaries. This is what you should judge the channel on.

I don’t care about your opinion on Qatar, I want the labor laws to be improved. The rest of what you mentioned are not worthy of a response.

KingOfKings
KingOfKings
6 years ago
Reply to  Mojo

Relax it’s not that I took a dump in your morning cereal or in your case karak if I asked if you were Egyptian. My bad, How dare I compare a Qatari local to a poor Egyptian. I apologize from your majesty.

I know you don’t care about anyone’s opinion about Qatar. You are Qatari after all. You want labor laws to improve and this is a good thing. But, If labor laws improve Qatar projects will slow down by the same rate that these improvements. Al Jazeera is a biased channel dedicated for one and one thing only. “Anything, but Hamas Terrorists”.. AL Jazeera gets a pre-approval before publishing anything and part of the game is to give that “freedom” of media impression.

Try to sound less of a “L” when you reply to people. After all, you people desperately need to prove many people wrong and it always starts by individual actions.

Mojo
Mojo
6 years ago
Reply to  KingOfKings

I shook my head because I don’t know how posting YouTube links for news sources will make anyone sound like from a particular nationality! wither Egyptian or Qatari or Chines…could n’t care less.

There is no virtue for deeds like projects if workers didn’t get fair payments and suitable housing. I don’t think by any means Qatar will lose anything because the fair payments and hours are a drop in a river comparing to huge profits for companies. The state also enjoy a surplus in billions ever year. BTW I’m not a socialist but in a society were we value and uphold our faith’s principles, sad stories of poor workers’ conditions should not exist. I’m hoping for better reforms. At the same time I loath who try seize that for political gains like the WC2022.

I have a belly full of reading pointless negative opinions by Westerners regarding living in a conservative culture to the point I feel it’s meaningless to reply to them. This is why I don’t care. Salam.

Mojo
Mojo
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

How come? I watched many documentaries & reports that are critic about the plight of workers in Qatar, they interviewed officials and gave them a hard time on air. The did report the villagio blaze and the trials of Qatari poet. Unless it’s a big news that can unseat the daily car bombs, floods, earthquakes, elections or wars happening world wide then it can’t be a headline. They did report on Qatar controversial foreign policies and never shushed a critic in their daily discussions whenever Qatar is worth mentioning. It’s by far the best news channel many people have seen. I give credit where credit is duo and so does with criticism. You just love to bubble nonsense, don’t you?

AFEW REFRENCES:

The plight of workers

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=6NmxUDXP4LI

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=A_SSJoHeANg>

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=USpgXmVveHA

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=hMxbpsw_UTE

The Villagio blaze

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=88KpQGIsBjA

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=pc5DRz1SBWA

The poet trials

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=_Zr1dkd5mks

> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=ME15QDcGw94

smd
smd
6 years ago

So true.
Shame, you cannot take Al Jeezera’s News broadcasts as sincere
and un-bias due to their absolute lack of reporting about Qatar’s inner country
issues other than merely in the third person via references to lame foreign affair
issues. Al Jeezera comes across as a wholly international broadcaster,
but then negligent to include any such international grade narrative when it relates
to touchy issues on home grown soil…… other than positive PR propaganda 🙂

Mojo
Mojo
6 years ago
Reply to  smd

How come? I watched many documentaries & reports that are critic about the plight of workers in Qatar, they interviewed officials and gave them a hard time on air. The did report the villagio blaze and the trials of Qatari poet. Unless it’s a big news that can unseat the daily car bombs, floods, earthquakes, elections or wars happening world wide then it can’t be a headline. They did report on Qatar controversial foreign policies and never shushed a critic in their daily discussions whenever Qatar is worth mentioning. It’s by far the best news channel many people have seen. I give credit where credit is duo and so does with criticism.

AFEW REFRENCES:
The plight of workers
> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=6NmxUDXP4LI
> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=A_SSJoHeANg>
> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=USpgXmVveHA
> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=hMxbpsw_UTE
The Villagio blaze
> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=88KpQGIsBjA
> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=pc5DRz1SBWA
The poet trials
> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=_Zr1dkd5mks
> youtube(dot)com/watch?v=ME15QDcGw94

KingOfKings
KingOfKings
6 years ago
Reply to  Mojo

watch this kid
youtube dot com/watch?v=9a3OnfvzTeI

Mr. B
6 years ago

Could it be more Khaleeji double-talk, promising one thing here and doing another thing there? Perhaps Qatar meant to appease Saudi by passing it but never – or rarely – enforcing it.

AnonymityBreedsContempt
AnonymityBreedsContempt
6 years ago

I am afriad to say anything about this law online.

Mission accomplished.

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