Doha News website blocked in Qatar

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), also known as Reporters sans frontières, condemns the blocking of the Doha News website in Qatar for unknown reasons since 30 November and calls on the Qatari authorities to restore access to this popular English-language online newspaper.

According to the website’s staff, the blocking is being implemented by local Internet service providers Vodafone and Ooredoo and is a deliberate act of censorship by the government. It is the first time the site has been blocked since its creation in 2009.

“This censorship has dealt a severe blow to media freedom in Qatar,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of the Middle East desk at RSF, also known as Reporters sans frontières.

“Although Qatar revolutionized the media scene by creating the TV news broadcaster Al-Jazeera, it continues to be a country where local journalists censor themselves. An outspoken media outlet should not be silenced for contributing to the public debate. We urge the authorities to explain themselves and to restore access to this news site.”

The reason for the blocking is still unknown. When reached by RSF, the Communications Regulatory Authority denied blocking any content. RSF also tried to talk to the communications ministry but received no response.

Doha News has been one of the few independent media outlets in Qatar that tackled sensitive political and social issues as if it had nothing to fear from the authorities. Draconian legislation and an effective system of censorship leave local journalists little leeway.

Qatar is ranked 117th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 02.12.2016