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Hypocrisy in Western criticism of Qatar World Cup

by Zahid Jadwat

While the Qatar World Cup gets underway, Doha has been on the receiving end of unrelenting criticism for its human rights track record, which some say laid bare the hypocrisy within Western criticism. One of the most controversial FIFA tournaments in history left soccer fans and ordinary individuals divided.

Western countries, including England, have criticised the Middle Eastern country of some three million for a nonexistence of LGBTQIA+ rights and the deaths of 37 workers directly linked to construction of Qatar’s World Cup infrastructure, as well as thousands indirectly linked. Fans from several European countries, such as France, Spain and Germany, kicked off the Boycott Qatar 2022 movement several weeks ahead of the opening match.

The BBC, for its part, shunned the glamorous opening ceremony on Sunday (November 20). Presenter Gary Lineker opened the coverage of the tournament on BBC One with a monologue about the human rights issues in the host nation. The public broadcaster’s principal coverage focussed on how Qatar was awarded the World Cup and the country’s treatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQIA+ community.


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While many in the West believed it was necessary to boycott the Qatar World Cup, others found it hypocritical. Such was the sentiment of social media user @islammc_, who took to TikTok to vent his annoyance.

“These Westerners are just virtue-signalling. They are just hiding their Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiments behind human rights. Human rights only appeal to them when it’s necessary for them to show their superiority complex,” he said in a short video.

“The latest human rights abuser that was allowed to host the [Olympic Games] was England in 2012,” said independent journalist Alameen Templeton, hinting at the 2003 invasion of Iraq. “I don’t recall anyone in the mainstream media complaining about a million dead Iraqis”.

Templeton suggested a catalogue of countries with poor human rights track records be compiled and that they should be barred from hosting future tournaments.

“Perhaps we should be taking advantage of this opportunity to say, ‘okay, from now on these countries will be forbidden from hosting the World Cup because of human rights abuses’ and get a list of of banned countries and get it all out and insist as Muslims that this is how we
must do it,” he said.


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Meanwhile, Saber Ahmed Jazbhay said he was boycotting the Qatar World Cup for “ethical reasons”. He argued that acknowledging and taking a stand against the human rights abuses which are said to be happening in Qatar was his duty as a Muslim.

“I’m not watching the World Cup for ethical reasons; because of the human rights violations that are taking place in Qatar. What is behind the scenes is what we don’t see and that is what’s happening at this point in time. People are really suffering [and] we need to expose it,” he said.

Addressing claims of hypocrisy on the part of Westerners, Jazbhay said their stance was justifiable since those nations only awoke to ethics with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He said people’s eyes opened to human rights after a period of immense racism.

He said it was especially important that Qatar upheld human rights since it was representing the Muslim world during the World Cup.

“As a Muslim, it is my right to comment about violations that go against the very tenets of the Quran. Qatar stands as a representation of Muslims and therefore we’ve got to be
critical of the fact that we do not condone what is happening in this Muslim country,” he said.

Jazbhay maintained that, while it was his right as a Muslim to condemn the Qataris, “people living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

“Therefore,” he said, “the Australians, the English, the Germans [and] the Italians have no right to criticise Qatar, but Muslims, being blessed with the knowledge that we have, have the right to tell our fellow Muslim Brothers in Qatar or wherever they are ‘the world is watching… behave yourself.’”

He said with the world’s gaze on the World Cup, Doha had a sterling opportunity to present Islam in a positive light, which he admitted they had been doing.

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