By: Basheer Al-Adl - Cairo
Qatar puts a false front of being a champion of free speech

Qatar’s attempts to deceive the public and manipulate local, regional and international opinion never seem to end. For this, its pet phrases are “freedom of opinion and expression" and "supporting democracy in powerless, vulnerable countries.”
By using such pretexts, Qatar has infiltrated other countries to achieve its own objectives and serve the interests of greater powers, which use Qatar as a tool to achieve their ambitions.
Qatar uses its Al-Jazeera channel to spread its deceptive message of “freedom of opinion”. And it uses so-called developmental aid in the name of “supporting democracy.” It is using Al-Jazeera to poison minds of the people, while it is using aid to infiltrate various countries and influence people, particularly in Africa.
However, chanting "freedom of opinion" did help it for long. Al-Jazeera was unmasked as a tool for supporting foreign occupation of Arab lands and for achieving the ambitions of some other countries in the Gulf region and the Arab region at large.
The political events in North African countries have unmasked what this self-styled developmental aid is. As it turned out, the primary aim of the aid was to control foreign governments and regimes, and to eventually take hold of the resources of these nations.
Recent Qatari legislations have also belied its stand as an advocate of freedom of expression. It has been criticized by international organizations for curbing such freedom. Doha’s legislation on cybercrimes has clearly proved that its championing of free speech is nothing but a bunch of hollow statements.
In the face of suppressive measures adopted by the Hamad regime, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) had earlier called on Qatar to reconsider its cybercrime laws, which are full of broad terminologies. The CPJ asserted that the law undermines freedom of speech and leaves room for misuse, allowing easy arrest of journalists. The harsh law explains the lack of criticism against the Qatari regime.
The CPJ explained that it is ostensibly aimed at stopping cybercrimes. However, in many of its articles, it restricts the freedom of expression. The CPJ called on the Qatari authorities to annul the articles that authorize imprisonment and heavy fines. “Offenders” will attract a three-year prison term and a fine of up to 100,000 Qatari riyals. The law has been severely criticized by global organizations for its suppression of freedom.
Amnesty International, too, has described the cybercrime law as a threat to freedom of expression. It threatens social media activists and does not allow them to express their opinion. It stressed that the law as a whole is a form of direct repression of freedom of opinion and expression.
The organization also asserted that the articles of the law are vaguely defined and blatantly violate international standards. These articles effectively provide the government with wide powers to punish whoever publishes or exchanges digital content found by officials to be detrimental to Qatar's social values or national interests. It has become evident that the regime is incapable of facing whatever it wants to export abroad and to its Gulf neighbors.
The world has now seen the true face of Qatar, even as it tries to project itself as a progressive country committed to respecting human rights and freedom of opinion and expression. The regime’s complete disregard for human rights and freedom of expression has been exposed, even as it continues to hound people who use the social media.

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