We’re students, you know. We’re being told to push the limits, to define the new boundaries. They tell us, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission. So they do encourage this but they’re not ready for the outcome.

Usama Hamed, a Northwestern University in Qatar journalism student, in an article in the Northwestern Chronicle about NUQ’s ability to protect its students as they push for media freedom here.


Hamed, who was arrested last year for taking photographs at Villaggio Mall following a fatal fire that killed 19 people, was jailed for 10 days in Qatar after police accused him of being a Syrian spy, among other things.

He told the Chronicle that when he turned to NU-Q for help, Director of Student Affairs Greg Bergida rebuffed him:

“When I asked them about the possibility of helping me out, of talking to someone at the Qatar Foundation, or doing something with lawyers or with anything, I was told – I’m gonna quote this to you – ‘Northwestern University does not help or support criminals.’”

…“They said what I was doing wasn’t approved by any professor, so they don’t support that either. It wasn’t a class,” Hamed says.

Bergida told the Chronicle he could not comment on the matter because it entailed “a pending legal matter that does not involve the university.”

Previously, other NU-Q students have complained about facing a mountain of obstacles while trying to report in Qatar.


Credit: Photo by Omar Chatriwala

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