I am struggling to understand the discrepancy between the democratic, secular and liberal worldview that is, implicitly or explicitly, presented in Al Jazeera English news coverage, and the actual domestic policy of Qatar, which is anything but democratic, secular or liberal.

I do understand that Al Jazeera English is supposed to be Qatar's "soft power", and that it targets international audience. A possible interpretation, for example, is that the Qatari authorities don't actually support democracy at all, and the support given by Al Jazeera to pro-democratic movements in the Middle East is solely meant as a means to support Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

However, why is Al Jazeera sympathetic or at least neutral towards LGBT issues? On the one hand, the view presented by Al Jazeera is much more liberal than the views presented by a lot of American/European conservative media. On the other hand, the domestic policy in Qatar is much more anti-LGBT than anywhere in Europe and the US. The world's strictest anti-LGBT laws are based on Islamic laws, so tolerance towards LGBT people doesn't seem to go well with the aims of the Muslim Brotherhood and other similar Islamist organisations supported by Qatar.

Of course, one could say that despite the clear links between the media group and the ruling family, Al Jazeera's position on LGBT issues is a matter of opinions of individual journalists, and is simply an expression of Qatar's freedom of the media. The problem with this explanation is that there is no freedom of the media in Qatar, even for English-language media outlets, such as Doha News.

To sum up, the Qatari authorities seem to be OK with their "soft power" media channel presenting a view of LGBT that contradicts the Qatari law, the mainstream interpretation of the Sharia law and values represented by Islamist groups supported by Qatar, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Why is that so?

  • 2
    Are we talking about Al Jazeera English or Al Jazeera Arabic (or possibly other languages) or both? The two have different coverage and target difference audiences, and it wouldn't be surprising if they differed in their coverage of LBGT issues.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 18:55
  • In the text I'm referring and linking to Al Jazeera English. I don't speak Arabic, and I don't know how LGBT issues are presented in non-English versions.
    – kami
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 19:06
  • I don't know if you are being cynical from experience or not sure what you yourself are saying. What I mean is: shouldn't news organizations report the news and not have any political bias, I know, naïve! Commented May 14, 2019 at 18:03
  • @FrankCedeno I don't think they should, because it's impossible: even if we assume that they completely objectively report facts, they still need to decide which of the countless events in the world are worth reporting, and the choice is always biased by one's values.
    – kami
    Commented May 15, 2019 at 12:22
  • @FrankCedeno I can't see how western governments can be destablilised by the way Al Jazeera is currently reporting on LGBT issues. Would you mind explaining that in an answer?
    – kami
    Commented May 15, 2019 at 13:33

1 Answer 1


You have answered most of your own question. Al Jazeera is an olive branch to the respective cultures it serves in the name of improving Qatari relations with the rest of the world. It attempts to be seen as fair and balanced by its English and Arabic cultures respectively, which helps to sugarcoat its pro-Qatari propaganda.

So yes, Al Jazeera English is favorable towards standard social views in British society, just as Al Jazeera Arabic is favorable towards standard social views in moderate Sunni countries. It manages to avoid most criticism for this disconnect in large part because its non-Qatari coverage stands up to a higher level of journalistic integrity than all media in the Arab world and quite a bit of the English world.


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