Al Jazeera Banned in Saudi Arabia and 4 Other Bizarre Decisions in the Gulf-Qatar Crisis…

June 12, 2017 4:52 pm0 commentsViews: 9

Qatar-Saudi crisisOn June 5, GCC members Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, announced their decision to sever diplomatic relations with Qatar and install an air, land and sea blockade.

The announcements were only the first of a number of measures that were taken over the following week, most of which were issued in by the three governments, and some targeted their own citizens.

Here are a few of the most prominent – and strangest – of these decrees.

Breaking up families

The Saudi-led bloc issued orders of forced removals against their own nationals, as well as Qatari nationals.

Qatari residents of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain were given two weeks’ notice to leave and return to Qatar. Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini citizens residing in Qatar were told by their governments to return immediately or face serious consequences.

Thousands of individuals and families suffered under these orders, as the deep familial and interpersonal ties between GCC countries mean that there are a huge number of families where one spouse is Qatari and the other is a national of another GCC country.

These families were split up. Qatari mothers residing in Saudi, the UAE or Bahrain took the brunt of these decisions, since they were forced to leave their children, who only have their father’s citizenship, behind.

Criminalising sympathy

Sympathy for Qatar expressed by social media users across the GCC created a PR disaster for the countries who severed relations with their Gulf neighbour.

To stem the flow of negative reactions Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain took steps to curb their citizens from expressing opinions that opposed their policies.

The UAE Attorney General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi announced that any objections to the UAE’s strict measures against the government of Qatar or expression of sympathy with Qatar would be a crime punishable by a prison sentence of 3-15 years and a fine of no less than $136,000 (500,000AED), whether on a social media platform or via any written or spoken medium.

Shamsi added that the UAE had taken decisive action against Qatar as a result of “its hostile and irresponsible policy against the UAE and a number of Gulf and Arab states”. He noted that these infractions would be prosecuted in accordance with cybercrime laws because they were deemed to be harmful to the nation’s higher interests and social stability.

Shamsi stated that the general prosecutor’s office would be implementing the law on offenders who were guilty of what he called “crimes”. He stressed that this decision was taken to preserve the national security of the UAE and its higher interests and the interests of its people.

The criminalisation of sympathy with Qatar was implemented in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain with slight differences in the length of prison sentences and size of fines.

The Bahraini Ministry of Interior stated “any expression of sympathy with the government of Qatar or opposition to the measures taken by the government of Bahrain, whether through social media, Twitter or any other form of communication, is a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine”.

Banning Al Jazeera and blocking websites

Hotel residents in Saudi Arabia can no longer watch Al Jazeera channels, after the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage warned against airing Al Jazeera inside any hotel or tourist establishment.

The commission stressed that all channels belonging to the Al Jazeera Media Network are to be removed from the list of satellite stations in “all hotel rooms and touristic facilities and furnished residential units.

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