Accuracy in Media

The Huffington Post, supposedly a template for new media reporting on current events and world hot spots, has published a whitewash of the dictatorship in Qatar. The author, Shabina S. Khatri, says protests against the regime are going nowhere because the people enjoy good living standards and don’t face a crime problem. What’s more, the Emir of Qatar, who runs the dictatorship there, is “benevolent,” she says.

Officially, the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, is known as “His Highness.”

This Huffington Post story gives new meaning to the term “lapdog press.”

She writes that “…Qataris are for the most part known for living a comfortable lifestyle, and most wouldn’t dream of making a public stink about what they consider to be in-house problems in their country.”

Those minor “in-house problems” include such matters as human rights abuses and the absence of free elections.

She does mention that “…just over the weekend, human rights groups broke the news that a Qatari blogger has been detained and being held incommunicado by authorities. The fear is that the blogger, Sultan al-Khalaifi, is at risk of torture or other ill treatment.”

AIM covered this dramatic development and now calls on the Emir of Qatar to immediately free the imprisoned blogger. The Embassy of Qatar can be contacted at 202-274-1600.

Since she is based in Doha, Qatar, why doesn’t Shabina S. Khatri try to visit the imprisoned blogger? What about an article on the lack of press freedom in Qatar? Why not press the authorities about why a blogger cannot enjoy freedom of speech?

There is no chance of that. She writes, “…as people across the Middle East rally against their regimes, Qatar appears to be the only country in the Arabian Gulf to escape unscathed by the politics. And not just because the country, run by a benevolent Emir, has a very persuasive police force.”

Is this the same “very persuasive police force” that apprehended the Qatari blogger? How can the Huffington Post publish such pro-regime nonsense?

If Shabina S. Khatri tried to contact that jailed blogger, would she face jail herself?

Khatri is described as “an American journalist free-lancing in Doha, Qatar,” and the founder of the Muslim American Journalists Association. It did not mention what another bio discloses—that she has worked for Al-Jazeera English, which is funded by the regime.

This presents an obvious conflict of interest that seems to have escaped the Huffington Post.

Nevertheless, she has academic credentials. Her bio discloses that “Currently, Khatri is an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University in Qatar’s Medill School of Journalism,” an affiliate of the Chicago-area university.

So being a shill for Qatar qualifies you for teaching journalism in Qatar. That is hardly surprising.

One of her previous stories about unrest in Egypt was titled, “Qatar: Mubarak must go, residents say.” It seems some residents of Qatar expressed the hope that the Egyptian ruler should go. But as far as the Emir of Qatar is concerned, that apparently is a taboo subject.

Critical reporting on the dictatorship in Qatar might land one in jail.




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