PR Firm Hired By Qatar Is Most Definitely Not Charlie

The writer exposes the amorality of public relations agencies.

Ronn Torossian

OpEds Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian

Consider the breathtaking historic rally Sunday where 40 world leaders, walked arm in arm through the streets of Paris to rally for freedom, and to honor the 17 victims of recent terror attacks in France.

Are we really all Charlie?
While French President Francois Hollande proclaimed “Today, Paris is the capital of the world” he was surrounded by leaders including Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, King Abdullah of Jordan and others. 

They stood against radical Islam and the world proclaimed “We Are Charlie.”

Meanwhile, just this week, a leading American Public Relations Agency, Levick Communications, was hired by the Embassy of Qatar to “bolster their relationships with the United States and non-profit organizations” according to FARA filings recorded with the federal government.  The six-month engagement will net the Washington, DC firm $88,500 per month for six months – for work including strategy, research and opinion leader work.

And who is their new client? The State of Qatar funds Hamas, one of the world’s leading terror organizations. Qatar is at odds with some of their Arab neighbors for their continued outspoken support of Muslim Brotherhood (although they deny support for ISIS.)  Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have all recalled their ambassadors from Qatar to protest its support of terror organizations.

Moreover, the nations is ruled, in part, by Sharia law, and in 2013, Qatar joined a coalition of other countries in vowing to administer a “homosexual test” to visitors, in an effort to restrict gays’ entrance to the country. In certain areas of the nation’s court, a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s – and in some cases women witnesses are not permitted.

As pictures of protestors defending journalists and freedom run in newspapers worldwide, perhaps their new PR Agency can spin how their new client imprisons people for free speech. Qatari poet Mohammed al-Ajami was sentenced to 15 years in prison for writing a poem against the country’s emir. Are we really all Charlie?

And Levick is not alone - Qatar also hired a European PR Agency, Portland Communications, which is chaired by Tim Allan, a former adviser to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.  

Qatar has Sharia law, discrimination against gays and women, and is home to the spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, as well as Hamas leader Khaled Mashal.”

Hypocrisy at its finest from my peers at public relations agencies

Ronn Torossian is founder of one of the 25 largest American PR Agencies, and author of “For Immediate Release.”