Tag Archives: Qatar

Al Jazeera reports its Cairo office attacked and burned

Arabic television network Al Jazeera has reported that its Cairo office has been attacked by “a gang of thugs”.

According to the network’s report, the office has “been burned along with all the equipment inside it.”

Al Jazeera’s Cairo office was reportedly shut down last Sunday, following the network’s coverage of protests in the country, with staff stripped of their press credentials and detained.

It has since reported interference with its coverage and, this morning, the replacing of a banner advert on its site by hackers with a slogan reading “Together for the collapse of Egypt”, which linked to a page criticising the broadcaster.


Comment is Free: Al-Jazeera is not Qatar’s ‘poodle’

Mark Seddon, a journalist formerly with Al-Jazeera, responds to yesterday’s reports on US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks that suggested the Arabic arm of the broadcaster has been used as a “tool of foreign policy” by the Qatari government,

[T]he idea that al-Jazeera tempers its editorial content at the behest of the emir of Qatar, who mainly finances it, is possibly as fanciful as the WikiLeaks report that US diplomats believed their South Korean counterparts when they said that China might recognise a unified Korea under the aegis of Seoul. Conjecture does not always meet with reality. Al-Jazeera, in its swashbuckling and sometimes disorganised way, has shown itself quite adept at resisting pressure wherever it may come from.

Full article on Comment is Free at this link…

‘Hostage in Qatar’: jailed for three years with hard labour unless raises appeal money

A report from The National.

“A Belgian national who claims he has been ‘held hostage’ in Qatar by his sponsor since the company he worked for fell into financial difficulty last year, has been sentenced to three years in prison with hard labour.”

On June 22 the former managing director of Dialogic Qatar, Philippe Bogaert, discovered he had been sentenced to three years imprisonment. Bogaert, who has been publicising his case via Twitter, said: “I can pay 500 Riyals to freeze the judgment and appeal. Then I will have to be represented by a Qatari lawyer during the next hearings.”

Bogaert told Journalism.co.uk: “If I raise the money, I can appeal so won’t go to jail (yet). But unfortunately, I’ll still be far from free…”

If you have further information to add to this story please contact judith at journalism.co.uk.

RSF founder leaves Doha Centre for Media Freedom

Disappointing (if somewhat predicted) news from Doha’s Centre for Media Freedom: founder of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and director-general of the centre, Robert Menard, has left with his team (heads of the assistance, research and communications departments), according to a release from the organisation.

“For several months we have made an independent voice heard, one that has exposed violence with concern for nothing but the truth. We have helped more than 250 endangered journalists and media all over the world, and I think we can be proud of that,” said Menard in the statement.

“But some Qatari officials never wanted an independent Centre, free to speak out without concern for politics or diplomacy, free to criticise even Qatar. How can we have any credibility if we keep quiet about problems in the country that is our host? Now the Centre has been suffocated. We no longer have either the freedom or the resources to do our work. This cannot go on. I was willing to make any necessary compromises as long as the foundations of our work – assistance grants, statements of opinion – were safeguarded. But that is no longer the case.”

The Financial Times reported last month on clashes between Menard and Qatari officials.

In his departing statement, Menard criticised the local authorities for hampering the centre’s efforts. He claimed that staff from the centre were being prevented from leaving the country and that payment of the centre’s budget, scheduled for April 1, had been repeatedly delayed.

“Sheikh Hamad refused to sign administrative documents that would have enabled the Centre to take in journalists under threat in their own countries, as originally planned. His office told us recently that giving shelter to journalists from countries such as Iran might go against Qatar’s diplomatic interests. This confirmed that the Centre’s independence was, in his eyes, a myth,” said Menard.

The Economist: Rows at Doha Centre for Media Freedom

From The Economist: ‘A freedom-promoting media centre is accused of going too far too fast’. The organisation’s head, founder and former secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Robert Ménard, is involved in rows with Qatari officials and critics.

“When the Qataris asked Robert Ménard to run what they heralded as the world’s first press freedom centre, in Doha, their capital, they were probably asking for trouble. An intrepid Frenchman who had previously run a Paris-based lobby, Reporters Without Borders, Mr Ménard is famous for courting controversy. Last year he disrupted a torch-lighting ceremony in Greece that was meant to be a dignified prelude to the Olympic games in China. Later he scaled Notre Dame Cathedral and unfurled a protest banner as the torch was carried through Paris. Now, only months after becoming head of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom, he is entangled in a row that may well be more bitter than anything he has experienced.”

Full story at this link…

FT.com: UN criticised for hosting press freedom day in Qatar

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has criticised the United Nations for hosting its annual World Free Press Day in Qatar – a state where domestic media is suppressed, says the body.

Full story at this link…

WAN: Arab Press Forum protests against travel restrictions

“Delegates to the Arab Free Press Forum have condemned travel restrictions imposed by authorities in several Arab countries that prevented some speakers and participants from attending the event,” reports the World Association of Newspapers.

Several journalists who were due to participate were prevented from travelling from Egypt, Tunisia, Qatar, Libya and Syria.