PtG Article 13.05.2016

Journalists question media's working conditions in Qatar

How well will Qatar tackle critical reporting, ask two Danish journalists after being held back and interrogated while doing a documentary on the 2022 FIFA World Cup preparations.

Two journalists from the Danish Media Corporation (DR) went to Qatar to do a documentary on FIFA’ choice of Qatar as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

In an article, posted on DR’s website, journalists Niels Borchert Holm and Rasmus Horskjær account for how they were arrested, detained and questioned for hours by Qatari authorities on their way to ‘Labour City’, a workers’ complex outside of Doha, to film a group of laborers working on the constructions of World Cup stadia.

The journalists suggest their arrest was a set-up to keep them from reporting critically about Qatar.

“The reason given for our arrest – that we had permissions in the form of emails rather than printed copies – seems completely arbitrary, a pretense to detain and interrogate us,” Holm and Horskjær write.

While detained, the journalists were interrogated by officials refusing to identify themselves. “We represent the Ministry of Interior, that’s all you need to know,” they said, according to the article. The officials were not only interested in why the journalists were in Qatar but also had questions of a different character, the journalists recall:

“Absurdly, the conversation then turns to journalistic standards and ethics. Why are the media so critical of Qatar, he asks us. Why don’t journalists tell the positive stories?” the DR journalists recall.

After being detained for the better part of the day and having memory cards and other material confiscated, the journalists were released and headed back to their hotel in Doha, ready to return to Denmark.

“Having reflected on this experience, we have just a few simple questions for the Qatari authorities. What is so important to hide about workers’ living and working conditions that it is better to jail and interrogate journalists, to confiscate their work? And looking forward, what do you intend to do? Next time, you’ll be dealing with more than a small Danish film crew. If all goes according to plan, you’ll be welcoming thousands of journalists for the world cup in six years. What will you do then, lock up all ungrateful journalists? Or will the people who built your stadiums and infrastructure be put away?,” Holm and Horskjær ask.

Read the entire article here:

Interrogated in Qatar: Why are journalists so critical?