Qatari news website raises ‘censorship’ concerns

Doha News says it has been blocked by the Gulf country’s two internet service providers – with no reason why.

msheirib downtown doha
Doha News has published content in the Qatari capital for the past eight years

Doha, Qatar – An English-language news website in Qatar has raised the issue of “censorship” after it was blocked by the country’s two internet service providers simultaneously for reasons unknown.

Doha News, which has operated for eight years in the capital, said in a statement on Thursday that the site’s URL had been inaccessible by internet users inside the country since Wednesday – with the exception of those with access to a VPN (virtual private network) or unfiltered corporate internet.

The website was available to those outside Qatar, however.

Omar Chatriwala, a co-founder of Doha News, told Al Jazeera: “We’re reaching out to authorities to understand why this has happened. Although there’s been no public or official comment on the matter, our initial discussions with them have indicated this won’t be immediately resolved.”

The two internet service providers, Vodafone Qatar and state-controlled Ooredoo, declined to comment.

Earlier, when the site’s administrators tried to divert followers to another domain name, the new URL was also blocked soon after, the Doha News statement said.

“We are incredibly disappointed with this decision, which appears to be an act of censorship,” it said.

There was no immediate response from the Qatari government.

Some Qataris took to social media saying they were upset at the news site being blocked, while others said they supported the move because of overly critical reporting by Doha News.

Source: Al Jazeera