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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Al Jazeera critical of Qatar?

(Scroll down for the movie.)

In the You Tube movie at the bottom of this post Al Jazeera, often very critical of foreign countries but cautious when it comes to biting the hand that feeds it, dwells on the plight of migrant workers in Qatar. The video pulls no punches: "They are not even treating us as human beings," says a worker at one point in the video.

We find the video fascinating. There are already contradictory forces at work in Qatar. On the one hand the Doha Media Freedom center is invited to set up here, and it doesn't take long it gets into a blazing row. On the other hand journalists, who often have their passports taken away for the duration of their stay here (hopefully new legislation will put a stop to this) are often careful of just what they say. Jail sentences handed out, although often for journalists who have returned to their home country before their trial, reinforce this.

At the same time, a decision has obviously been taken not to censor high profile websites like Qatar Living, as well as smaller blogs like this one. In Qatar Living especially there is no topic which has not been discussed, from politics to religion to the personal characteristics of Qataris. To date just one post has been censored - that featuring images of a censored book: Winnie the Pooh.

The movie below is not directly critical of Qatar, but does draw attention to the workers suffering here. While viewers can only have sympathy for these labourers, allowing this video to be broadcast is a very positive step forward for Qatar.

Also see: Qatar Labourers: No Place to Go

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