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Breaking the silence

Photo by Omar Chatriwala/Flickr

It’s been six months since I officially said farewell to Doha News. After nine years of devouring all information related to Qatar, reporting on and editing stories that affect the community and people’s lives, it was over.

And I could breathe again.

I no longer had to stress out about what to publish on the site each day. I no longer had to stay up late, wake up in the middle of the night, sacrifice my health, weekends and time with my family and friends to keep DN going. 
 
Gone also was the stress of worrying about the police showing up at my door one morning, to take me away from my kids. And I didn’t need to fret anymore about whether my colleagues would be punished for pushing for the accountability and transparency government officials insist they want.

Mixed emotions

Still, the sharp edge of censorship hangs in the air. I feel relief, yes. But I also feel pain.

True, the unrelenting workload is gone. But so is the opportunity to keep people in Qatar informed about current events in the country they live in. News that they care about I mean — layoffs, crime, special events, extraordinary people — not the fluff that the newspapers dutifully publish each day.

The pain sometimes flares into anger, like when I hear that some Qatar companies haven’t paid their employees for months, leaving them little recourse but to leave the country. Doha News would have shined a spotlight on such bad behavior, ideally affecting change.

And sometimes I feel something more akin to grief, like when Qatar announced it would provide free cancer treatment to all residents. Doha News would have loved to cover that story. Perhaps our report would have helped spread that information around the world.

Silent no more

Processing all of my DN-related emotions has taken time, and I’ve been mainly silent about Qatar in the interim. I no longer read Doha-based newspapers, and I’ve unfollowed most Qatar institutions on social media.

Still, Doha was my adopted home for 10 years, almost a third of my life. It’s where my husband and I started married life together and where our three children were born.

That we were basically kicked out of the country hurts. I don’t say this to be pitied, but rather to explain my silence.

Photo by Omar Chatriwala/Flickr

But now, I’m tired of being mute.

There are a lot of ideas rolling around in my head about the next chapter of my life. As a journalist, I intend to keep sharing useful news and information with my community, with folks in Detroit and Doha and DC, and everywhere else I’ve been.

If you’re interested in a global perspective, some honest introspection, a little humor and some talk about chocolate, please keep tuning in. It’s time for me to break the silence.

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