DOHA Dec 1 An independent English-language news
site in Qatar accused the Gulf state of censorship on Thursday,
saying two internet service providers had blocked access to its
The Doha News, which stirred a debate about the limits of
tolerance in the conservative country in August with an opinion
column on gay rights in Qatar, said the two internet firms had
simultaneously barred access to its website on Wednesday.
"We can only conclude that our website has been deliberately
targeted and blocked by Qatar authorities," the Doha News said
in a statement. "We are incredibly disappointed with this
decision, which appears to be an act of censorship."
A Qatar government spokesman was not immediately available
for comment. One of the two internet service providers is
state-controlled Ooredoo. The company declined to
The other is Vodafone Qatar, which ended Ooredoo's
domestic monopoly in 2009. A Vodafone spokeswoman did not
respond to telephone calls.
Internet users outside of Qatar were able to access the
The gas-rich Gulf state has faced increased media scrutiny
over alleged corruption and labour abuse ahead of its hosting of
the 2022 soccer World Cup.
Freedom of expression is tightly controlled in Qatar with
self-censorship prevalent among national newspapers and other
Qatar finances and hosts the pan-Arab satellite TV network
al-Jazeera which has won millions of viewers across the Arab
world and beyond as well as the government-funded Doha Centre
for Media Freedom.
A 2016 survey by Northwestern University, one of six
prominent U.S. schools with branches in the country, showed most
Qataris support the principle of free speech online. But the
same survey also showed that a majority of Qataris want the
internet to be more tightly regulated.
A close U.S. ally that hosts a large U.S. military base,
Doha has escaped the unrest that has engulfed other parts of the
region. It lacks any organised political opposition.
(Reporting by Tom Finn; Editing by Richard Lough)