Censorship in Qatar

Qatari censorship I found this inside the 22 November edition of Newsweek magazine, which I’d purchased from a store in Doha. It obviously was applied by hand via magic marker.

7 thoughts on “Censorship in Qatar”

  1. Actually, this is a woman’s back and not a stellar example of the censorship but the most recent one.
    My favorite example is how weeks after we got here I purchased ‘Entertainment Weekly’ for an interview with RenĂ©e Zellweger about her work in ‘Cold Mountain’ and ‘Chicago.’ I got it home and found four pages missing. I went back to the store a bit upset but found each issue of this magazine like this. Apparently the pictures associated were just two big and too ‘hardcore’ for a little magic marker so they just tore them out completely.
    That black pen is everywhere. Most anything that comes from outside is apparently cleared before sale. Media that is judged generally over the top is stopped at the gate. I can’t buy Esquire magazine and many others in Qatar. I have to pick them up when in Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain or Dubai.
    Some of the magazines that do circulate here have gone a step more. A recent copy of ‘Arabian Man’ has a fashion shoot where a number of pictures of a woman wearing several different semi-low cut or shoulderless outfits have been altered via photoshop before the magazine every went to print. The bare areas are covered up to the appropriate point. It’s a pretty good job too. They use gray rather than the invasive black and smooth shapes that make it look nearly like a layer of the outfit.
    I understand it is the nature of the region but I’m still not used to it and still not able to compute how action movies will show heads blown off and guts pouring out but will cut out something as low-key as a kiss on the cheek. I just can’t get that accounting right in my head.

  2. The Middle East is a fascinating place. It is the land where you are allowed to watch a public execution but not a public emotional display.

  3. Reminds me of the collection of magazines we had at home. My father is an avid photographer and a cinephile. Almost all of the issues of “Films & Filming”, “Amateur Photographer”, “Film Review”, “Empire”, “Practical Photography” and many more have at least a page “decorated” with magic markings. Yet, I have to say that the Qataris seem to devote more time to covering as much of a picture as possible, going over the same area more than once to ensure full coverage. It may have to do with budget limitations in a poor country like Jordan where a censor is forced to live off one Sharpie for an entire fiscal year. This forces him to cover as little as possible of only the most sensitive parts, more like a porn popup ad with stars strategically positioned over certain areas =)

  4. Hubby’s comment “…still not able to compute how action movies will show heads blown off and guts pouring out but will cut out something as low-key as a kiss on the cheek” was cleverly dealt with in a witty scene in South Park-episode 801.
    The kids are playing with Japanese-style weapons and pretending to be anime characters when Butters’s eye is hit with a ninja star. Fearing repercussion, Eric Cartman tries to use his “power of invisibility” to get past the parents undetected. He takes off his clothes and walks bare naked on an auction stage but of course everybody see him. Word about the weapons and Butters’s injury reaches out to the parent and the rest of the town. The community holds an emergency meeting to discuss the “issue” and everybody expresses how appalled they are with what happened. Slowly you realize that the outrage is about fourth grader Cartman appearing naked in public and not about kids playing with real swords and ninja stars. Kyle says “Dude, they don’t care we knocked Butters’ eye out with weapons?” and Stan replies “Yeah. I guess parents don’t give a crap about violence if there are sex things to worry about.”
    Sorry about the long comment; just my 2 cents.

  5. Well said Jameed. This is exactly what is happening in this part of the world. I’m not sure if you have ever watched the Dubai-based English Channel “MBC2”.
    They run a variety of old and new Western movies, but they make sure to edit out all the kisses and any other “immoral” scenes. Nevertheless, they keep all the bloody and violent scenes.
    Frankly speaking, I would rather see my kids watch kissing than killing!

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