(Image for illustrative purposes only. Photo credit: iStock by Getty Images)
An event called the Qatar Global Security & Stability Conference, to be held this month in London on September 14, has been making the rounds on social media. Organized by a group calling itself Qatar Affairs, the conference is aimed at ‘bringing together policy-makers, thinkers, academics, journalists, and exiled Qatari citizens envisioning a true approach to democracy, human rights, press freedom, and counter-terrorism in Qatar.’ The thing is, despite the branding and wording, it’s not an officially-organized Qatari event.
Its website also states that the premise for the conference came from exiled Qatari businessman Khalid al-Hail, claimed to be a former associate of H.E. Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, Qatar’s former Prime Minister. However, confirmation of al-Hail’s identity as his associate is suspect. Our emails to concerned parties came up with nothing to support any ties to this person or his claim of being close to His Excellency the former Prime Minister. Top hits for the name 'Khalid al-Hail' in a simple Google search are all linked to UAE, Egyptian, and Israeli news sources only.
The description on the site also goes on to say that al-Hail has received financial backing for the conference from Conservative MP, Daniel Kawcynszki. However, we can find no official confirmation of such support on any credible news site.
Speaking with an unnamed official source here in Qatar, ILoveQatar.net has received exclusive confirmation that the UAE government is the primary agent behind the orchestration of the Qatar Global Security & Stability Conference as an anti-Qatar propaganda tool – and that no such accredited entity entitled Qatar Affairs exists in Qatar.
This is just one example of many kinds of fake news or events that have been circulating about Qatar recently – the latest being allegations during a Dubai News broadcast of checkpoints, tear gas, and the Turkish Army brought in to quell uprisings in Qatar.
Besides the obvious anti-Qatar rhetoric on its web-page there were several other red flags that had us scratching our heads. This is by no means a comprehensive list – but it is a starting point for things to keep in mind to help you identify and call out fake news.
There are numerous spelling errors on the site.
While we understand that mistakes do happen, when there’s more than one, alarm bells should start ringing. Especially if it’s an English-speaking event, claiming to be hosted and organized in an English-speaking country such as the UK in the case of this conference. No credible news outlet or government site would forgo a basic spell-check or copy-edits.
Download links to ‘credible’-looking reports or research documents.
On the Qatar Affairs site there was a PDF download link to a report entitledQatar Crisis: End States Report. The first red flag was the title – inflammatory and click-bait without actually stating what the report means. The second red flag, once reading the report, was the very amateur way in which it was structured and laid out, without a single link or footnote to a credible source.
They’re vetting who can come.
There’s a disclaimer on the ‘Registration’ page that states ‘Please be advised that entry to the conference is at the discretion of Qatar Affairs. We reserve the right to refuse entry to the conference to any individual or organisation without the need for recourse. As part of your registration, we will retain your details so that we can keep you updated on this event in future.' So in other words – if they think you’re there to make trouble or ask questions that might expose them they’ll kick you out but keep your personal details for future reference.
There's no specific location for the conference
While a registration link does exist on the site, and leads you to an online form to fill out, there's no mention of an exact location in London for the conference. This should be red flag number one that something fishy is going on. London is a fairly big city, and there's no specific location nailed down or publicized with the event just two weeks away.
Language on social media.
You can tell a lot about the agenda an individual or group is trying to push by what kinds of hashtags they’re using or trying to get trending. Qatar Affairs is pushing this conference under the hashtags #QatarRescue and #TheQatariOpposition. They also have a hashtag #LondonSep14.
We hope this article has been informative in helping you identify and combat fake news. It’s up to us as a community to speak out and be the light for truth as we stand with Qatar.
What are your thoughts on this alleged ‘conference’? Drop us a line and tell us your thoughts in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to share this article!
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