‘We’re scared:’ Former Qatari justice minister says of living in Doha

A former Qatari Minister of Justice said that people live in fear of persecution from Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. (File/AFP)
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Updated 14 February 2020

‘We’re scared:’ Former Qatari justice minister says of living in Doha

A former Qatari justice minister said people live in fear of persecution from Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, in a report published by The Economist on Thursday.

“We’re scared,” said Najeeb Nuaimi who has been under a travel ban since 2017, in the article that looked at the Gulf state’s silencing of critics.

“They’ll take your passport or your property and leave you stateless if you talk,” he explained. 

The report comes in light of the Emir’s recent decree that threatened five years’ imprisonment or a fine of $27,000 for “anyone who broadcasts, publishes or republishes false or biased rumours, statements or news…with the intent to harm national interests, stir up public opinion or infringe on the social system”.

The Economist also questioned media’s freedom of speech, in particular Al-Jazeera, and quoted a media-watcher in the emirate, saying: “(Al-Jazeera) is free to criticise other countries but never to criticise Qatar.” The report goes on to say that the state-funded channel keeps quiet about Qatari women who fleeing the country, seeking asylum in Britain. 


Iran warns of lengthy ‘new way of life’ as virus deaths rise

An Iranian army soldier walks through a temporary hospital in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP)
Updated 30 March 2020

Iran warns of lengthy ‘new way of life’ as virus deaths rise

  • Without an official lockdown in place, the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay home “as much as possible”

TEHRAN: President Hassan Rouhani has warned that “the new way of life” in Iran was likely to be prolonged, as its declared death toll from the novel coronavirus rose to 2,640.
Iran is one of the countries worst-hit by the virus, which first originated in China.
Iran announced its first infection cases on Feb. 19, but a senior health official has acknowledged that the virus was likely to have already reached Iran in January.
At his daily news briefing, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 123 more people in Iran had died from the virus in the past 24 hours.
He reported 2,901 new cases of COVID-19 infection, bringing the overall number of officially confirmed cases to 38,309.
According to the official, 12,391 of those hospitalized have recovered and 3,467 are in “critical” condition.
“We must prepare to live with this virus until a treatment or vaccine is discovered, which has not yet happened to date,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a Cabinet meeting.
“The new way of life we have adopted” is to everyone’s benefit, he said, adding that “these changes will likely have to stay in place for some time.”
After weeks of refraining from imposing lockdown or quarantine measures, Tehran decided Wednesday to ban all intercity travel until at least April 8.
Without an official lockdown in place, the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay home “as much as possible.” Schools and universities in some provinces were closed in late February and the measure was later extended to the whole country.
After Rouhani’s warning, the reopening of schools following this year’s new year holidays of March 19 to April 3 appears unlikely.

FASTFACT

Iran announced its first infection cases on Feb. 19, but a senior health official has acknowledged that the virus was likely to have already reached Iran in January

On a positive note, Rouhani said he had been told by top health experts and doctors that “in some provinces we have passed the peak (of the epidemic) and are on a downward trajectory.”
Several Iranian government officials and notable figures have been infected by the new coronavirus, some of whom have died.
The most recent case of infection was Mohammed-Reza Khatami, brother of former president Mohammad Khatami and an ex-deputy speaker of parliament.
He is currently hospitalized.
Iraj Harirchi, a deputy health minister who tested positive for the virus in late February, has returned to public life and appeared on state television to emphasize safety precautions.