Though George Orwell’s 1984 may seem shockingly unrealistic, sadly enough, the inhumane treatment and violations of human rights found in the novel occur today around the world, such as in Qatar.
Qatar is located next to the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia. The capital is Doha. According to Lewis and Skutch, Qatar occupies 4,412 square miles that contains petroleum and natural gas, which is the country’s main source of income. As of 1999, Qatar’s population was around 720,000. The primary language is Arabic but English is also widely spoken. Qatar is led by the Al-Thani family and lacks a legislature. The adult males of the family pick the emir, whom is the leader and prime minister. The emir appoints members of the executive Council of Ministers. The emir holds complete power, but is kept in check by religious laws, consulting with leading citizens, rule by a consensus, and any citizen being able to ask the emir to appeal government decisions.
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Qatar is known for its lack of religious freedom. As told in the Qatar 2017 International Religious Freedom Report, the emir of Qatar has to be Muslim. Along with that, apostasy- converting from Islam to another religion- is strictly prohibited and is illegal. Even if a non-Muslim woman has a child with a Muslim man, the child is required, by law, to be raised Muslim. The Qatari government strongly supports the Islamic religion and frowns upon most other religions. An example of this can be seen by a law to makes different religions first register through the government in order to obtain a place of public worship, though most of these religions remain private. The government is stubborn in the types of religions it will allow or support.
The exclusive religion in Oceania is represented by Big Brother. This is made known, as all citizens are required to obey the rules given by Big Brother, who is their leader. Anyone thought to be conspiring against Big Brother is to be found and punished. Children are raised to follow Big Brother and even spy for him. There are no other religions, and any other suspected religions are to be compromised. The government in Oceania required that all citizens must follow Big Brother and obey his every command. Big Brother is the only religion that the government will allow in order to keep unity and control over the citizens of Oceania.
Censorship is used to eliminate disruptive or derogatory material that the government would like to keep secret. This is seen in Qatar as, starting in 2006, Qatar’s internet provider, Qtel, started to block websites that include political criticism of Gulf leaders, anti-Islamic themes, or pornography. In addition, several online chatting sites are also being blocked, as they serve a threat to the telephone business, which Qtel also runs. The manager of Qtel says that the company blocks these cites to, Maintain ethical standards and protect the culture of the society. The websites display a message reading, The webpage you are trying to access has been blocked by the internet of Qatar as it contains materials which are prohibited in the state of Qatar. The Internet in Qatar is kept under control by Qtel in order to maintain a good image for Qatar.
All other sources of media are also closely watched in Qatar. For example, Journalists can be prosecuted for criticizing Qatar’s government, its ruling family, or the Islamic religion. Qatar practices self- censorship in order to avoid prosecution. For instance, when there was a report about the poor treatment and conditions of immigrant workers, most of the media outlets did not cover the story except for the company Doha News, which was soon blocked in Qatar. The Qatari government enjoys keeping negative information a secret and promoting positive information.
Oceania suffers extreme levels of censorship in all forms. The main reason for censorship is told by the motto, Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past, (). Censorship is strongly enforced by the government of Oceania. For example, the Ministry of Truth alters historical records in order to manipulate the population into thinking only good things about the government. In addition, the Ministry of Truth only allows news to get out that positively portrays Big Brother. The Ministry of Truth does whatever it takes to feed the citizens of Oceania false information rather than allowing them to see the ugly truth.
Big Brother is always watching, because telescreens and spies are everywhere enforcing censorship. Citizens even have to censor their own thoughts in fear of commiting a thoughtcrime. Speaking or thinking of rebelling against Big Brother, contradicting the government, or wanting independence results in punishment. This can be told by Winston, when he writes, Thoughtcrime does not entail death; thoughtcrime is death (Orwell 28). Censorship has escalated to a new level in Oceania, and allowed the government to control all aspects of the populations perspective on Big Brother.
Discrimination can range from unequal payment for women to poor treatment of immigrants. For example, Qatari women who marry a non-Qatari spouse are not able to pass Qatari citizenship down to their children, while Qatari men can. In addition, Women will generally inherit half of what their male counterparts would. Qatari men are able to divorce their wife for any reason, while the wife is only allowed to file for divorce for a specified reason. Women are far from having the same rights and privileges of men in Qatar and struggle to compete against men in legal activities.
Qatar generally treats migrant workers with little respect. This is seen as less than ten percent of Qatar’s population-2.1 million- are nationals of Qatar. Many migrant workers have complained that their employers have paid them late or not paid them at all. Employers are also able to prevent migrant workers from leaving Qatar to visit their home country. Migrant workers have fallen captive to Qatari employers.
Oceania has little to no gender discrimination. Men and women work as equals. Men and women are not allowed to look at the other gender in a sexual manner. Winston and Julia have relations to rebel against Big Brother and get punished for this crime, along with others. Gender discrimination is nearly non existent due to the government equal view men and women.
Oceania’s government treats the Proles as if they are not a part of society. 85 percent of Oceania’s population is made up of Proles. The Proles live in poverty because they are ignored by the government. Because of this, the Proles are actually granted more freedoms such as gambling, religious worship, and divorce. The government discriminates against the Proles because they are seen as ignorant, unintelligent, and weak.
Some governments fear assembly because a revolution could spark from the ideas expressed at an assembly. Due to this, Qatar does not allow political parties and elections only occur for the advisory municipal council. Private societies are required to register with the government before being allowed to meet Membership in international organizations that are critical of any type of Arab government is unlawful. Qatar’s strict laws against assembly result in few societies and groups legally being able to meet in one place.
Oceania’s government does not usually allow communication with others, nevermind communication between large groups. This leads to a secret society, as told by Winston when he says, He was the commander of a vast shadow army, an underground network of conspirators dedicated to the overthrow of the State (Orwell 13). Oceania’s government does not allow assembly, especially without surveillance, in fear of rebellion. The government is afraid of large groups because there are several conspirators that they have yet to catch who could influence others.
Some governments use torture as intimidation in order to get information they need, hide information, or punish enemies. Qatar’s constitution and laws prohibit torturous practices. Despite this, there have been a few reports of abuse carried out by government officials. Authorities have kept few detainees in solitary confinement while in Qatar’s prison. The Qatari government typically frowns upon torture.
Qatar also has called for minor types of torture under fairly specific circumstances. The government does allow corporal punishment for certain criminal offenses. An example of corporal punishment allowed is flogging, which is court-ordered in cases involving alcohol consumption and extramarital sex by Muslims. However, corporal punishment in the form of amputation is strictly prohibited under the Islamic law. Qatar does not endorse torture, but has recorded few instances in which minor levels of torturing occurred.
Oceania’s government uses severe methods of torturing and brainwashing in order to eliminate rebellious thoughts. The Ministry of Love is responsible for all of Oceania’s police and torture related actions. For example, Room 101 is a torture chamber in the Ministry of Love. Whoever is in Room 101 faces their worst fear, typically rendering them defenseless and utterly afraid. Room 101 is considered to be the most relentless and unforgiving form of punishment in the Ministry of Love.
Other forms of physical abuse takes place in order to make the victim confess to anything and everything. Some examples of other ways the victim is tortured include starvation, psychological degradation, and attempted brainwashing. The victim can also experience frequent drug injections that can lower their pain tolerance or even knock them out. The victim often fails to recognize themselves in the mirror, as they have been so malnourished and mistreated that their body only slightly resembles what it used to look like. The Ministry of Love uses cruel and inhumane torture methods which allows them to get whatever they want.
Children in Qatar are treated differently than adults because they are more easily manipulated or controlled. For instance, children in Qatar get their education for free between the aged of six and fourteen. This is because school is not required by law, leading to low education rates. In addition, corporal punishment is not able to be a response towards the actions of a minor. Children in Qatar habe quality privileges, but there are soft laws or rules in place to help these children get the most out of their privileges.
Even Qatari children face some discrimination. For example, the minimum age that boys can get married is 18, while the minimum age for girls is 19. Young girls face the risk of domestic violence, especially if in an arranged marriage. On the contrary, children with disabilities are being treated better, having improved living conditions and developing structures to accomodate for their specific needs. In general, Qatar’s children are treated fairly respectably, only having minor problems to deal with.
Children in Oceania are manipulated and even turned against their own parents. This is because children are trained to be spies. The children are to report any unusual activities or conversations that could be rebellious or detrimental to Big Brother. As Winston explains, It was a device by means of which everyone could be surrounded night and day by informers who knew him intimately (Orwell 133). The children in Oceania often mistreat the adults, rather the the other way around.
Some adults are afraid they could accidentally say something in their sleep and be overhead by their own child. This is because children are awarded with public acknowledgement if they turn in their parents. Turning in a parent gives the child an honor from the government as a hero who protected their nation. Often times, these children will turn in their parents for any slight slip up in order to receive recognition. The constant thought of being recognized as a hero keeps the children alert, ready to turn in their parents.
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