LTE to the Economist by the Government Communications Office Deputy Director for Media Affairs
Your article on Qatar did not reflect the reality of freedom of expression in the country and a law that has been amended to prevent the spread of false and malicious information (“Tamim the gloriously tolerant”, February 15th). Similar legislation exists in many democratic countries. In France a law was introduced in 2018 to tackle the manipulation of information and its deliberate dissemination. As the target of sustained state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, “deep fakes” and cyberattacks, Qatar understands the dangers of information manipulation better than anyone.
In line with the un’s covenant on civil and political rights, to which Qatar is fully committed, this amendment was passed as a protection against major, co-ordinated hacking and disinformation operations trying to fracture the region. It is not open to abuse and will not limit expression, speech or reporting in or about Qatar.
No country has done more than Qatar to improve media freedom in the region. The debate on this amendment from within Qatar itself, including from local media and social-media users, demonstrates that individuals and platforms can criticise a law without consequence.
Thamer Al Thani
Government Communications Office