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Sunday, January 24, 2021

NUQ study: Censorship of ‘offensive’ content favored in Qatar

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Movie

Though many Arabs in Qatar and across the Middle East enjoy watching Hollywood movies and listening to Western music, far more support censorship of any film or program that could be deemed “offensive” to the community.

That’s one of the findings of the newly released “Entertainment Media in the Middle East: A Six-Nation Survey,” produced by Northwestern University in Qatar, in partnership with the Doha Film Institute.

The results of the survey were tallied following face-to-face interviews conducted earlier this year with 6,000 residents in Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Tunisia and Egypt.

The interviews involved nationals from Egypt and Lebanon, and a mix of locals and expats in the other four countries, where the concentration of foreigners is higher.

GOVT OVERSIGHT PRODUCTION

According to the report, nearly seven out of 10 people surveyed favored tighter government regulation of offensive content, including that of a violent or romantic nature.

In Qatar, the response was even stronger, with 80 percent of respondents saying it’s appropriate to delete scenes that could be considered offensive. The report states:

“This support for censorship and government monitoring of entertainment content is observed across all facets of the population, except, perhaps, among Western expatriates in Qatar. In fact, in no other area of this survey do we find such consistency of opinion across the surveyed population.”

However, eight out of 10 of those surveyed in Qatar also agreed that more should be done to integrate their cultures with modern society. Commenting on the results, Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO of NUQ, said in a statement:

“These apparently contradictory findings really are not, but reflect how the Arab world is coping with globalization and still grappling to preserve local culture.”

Movie screenings

The findings come after several of the countries surveyed were in the spotlight for their recent handling of two Hollywood blockbusters.

In January, movie-goers in the UAE and Qatar complained after censors edited out more than 40 minutes of the three-hour Wolf of Wall Street, due to foul language and explicit content.

wolf of wall street

Last month, three of the countries surveyed – Qatar, the UAE and Egypt – banned the film Noah at cinemas, saying the movie “contradicts the teachings of Islam,” Paramount Pictures said.

Indian comedy Grand Masti and Bollywood horror film Raaz 3 have also been banned in Qatar and UAE cinemas due to their content.

And this week, the Peninsula reported that a newly released Egyptian film was taken off screens following online complaints.

The newspaper states that Halawat Al Rooh (Sweetness of the Spirit), which stars Lebanese actress Haifa Wahbi, “reportedly contains sexually suggestive scenes featuring the actress in revealing clothes with a young boy.”

Preference for Arab-produced films

Though US and Indian films are watched in the Middle East, Arabic-language movies continue to dominate. Viewership in the Gulf is lower than other countries, however, due to the expat population.

NUQ_FocusOnQatar_11_EnjoymentAndMorality

NUQ

Additionally, the report found that there is a thirst for films that portray Arab culture, with 83 percent of those surveyed in Qatar saying they prefer such movies. It states:

“People in MENA watch films from a variety of regions, yet consider films from the Arab region to be a better mirror of Arab culture than films from other parts of the world. They also consider Arab films to be a more positive influence on morality.”

However, few Qatar residents acyually access homegrown content such as TV shows (30 percent), films (9 percent), or music (14 percent). The figures are higher among the local population, but the report states that “Qataris are more likely in general to consume content from the United States than from Qatar.”

According to Abdulaziz Al-Khater, DFI CEO, this may be due to a lack of Qatar-produced content. In a statement, he said:

“What we see from these numbers is that there is a growing demand for locally generated entertainment. The survey results reinforce the idea that nurturing a thriving creative industry in our region is vital to enabling the creation of content that accurately reflects Arab culture.”

Effects

Though Qatar residents enjoy Western content, they and others in the Middle East still expressed a penchant for preserving local culture. An average of three out of four people surveyed said they supported this notion, but affirmative responses in the Gulf countries were even higher.

CULTURAL PRESERVATION

Some 94 percent of respondents in Qatar favored taking more steps to preserve culture, as did 86 percent in Saudi Arabia and 85 percent in UAE. All three countries have large expatriate populations.

The survey’s results are available in full here, with a special chapter on Qatar here. NU-Q worked with Harris Poll, the Pan Arab Research Center and the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute at Qatar University to come up with the results.

They follow a report released by the university last year that extensively analyzed news and media usage in the Middle East.

Thoughts?

48 COMMENTS

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Timothy Thomason
Timothy Thomason
6 years ago

Should think to have Both Western & Middle Eastern Showings, let the audience decide the viewing they wish to see. Both the Local & Expat communities should be allowed access to there own cultural movies. those of us from the west would i’m sure prefer to have the original versions of the movies available to us

Still not satisfied
Still not satisfied
6 years ago

And yet on any given day you can hear explicit music in random mall shops and on the radio. I’m not for censorship of films at all — we’re all grown ups and can decide what appeals and what doesn’t — but find the music played in public places here kind of shocking. I can only guess that it’s because non-native English speakers don’t catch the lyrics. I always wonder where it comes from, though. Are the shopkeepers selecting it themselves? It’s not just in one store and not just in one mall that I’ve encountered music that I don’t want my kids to listen to yet and lyrics I don’t care to explain.

Gareth Walters
Gareth Walters
6 years ago

I agree, you can listen to QBS radio on any given day between 1200 -1400, when kids are coming home from school and hear ‘offensive/explicit langauge all the time.
I strongly believe that people should have a chocie. no one is forced to go and watch wolf of wall street for example. dont go and see these movies, or listen to this music if it offends you.
if Arab movies are still the more popular choice as this so called survey suggests then why is there a problem. it is no one elses right to decide what i will or will not find offensive. if i am offended by something that is my problem, no one elses.

Amber
Amber
6 years ago

The thing about explicit songs is you can hear them but can’t see it. And the vast majority of arabs or kids won’t even understand the words. Wheras an explicit scene in a movie is universally understood.

Still not satisfied
Still not satisfied
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

Sure, but do you really think that because the vast majority of arabs or kids won’t understand the words that makes it okay? I think it’s kind of the same as if I wrote a very graphic and vulgar description of an … act right here. No images, but it wouldn’t be an appropriate place for it at all. My kids definitely understood the words the last time this happened. Loud, explicit enough that the couldn’t be reposted here or in any newspaper, and very clear. The f word, the c word, actions described. I’m no prude, but WOW was my immediate reaction. You can choose to see a movie or not, to listen to a radio station or not. But I’m talking about shops in the mall.

Desert Witch
Desert Witch
6 years ago

Totally agree.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago

Easy; they don’t have a clue what the lyrics of the song means.

Desert Witch
Desert Witch
6 years ago

I have over the years made is a point to call the shop manager and complain if I hear offensive words or references in the songs being played in the shop. Especially if I have my daughter with me. The minute I say its haram they concede and change it. However I’m pretty sure as these things are on a loop that the song will appear later in the day.
This I find appalling as our children have this drip fed into their ears without thinking.

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

Ah, poor precious religious societies….so virtuous and easily offended. Do societies with no censorship implode and disintegrate into lawless anarchies? Er, no. All societies, free or repressed, have a plethora of issues affecting them, but there is no evidence that censorship of the Arts has any effect whatsoever on either ‘improving’ society or garnering more control. It did in the past, but not any more. In fact, it just forces things underground and gives them more edgy appeal, especially to the young.

I’m just off to watch my copy of Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac….such a shame I couldn’t watch it in Villagio.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Anon

I’m not disagreeing with your sentiment; but I have to ask, what are those “societies with no censorship”? It maybe less extreme and rigged in what is referred to as the West, but you still have movie ratings, and they do impact the decision’s by movie theaters of whether to not screen those movies and at what times.

Moreover, what can and cannot be shown and said on TV is even more rigged than the movies. Just to give you an idea; the Pokemon anime which is aimed mainly at children, has been heavily censored in the U.S.m with some episodes being banned completely.

Mr. B
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

While that’s true, it’s also not ideal. U.S. censorship laws as enforced by the FCC are just as pointless and backwards.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Did you research why they were not aired? They weren’t banned just not aired. There IS a difference. The content was inappropriate for kids and in the USA Pokemon was directed at and aired for kids during prime children programming hours. some have since aired, others not. In Asia the audience is a more mature audience.

2 others were temporarily pulled after the 9/11 attacks due to the similarities of episode to real life. They have since aired. there are a few others that weren’t included in series. But as I said in the USA it’s a childrens show. In Asia it’s more mature audience. If you watched anime you’d have to agree that most of it is very adult in nature.

Look beyond what is done to understand why it is done.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Please, do not presume to lecture me on a topic I have read about and researched extensively. Here’s a list in case you were wondering:

http://www.psypokes.com/anime/censor.php

Moreover, the discussion here is about censorship, which would include episodes not being aired or being heavily edited.

” If you watched anime you’d have to agree that most of it is very adult in nature.” I do watch a lot of anime, and while many are clearly targeted at adults, others are meant for children. Pokemon fits the latter.

Another example is the Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game. 2 classes of monster cards known in Japan as Angel and Demon have been renamed in the English (American) version as Fairy & Fiend due to the religious implications of the original names. Here is another list: http://yugioh.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_modified_card_artworks

Perhaps you’ve missed my other comment, so I’m just going to copy / paste it here:

Cultural differences between different countries and regions will always cause some form of censorship and editing for artistic materials (especially ones with images) when the material is made available to the public. Something that is considered normal and even innocent in one culture, maybe deemed very offensive in another. It really cannot be helped.

Many kids shows that produced in Japan are heavily censored when they’re imported to other regions, even North America and Europe. That’s due to the different views on what’s deemed to be acceptable to be viewed by children and young adults.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Again, anime in the US is a kids toy. In asia it’s a much more adult entertainment. the Angels and Demons were changed for marketing not religious reasons. Thinking was Fairy and Fiend would be less offensive to parents buying them for their kids. Had a prof in college who worked on the US marketing and we had that very discussion.

Those not aired included one where a main character is trying to win a bathing suit contest and has pump up breast and boast to the effect that “one day maybe you’ll have boobs like this”. Another induced seizures in some kids. 2 others were delayed as they almost mirrored 9/11. Another for continued weapons use during entire episode. Some were unflattering to african americans…….. I reiterate in the US Pokemon is a kids things. I have no problem as a parent with this.

The difference is that helping us watch after our kids welfare versus telling a 40 yr old man he can’t watch sex/violence in a movie or hear the word “PORK” on TV is totally another. As I tell my son, “until your 18 you have to listen to your mom and dad”. So are we censors? When he;s 18 he’s an adult. Able to vote, drive, … until then his safety is protected by his parents and by his country.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

What’s the risk to the safety in seeing James enter a bikini contest in drag and with pumped breasts? I didn’t hear of it causing any problems among the Japanese kids who saw it? Couldn’t they have changed the dialogue?

Why, I also recall a number of times in both Loony Tunes and Tom & Jerry where male characters were in drag and had pumped breasts of sort, those were some classics. And don’t get me started on Wile coyote and all the killer (literally) inventions he made. Suddenly guns in cartoons are offensive!

Also, why would parents be offended by the words angels and demons?

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

You keep harping on one episode. So would you concede that the others had some validity? Or none? Seizures anyone?

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

I’m going to love the comments on this one.

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Because it is difficult for u to understand and difficult for you to digest

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

No because everyone thinks their version of censorship is the correct one.

Jen
Jen
6 years ago

The actual real life things I see and hear in daily life need censorship then! (all countries included). We cannot escape our real world and people need to be free to choose what to see or not in films. Films should not be censored but played as they were meant to be portrayed. I only agree that there should be age restriction for children who are still developing their moral compass in life and that a warning should be placed (as it already is) about any graphic content or potentially offensive (to some) material. I do believe that internet sites which allow access to material that violates human rights and promotes abuse in any form should be blocked.

KH
KH
6 years ago

I’am a Western expat and I appreciate the censorship. Not all expats appreciate the vulgarity and nudity in Hollywood movies today. I am thankful for the censorship in this country.

Gareth Walters
Gareth Walters
6 years ago
Reply to  KH

You have missed the point of censorship then havent you. it has nothing to do with appreceating “vulgarity and nudity” it is about freedom of expression and freedom to choose the material that you, yourself view. you could live in the west and avoid vulgarity and nudity if you so wish, just as you can in any other part of the world.
but as free thinking adults it is our right as humans to make our own choices for good or ill.

Anon
Anon
6 years ago
Reply to  KH

What a ridiculously pious, but yet fatuous response……..even if Nymphomaniac was the only film on loop at all the cinemas here and the Satanic Verses was the only ‘other’ book you could buy or read, you, personally, KH, would not have read or watch either! You could avoid them. Don’t you get it? Spare me your false moral outrage and empty virtuousness.

If you like censorship so much, why don’t you go away to North Korea, you’d love it there.

KH
KH
6 years ago
Reply to  Anon

You are correct Anon, I am neither pious nor virtuous. However, this has nothing to do with me. Regardless of whether I read or watched either and avoided those both, does not necessarily mean there should be no censorship for the good of society. That isn’t an argument. It is simply an imposition of your own moral standards (or lack thereof), the very thing which you are outraged against!

Gareth Walters
Gareth Walters
6 years ago
Reply to  KH

so why do you not have the right to be your own judge of moral standards. why should anyone else decide what is right for you or me to think. impose your own moral standards on yourself, not other people.

KH
KH
6 years ago
Reply to  Gareth Walters

Rules and laws exists in any society in order to keep that society within a range of moral limits. I could say I have the right to view explicit images of children, what right do you have to impose moral standards on me? Yet this is censored in most countries. You fail to realize that all laws are the imposition of some moral standard on the people. Anything else is anarchy.

Anon
Anon
6 years ago
Reply to  KH

But do you have the theoretical right to views those images, as the creation of the images required the (presumable) breaking of laws? That’s very different from being able to choose to watch or read something controversial, but which hasn’t broken any laws in its production.

You again labour under the illusion that censorship in this age has any meaningful effect on keeping societies on the straight and narrow…….

KH
KH
6 years ago
Reply to  Anon

According to U.S. law, the very reason the government decided these types of images should be censored was because the government had a “compelling interest in safeguarding the physical and psychological well being of others, especially minors”.

Apparently, I am not the only one under the “illusion” that censorship in this age has any meaningful effect on society.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  KH

Wow…

You try to cite law, but then misquote it. I hope you’ve done that by accident, and not because you are trying to deliberately deceive people through lies.

In English, when words are put in inverted commas, it means you are quoting the words EXACTLY as they originally appeared.

So let’s try by putting the correct words in the correct order, and not the words you have provided.

The Court stated:

The government asserts that shielding minors from access to indecent materials is the compelling interest supporting the CDA. It cites in support the statements of the Supreme Court that “‘[i]t is evident beyond the need for elaboration that a State’s interest in `safeguarding the physical and psychological well-being of a minor’ is`compelling,'” New York v. Ferber, 458 U.S. 747, 757 (1982)(quoting Globe Newspaper Co. v. Superior Court, 457 U.S. 596, 607 (1982)), and “‘there is a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors. This interest extends to shielding minors from the influence of literature that is not obscene by adult standards.’

You’ll see the difference between what the court said, and what you claim the court said.

Let’s boil it down to the important phrase…

Court:`safeguarding the physical and psychological well-being of a minor’

vs

KH: “compelling interest in safeguarding the physical and psychological well being of others, especially minors”

Where did the words “others, especially” [minors] come from? Did you just make up a bit of court room reporting to suit your argument?

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  KH

I couldn’t argue that you don’t have a ‘right to view explicit images of children’. But I, and I would say certainly everyone else on this thread, would argue that no one has the right to PRODUCE explicit images of children.

Consenting adults viewing explicit images of other consenting adults is a TOTALLY different scenario to consenting adults viewing explicit images of non-consenting children.

Surely the difference is obvious?

Anon
Anon
6 years ago
Reply to  KH

….but you must be virtuous if you’re such a fan of censorship…how could you not be? Or you don’t trust your own instincts to function within certain personal moral parameters?

KH
KH
6 years ago
Reply to  Anon

I believe there is no one righteous, not even one. No one who does good, including myself. So yes, in answer to your question, I do not trust my own instincts to function within certain moral parameters. For I know that nothing good dwells within me.

Anon
Anon
6 years ago
Reply to  KH

We’re all flawed, yes, but I don’t need dogma or censorship to help me live a good, honourable life ….’do to others as you would expect and hope to be done to you’ is all you need, really…….I’m sure there is something good in you, KH, surely (despite your acceptance of repressive censorship)?! Your last sentence sounded a bit worrying……! Chin up……

Expat Girl
Expat Girl
6 years ago
Reply to  KH

KH- suggest you stop replying as things are getting increasingly bleak for you. You have the right to not watch anything that offends you, so exercise that right and move on, stop imposing your views on other adults who have the right to watch whichever Hollywood movie they so choose. I’m just looking out for you at this point!

Desert Witch
Desert Witch
6 years ago
Reply to  Anon

I agree with KH. I like the conservativeness here. It has been a healthier environment to bring up our children in than the UK. Our children get to be children for longer with less pressure from peer groups and advertising. Our daughter is not constantly bombarded with ads promoting the objectification of women to sell everything from cereals to cars.
Liking a culture for its conservativeness is not pious nor virtuous. It’s simply stating a point of view. The same as you have done. Except KH did it better.

Anon
Anon
6 years ago
Reply to  Desert Witch

Your daughter may not be bombarded with ads objectifying women, but instead she sees many women obliged, because of dogma and societal pressures, to hide themselves away behind the veil and abaya. And how many women does she get to see here as elevated members of society? Relatively few. The point is that your belief as this being somewhere much healthier to bring up children is far too simplistic….it’s a very nuanced picture in a complex world. And remember, as expats, we lead a slightly strange, sheltered, bubble-like existence…..will that be of ultimate benefit to your daughter as she grows up?

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Desert Witch

Sometimes such ultra conservatism can backfire as well. We had a saying that “the preachers daughter was the wildest of them all”. Meaning you lock people in a conservative all inclusive environment and make everything forbidden it becomes the famous forbidden fruit. Once they taste it, with no background in dealing with it, they become all consumed. Have seen it happen here and the west.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  KH

All depends. Today the violence and nudity seems gratuitous and contrived and servers no real purpose in the film or show. Seems like directors think we lemmings won’t go see a movie unless 1000 people die and they die boinking another 1000 or so.

٩(͡๏̯͡๏)۶
٩(͡๏̯͡๏)۶
6 years ago

If for whatever reason the individuals that participated in the survey are incapable of making a personal choice then I guess the government has no other option than to tell them what they can or cannot watch.

An acquaintance of mine has a cat that constantly licked it’s paws until they become red raw, subsequently the poor cat had great difficulty walking around. For whatever reason no matter what the owner tried the cat would not stop. Now the cat walks around with bright orange shoes on, the cat may look stupid but it no longer licks it’s paws.

wee_johnnie
wee_johnnie
6 years ago

I’m still trying to understand the point of censorship to protect traditional values when Arab TV channels (eg MBC) are regularly pumping out movies with lots of violence etc, which cannot align with these values. These programmes are also going out throughout the day when they can be viewed by children, so no watershed like other countries. The blanking of a few swear words and the odd scene cut is nothing compared to the level of violence.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  wee_johnnie

Ot beeping out the word PORK is my favorite. lol

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
6 years ago

A grown up should behave like a grown up and not like a new born baby….nudity or vulgarity makes no sense..it will just spoil the mind…we need to behave like humans and not like beasts…sex or nudity is good personally within 4 walls…if beyond it is animal behaviour

Mr. B
6 years ago

I think that sentiment has been disproved. If you can point to a society that has collapsed because of either in their media, you might have a case. But no society dies out because it gets too honest with the human condition.

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

I wrote a lengthy reply to your ridiculous suggestion, but irony of ironies, it was censored…….I can’t be bothered to write it all out again, but the existence of naturists is only one way to disprove your dogmatic absurdities. And, like it or not, you are an animal and anything you do is ‘animal behaviour’.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago

Cultural differences between different countries and regions will always cause some form of censorship and editing for artistic materials (especially ones with images) when the material is made available to the public. Something that is considered normal and even innocent in one culture, maybe deemed very offensive in another. It really cannot be helped.

Many kids shows that produced in Japan are heavily censored when they’re imported to other regions, even North America and Europe. That’s due to the different views on what’s deemed to be acceptable for being viewed by children and young adults.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

I love the Jesus and Mo cartoons and they are blocked here. It satrically funny and harmless.

Remember, you have the right to be offended, but you do not have the right to never be offended.

Net-guy
Net-guy
6 years ago

A government doing this for its citizens is it much different than a parent doing it for their children.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

I’m often “surprised” at the language used on the radio and the songs that are played – and that on a station that has exclusively English speaking presenters. Something doesn’t quite add up

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