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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Shame on Qatar National Day - Apology

An apology has been posted on facebook for the thread on Qatar Living which caused the recent outrage in Qatar.

To All the Qataris who I have hurt and upset, I will repeat this one last time in the hopes that the sincere message will finally be accepted. I am deeply sorry for criticizing anything related to the celebration of your special day and using such a thoughtless choice of words and tone. It is very clear after the 2 days of hell that I have been going through that my words hurt and that they opened up a platform for more hurtful words. I am grieving as a Muslim to know that my brothers and sisters feel such anger, outrage and hurt for something I did.
A number of Qataris accepted the apology, some very graciously, with one writing:
Apology accepted and the case is dismissed :) Thank you Lisa for taking the time and effort to write the above apology message.. It proved that you have a kind heart inside of you and that you are open to listen to others’ opinions’ and advices regarding your actions.
You can read the full apology and the replies here: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=209632513836&topic=12733

Incidentally, I have read the original post (thanks to Shabina and her post on the furore on Global Voices, which links to the cached version here), and I don't think it was meant as an attack on Qataris or Qatar, rather a criticism of the behaviour of Qatari youths on National Day. The problem is perhaps the rather strident way in which it was written (at a time of emotion).

Qatari blogger Amal Al Malki seems to confirm this, writing:

Criticism can be harsh. I think that criticism should be harsh, and that burying one’s head never changed anything. It is only when some one exposes the problematic status quo, critiques it and provides alternatives that a situation changes. In order to progress, we need to constantly evaluate our present to better our future. Yet, the criticism needs to come from a good place within us—one that hopes for the prosperity of one’s country.

What makes us angry isn’t the criticism in specific but its language!

It's also very true that criticism of our own country is much harder to take from an expat that from oneself or one's country people. I know Brits who always moan about the UK but bristle when foreigners start putting the country down.

So there's a balancing act for us expats who like to shoot their mouth off. On this blog, we take the view that we are not here to change Qatar - that's a job for Qataris, should they wish to do so. That doesn't mean we don't want to write about these issues, though, not least because one of the aims of the blog is to provide information for people thinking of coming to Qatar, and trying to decide if Qatar is right for them. To do that we need to give our opinion.

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