Back at the beginning of June, I wrote that:
For reasons which are nothing whatsoever to do with censorship in the Middle East or as a result of pressure from the authorities, this blog will no longer be commenting on political events in the Middle East.
I am now in a position to explain that choice. Somebody at work had decided that my views on the Middle East were detrimental to client relations, and as such they should stop. He considered them to be offensive to Arabs, although I had never received any complaint to this effect, and nor had the company. The person in question was not an Arab, nor was he from the Middle East, and nor was he anything whatsoever to do with our Middle East business. But nonetheless, he decided there was a problem and called my boss.
My boss handled it very well. He had a look at the site for himself, could not find anything offensive, and did nothing. Which should have been the end of it, but the chap who originally made the complaint (and who is not senior to my boss, by the way) decided this was not acceptable and complained to my boss’ boss, who told my boss to do something about it before it reaches head office. So my boss called me in and told me the story (up to this point, I was completely unaware of what was going on), and explicitly said that he was not ordering me to stop writing, but advised that if I don’t make some kind of gesture then somebody in head office is likely to give me the choice of shutting down the site or get fired. Of course, I could fight my corner by saying they are personal views, not representative of the company, I never mention the company name, and besides they are not anyway offensive; but I had to consider whether this was a course of action I really wanted to take, and after a moment’s thought decided it was better to make the compromise of agreeing not to write about Middle East politics again. And that was the end of the matter.
But that was then. Today is my last day with the company, having spent over 5 years working for them in the UK, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, and Korea, and therefore the restrictions on my writing can now be lifted. I am not sure whether I will continue to write on the Middle East in the same way, but I will be addressing various issues at some point in the future. I leave the company on a positive note and on good terms with almost everybody, but I feel I must make the public statement that the chap who complained about my website in the first place can go fuck himself.