Al Sharq editor-in-chief resigns over tweet perceived to be a Saudi snub

Jaber Al Harmi

Jaber Al Harmi/Facebook

Jaber Al Harmi

Longtime Qatari journalist Jaber Al-Harmi has left Al Sharq for “personal reasons,” the newspaper has announced.

It did not elaborate, but Gulf media outlets attributed a recent tweet as the reason for the former editor-in-chief’s exit.

Following last week’s passage of a new HR law in Qatar, Al-Harmi posted praise for the legislation, saying (as translated into English):

“While some countries have decreased their citizens’ salaries, Qatar announces that salaries for its citizens are going up. This is by the grace of God and because we are blessed with a wise leadership that puts the country’s resources at the service of its citizens and for their benefit.”

The post immediately drew rebukes from Saudi citizens, who saw it as a snub to their recent austerity measures.

Al-Harmi deleted the tweet after trying to explain that he did not mean to offend anyone, but the damage appeared to already have been done.

Mounting criticism

This is the second time Al-Harmi has resigned from Al Sharq in a little over a year.

In June 2015, he tendered his resignation after the newspaper unintentionally published a sexually explicit photo alongside a story about henna tattoos.

However, at the time, his supporters refused to accept his exit, and he stayed on.

This time however, many people are lauding his departure. On Twitter, some in Qatar said:

Translation: This fuss around Jaber Al-Harmi has caused us a headache. We couldn’t stay silent after he insulted the Big Sister, Saudi. His resignation came rather late.

Translation: Hopefully, Al-Sharq will now be better than it was (under Al-Harmi’s leadership). Thanks for all your efforts, but the newspaper deserves younger cadres for renewal and improvement. We wish him luck.

Elsewhere in the region, others also chimed in, saying:

Translation: Shame on you for insulting us and making fun of us. Our budget shrunk because of the war and our support of our siblings in Yemen. And we’re content with that, we don’t care much about the money.

‘Bullying’

However, Al-Harmi also received an outpouring of support this week following his 25-year-career in journalism.

Speaking to Doha News, one supporter said the entire incident appeared to have snowballed because “trolling and bullying is an epidemic here.”

Others on Twitter said:

Translation: And the moral of the story is: Each person has to pay careful attention to what they say as their own words can become a snake that bites them.

Translation: Al-Harmi is a great media trainer and consultant for generations to come. He’s a media school in and as of himself. Sir, you can now lend your expertise to different areas. You’ve only resigned from Al Sharq, not from all media.

Translation: His is a patriotic, clean and honorable pen. He’s always defended his country and religion.

Al-Harmi has not responded to requests for comment, but did thank those who stood behind him.

In a series of his tweets, he added:

“The ways of serving our homeland and Arab nation are endless. We’re all soldiers trying to help in our different fields.

Throughout my career in journalism from 1990-2016, people either supported me through encouraging and advising me to better my work or through their critiques and I have benefitted from both sides. So thank you.”

Thoughts?

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