LETTER FROM THE MIDDLE EAST
In the Gulf monarchies, it is not common to find an immigrant worker with the temper of an Albert London. Malcolm Bidali, a 28-year-old Kenyan employee of a private security company in Qatar, was this rare bird. Outside of his on-call hours, the young man published articles on the Internet under a pseudonym criticizing the living conditions of the little hands of the Qatari miracle: the two million Asians and Africans who toil in the engine room of the opulent city-state and are preparing it for the big day, the opening of the FIFA World Cup, in December of next year.
But the self-taught editor who, like London, tutelary figure for reporters, wore “The feather in the wound”, risk of not writing any more, at least on Qatar. Arrested on May 4 by local authorities, who accuse him of obscure “Violations of security laws and regulations”, he has not reappeared since. Large human rights NGOs, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, fear a reprisal measure intended to silence an employee who is a little too restless.
“If Malcolm is detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, he must be released immediately and unconditionally”, write these organizations in a press release released on May 13. Otherwise, they urge the Qatari authorities to make public the facts alleged against him and to ensure a proper trial.
It was in 2016 that Malcolm arrived for the first time in Qatar. Until then, the young Kenyan had led the life of a chair stick. Driven from the family home, he survived on odd jobs, the sleeve and “Things of which [il n’était] definitely not proud ”, he writes in one of his texts, signed with the name Noah, on the website of the NGO Migrant-Rights. “Three dollars a day was a good day, but those kinds of days didn’t come often. “ When a neighbor from the United Arab Emirates promises him a job in the Gulf, he sees the opportunity to get out of this ” black hole “.
A visit to a recruitment agency that makes him from scratch a security agent CV, a job interview in which he demonstrates ” a lot of imagination “ and there he is on a plane to Doha. His first experience, rounds on the Corniche du Pearl, an ultra-luxurious marina, leaves him fond memories. The salary is miserable (1,300 rials, or 300 dollars for 8 hours a day and 6 days a week) but within the standards of the Gulf, and it falls regularly, which allows him to eat his fill. He sleeps in one of the gigantic workers’ cities built by Qatar for the World Cup, in a spacious and clean room, with five colleagues. “A model housing”, he writes.
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