A local bank in Qatar has come under fire this week for publicly criticizing an outgoing senior bank employee, in what critics are calling defamation of a Qatari woman.
On Monday, Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQ) posted a “warning” in English in the Gulf Times and in Arabic in Al Raya, advising people against dealing with outgoing executive general manager and chief human capital officer Sharoq Al Malki.
The quarter-page color advertisement included a photograph of Al-Malki and said the bank was taking legal action against her for continuing to use her job title despite being fired in December of last year.
Al Malki’s LinkedIn profile still shows her working for CBQ, but it is not clear what social media activity the bank has taken issue with.
A source close to the situation said that Al Malki is still employed with the bank, as she was given six months’ notice when she received her letter of termination, dated Dec. 9. Thus, her last day as a CBQ employee will be June 9.
Today, following an online uproar in support of Al Malki, the privately owned Qatari bank has published another advertisement defending its first ad.
That notice states that CBQ “has not intended to harm a Qatari national by any means,” nor intended to “breach the principles, the values and the morals of the valued Qatari society, which are highly respected, appreciated and followed by the Commercial Bank.”
CBQ also described its decision to publicly name Al Malki as its “usual action followed with all personnel when their work relationship comes to an end.”
In Qatar, it is common to publish small advertisements in newspapers noting the end of an employee’s position with an individual company.
However, the size and wording of CBQ’s notice about a Qatari national is unusual and has prompted residents to criticize the bank for defaming Al Malki.
Online, people have posted hundreds of tweets defending Al Malki and questioning the bank’s tactics using the hashtag #Sharoq _AlMalki (#شروق_المالكي).
For example, Qatari journalist and TV presenter Hassan Al Sai said:
من الممكن حل الامر بطريقة أخرى غير التشهير بهذه الطريقة ..
ابنة قطر لا نقبل ان يتم التعامل معها بهذه الطريقة
— حسن الساعي (@Hassan_alsai) May 23, 2016
Translation: The issue could’ve been solved in a better manner, besides defaming her in this way…We do not accept that Qatar’s daughter be treated like this.
— خالد جاسم (@khalidjassem74) May 23, 2016
Translation: When some tried to bring you down, God turned that into support. They wanted to close the doors in (your face) but God opened 1,000 other doors (instead).
Others alluded to rumors that Al Malki had been fired for being a whistle-blower at the bank:
#شروق_المالكي نفذت وصية سمو الأمير المفدى بمحاربة الفساد فكان نصيبها الفصل التعسفي من المتنفعين … ثقتنا بعودة الحق لأصحابه
— د.درع معجب الدوسري (@dera_aldosari) May 23, 2016
Translation: (She) followed the instructions of the Emir to fight against corruption and in return she was fired by those who benefited (from the corruption)…we believe that (she will take her rights back).
And some even offered her a job:
أختي #شروق_المالكي :
تتشرف مجموعة علي بن علي
بكافة شركاتها باستقبالك بأي وظيفة مناسبة لك .
— عادل علي بن علي (@AdelAliBinAli) May 23, 2016
Translation: To my sister # Sharoq _Al Malki: Ali Bin Ali Group and its partners is honored to offer you any job that suits you.
Many appeared to consider the matter a cultural insult. Hamad bin Lahdan Al Muhannadi, deputy chairman of the Central Municipal Council (CMC) said:
بغض النظر عن القوانين والاجراءات بمثل هذه الحالات ، نحن في قطر مجتمع محافظ ، لدينا عادات وتقاليد ، التشهير امر مستغرب لدينا.
— حمد لحدان المهندي (@hamadlahdan) May 23, 2016
Translation: Besides the laws and procedures in these cases, we are a conservative community in Qatar, we have customs and traditions and defaming is uncommon here.
Translation: I don’t know what the story of sister Sharoq is with the bank, but whatever it is, it’s wrong to defame her. It’s not part of the customs and culture we grew up in.
However, others argued that CBQ did not malign Al Malki.
Translation: There isn’t any defamation here or anything – it’s the relation between an employee and a bank – but because she is a Qatari employee, your emotions took over. The defamation was in creating this hashtag. That’s my opinion and thank you.
Both CBQ and Al Malki declined to comment to Doha News about the situation.
However, on Twitter yesterday Al Malki thanked those who had supported her for showing “the chivalry and unity of the people of one nation.”
Alluding to ongoing legal action concerning the incidents, she added: “The (case) is now taking its legal course and we all believe in the justice of our judicial system.”