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June 27, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10040

Ahead Of FIFA World Cup In Qatar, Homophobic Incitement In Country Continues

June 27, 2022
Qatar | Special Dispatch No. 10040

Ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is scheduled to be held in Qatar this November, there has been widespread debate in the Western media regarding the holding of this tournament for the first time in a conservative Muslim country. Among the issues discussed is the concern that LGBT+ fans and players visiting the country for the games may encounter discrimination or hostility, given that homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.[1]

Ahead of the games, the Qatari regime has tried to present Qatar as a tolerant and open country that welcomes all visitors. In a recent press conference in Berlin, Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Aal Al-Thani said, in response to a question about his country's treatment of LGBT visitors during the games: " We welcome everybody, but also we expect and we want people to respect our culture.” [2]

However, in the last two years, homophobic discourse has been widely evident in the Qatari media.[3] Recently there were numerous examples of such discourse in the Qatari press and on social media, following the outbreak of the monkeypox virus (since a disproportionate number of cases has reportedly been identified among gay men), and following the incident of Muslim Senegalese football player Idrissa Gana Gueye. The latter, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), a team owned by a Qatari businessman,[4] refused to wear a shirt featuring the rainbow symbol as part of a campaign initiated by the French Football Federation,[5] causing the federation to take significant punitive measures against him. The incident sparked a widespread campaign of support for him in the Arab and Muslim world, including in Qatar.[6] Criticism was also voiced in the country against the Qatari telecommunications company Ooredoo, which sponsors PSG, for cooperating with this campaign.[7]  

Senior members of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), which is based in Doha and is supported by the Qatari regime, also issued statements condemning homosexuality and supporting the Senegalese player. One IUMS member even wrote that monkeypox is a divine message "warning us to return to the framework of human nature."

Solidarity with Gueye was also expressed in Qatari press articles, which described homosexuality as immoral and as opposed to reason, human nature and the directives of the three monotheistic religions. Qatari journalist Ibtisam Aal Sa'd, a columnist for the Al-Sharq daily, was especially conspicuous in her homophobic discourse, and even launched a Twitter hashtag calling to keep gays from coming to Qatar for the World Cup.   


PSG players wearing rainbow shirts as part of anti-homophobia campaign (Source:  Twitter.com/7amadalyafei, May 16, 2022)

This report presents some of the homophobic articles and posts circulated recently in the Qatari press and by Qataris on social media.

Qatari Emir: Qatar Will Welcome All World Cup Visitors, But Expects Them To Respect Its Culture

As stated, ahead of the games Qatar is trying to present itself as tolerant and welcoming, although it is a rigidly conservative country that criminalizes homosexuality. In a May 20 joint press conference with the German Chancellor in Berlin, Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Aal Al-Thani said, in response to a question about LGBT tourists who may come to Qatar for the games:  "Everybody is welcome in Doha. We do not stop anyone from coming to Doha with any different backgrounds, or any different beliefs. Qatar is a very welcoming country. We have millions of people that come and visit our country and the World Cup is a great opportunity for people from different parts of the world to come and experience our culture. We will not stop anybody from coming and enjoying the football. But I also want everybody to come and understand and enjoy our culture. We welcome everybody, but also we expect and we want people to respect our culture.”[8]

In her May 26 column in the Qatari daily Al-Arab, Maryam Yasin Al-Hamadi, head of the culture and arts bureau of Qatar's Ministry of Culture, supported these statements made by the Qatari Emir, writing: "In a statement expressing Qatar's national identity, the Qatari Emir… said that 'we expect and we want people to respect our culture.' This is a short but impressive statement, which, despite its brevity, conveys a great deal of meaning to people in Qatar and beyond, including about the thin line [separating] personal freedom from [infringement on] the rights of others and the obligation to respect them. 

"Each person may have his own culture and art, but someone else may reject some of all of this. So that person does not have to flaunt all these beliefs and behaviors in front of others. A thin line separates acceptable behaviors from unacceptable ones [when it comes to] respecting a society and its beliefs, ideas, customs and traditions… When one is a guest, it is polite to live by [the norms of the host] culture or at least to respect them…"[9]

International Union of Muslim Scholars: Societies That Are Determined To Maintain Their Purity Must Fight Perversion; Monkeypox Is A Warning From Allah

Despite these official Qatari statements, homophobic discourse continues to be heard in Qatar.  Many members of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, which is based in Qatar and is supported by the Qatari regime, issued statements against homosexuality and in support of footballer Idrissa Gana Gueye. These statements echoed similar pronouncement issued by other Islamic institutions around the Arab world, such as Al-Azhar.[10]

IUMS Director-General 'Ali Al-Qaradaghi tweeted as part of the campaign of support for Idrissa Gueye: "I applaud his honorable stance, which stems from values and morality. Principles are greater and nobler than [personal] interests, fame and the like…"[11]

Muhammad Al-Mukhtar Al-Shinqiti, an IUMS member and a lecturer at Qatar University, tweeted as part of the same campaign: "In Western societies the line between a man and a beast is becoming blurred. They seek to disseminate this bestiality among the rest of humanity by using sports to market grave transgressions that destroy people’s humanity. The Muslims are the last hope for saving mankind from these grave transgressions, and they must resolutely oppose this moral anarchy and nihilism."[12]

In an article he posted on May 21 on Al-Jazeera’s website, IUMS member Muhammad Saghir called homosexuality “abomination,” “corruption,” “debauchery” and “moral degeneracy.” He also drew a connection between homosexuality and various diseases, and stated that the monkeypox outbreak is a warning to humanity against accepting homosexuality. He wrote: “The Prophet [Muhammad] said that, after the stage in which abomination will appear and spread, those who practice [this] abomination will move on to the stage of declaring it openly and shamelessly. At the moment, we are quite simply at the stage of declaring it [openly] in every way and by every means of encouragement and enticement – so much so that flaunting homosexuality and the degradation of [human] nature have become part of every event and activity. The propagandists for this corruption and moral degeneracy have managed to tie this phenomenon to the spheres of sports and art, because they are the quickest way to reach the younger generation and destroy the future. We have seen how theatre and cinema make an effort to justify homosexuals as [normal] human beings and preach empathy towards these perverts. [Moreover], not a single sports event takes place without propaganda in favor of this debauchery… aimed at encouraging acceptance of what [even] beasts abhor…   

“In the usual satanic manner, the calls to accept this debauchery began gradually: [first] by showing empathy to men who, due to the disease of homosexuality, behave like women… Then came the stage of tolerance and acceptance, in the guise of freedoms that recognize no boundaries and ascribe no importance to norms and to the laws of religion. [Last] came the stage of preaching and practicing this abomination by force of law, and having the state grant it protection. This immorality came to a head when intimidation and coercion [began to be] used: Regression from innate [human] qualities became a legitimate and accepted global phenomenon, and anyone who opposed it faced punishment.

“We saw the French Football Federation punish the Senegalese player Idrissa, who plays for PSG, for refusing to wear the rainbow colors that the perverts have adopted as their symbol. It is ludicrous and amazing that the committee who investigated him is called the Ethics Committee!  This investigation evoked a great deal of anger against the French decision and a flood of sympathy for Idrissa, and the hashtag "We are all Idrissa" in Arabic and other languages went viral on social media. Sources that monitor [social media] noted that the number of tweets under this hashtag in both languages [Arabic and English] surpassed one million. This stresses [the extent of the] opposition to France's loathsome racism and to the policy of imposing debauchery, justifying moral degeneracy and legitimizing perversion. France spearheads this [policy] and has undertaken to glorify everything that is hostile to the Islamic shari'a and violates its morals or its principles…  

"Going back to the Prophet's abovementioned statement… it contains another prophetic pronouncement: 'plagues and diseases will appear among them that were not known before.' We have witnessed the truth of this in the global plagues and pandemics, and in the appearance of diseases linked specifically to forbidden sexual relations such as adultery or relations between two men or two women, among them syphilis, gonorrhea and AIDS, and now monkeypox… This [last] disease is a sign warning us to return to the framework of human nature, which includes the completeness and modesty of the family. Societies that are determined to be pure and to survive must fight this perversion, oppose the normalizing of homosexuality and establish councils and associations to fight it and defend the purity of mankind. They must not rely on their governments in this context, because the latter are connected to the global system that has chosen [this] abomination as a symbol to be celebrated in every forum... Mankind will incur a great and severe punishment if the flag of abomination is raised…"[13]

Qatari Journalist Launches Twitter Hashtag: "I Oppose Presence Of Gays At FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022"

Qatari journalist and influencer Ibtisam Aal Sa'd, who writes a column for the state daily Al-Sharq, posted numerous homophobic tweets, many of them in the context of the Idrissa Gueye affair and the monkeypox outbreak. In one of her tweets she even expressed concern that her account would be shut down due to her homophobic posts. [14]

On May 21 she launched the Twitter hashtag "I oppose the presence of homosexuals at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022”,[15] and wrote: "I have a right to freely express [my opposition to] what I regard as contrary to the shari'a, to morality, to values, to customs and to the tradition of society… Record your position using this hashtag. Maybe this will be to your credit on the day they say: 'Where were you during this whole [discussion about homosexuality]?"[16] Aal Sa'd also tweeted, "Why was there no commotion about homosexuality when the FIFA World Cup was held in Russia [in 2018], despite Putin's total opposition to any public display of it in his country? FIFA wants this [commotion] in Qatar for nefarious reasons, only because it's an Arab and Muslim Gulf country where homosexuality is punishable by up to five years in prison. On the popular level we are entitled to express our opposition to any [phenomenon] in the World Cup that is contrary to our religion or our natural inclinations."[17]

In another tweet she quoted the abovementioned statements made by the Qatari Emir at the press conference in Germany – namely that Qatar will welcome all visitors but expects them to respect its culture – and added: "Our culture, which is derived primarily from our religion, forbids us to accept sexual perversion and homosexuality and to present them as a natural human tendency. We expect the entire world to respect this culture [when visiting] Qatar."[18]

As part of the campaign of solidarity with the Senegalese football player, Aal Sa'd tweeted: "Idrissa Gueye [said], 'I signed a contract to play football in Paris Saint-Germain, not to promote homosexuality.' This response convinces reasonable people, but not those who encourage homosexuality, which is rejected by reason and by human nature and which the three monotheistic religions see as a crime. #WeAreAllIdrissaGana."[19]

Aal Sa'd also expressed her views on this matter in her column in the daily Al-Sharq, writing on May 22: "The day we threw away the masks and started breathing freely… the demon of a new plague, called monkeypox, appeared … European experts noted that the cases observed were of homosexuals, [people] who violate human nature and the values of the three monotheistic faiths, which regard sexual perversion of all types as a crime…  I am puzzled by the widespread discourse about so-called 'homosexuality'… especially after the incident of the Paris Saint-Germain's Muslim player, Idrissa Gana Gueye, who refused to wear a shirt expressing support for gay rights. This caused the French Football Federation's Ethics Committee – and don't ask me why it's called by this inappropriate name – to summon the player and ask him why he did not join his teammates in this act of supporting gay rights in France and beyond. Subsequently the world launched an unprecedented campaign of solidarity with this player, who chose to follow the directives of his religion, in which he believes, or his convictions as a decent man…

"There seems to be an aggressive [campaign] to market this sector and its right to equality and a natural life – even though its behavior is neither normal nor natural and it is the main cause for [the spread of] monkeypox, which should perhaps be called homopox, if the reports coming from the countries where it originated are accurate…"[20]


Cartoon in Qatari daily (Al-Sharq, Qatar, May 21, 2022)

Qatari journalist: Homosexuality Is A Deviation From Normal Human Nature

Qatari journalist Jaber Al-Harmi, a former editor of the state daily Al-Sharq, tweeted on May 21, in the context of the monkeypox outbreak: "It’s an insult to monkeys to associate them with the new virus called monkeypox. This virus is prevalent among homosexuals, who deviate from healthy human nature, and should [therefore] be called homopox. Any deviation from normal human nature, which Allah created for us, results in diseases, plagues and disasters."[21]

In another tweet he expressed solidarity with Gueye, writing: "France, whose capital is the so-called [City of] Lights, allows insulting Islam and its Prophet, on the grounds of freedom, but when an athlete refuses to wear a garment [expressing solidarity with] gays, this is not a matter of freedom. [They] fight purity and respect immorality…""[22]

Qatari Journalist: Monkeypox Is A Warning From Allah To The Perverts

In a column titled "Ideological Terror," Amal 'Abd Al-Malik, who writes for Al-Sharq, likewise came out against the double standard employed by the West when it defends the freedom of gays, whom she described as "perverts," but suppresses the freedom of those who oppose homosexuality.  She added that monkeypox is a warning from Allah.

She wrote: "The West brandishes slogans condemning racism and [championing] equality and freedom of opinion and lifestyle, yet, at the same time, is full of hatred and ideological oppression towards anyone whose beliefs are opposed to its own… Reports recently appeared in the press and on social media that Muslim footballer Idrissa Gana [Gueye] was investigated for refusing to play in a French League [match] which expressed support for the LGBT+ community and to wear a club shirt with the symbol of that community printed on it. This triggered hostility toward him, although he was [merely] practicing his right to act in accordance with his beliefs and to oppose what does not conform to his religion and principles. Is this not suppression of his freedom [and an attempt to] control his decisions [and convey a message of] you are either with us or against us? 

"Idrissa Gana tweeted that he signed up to play with a sport club, not to back campaigns in support of any sector, worldview or group like the LGBT+ community. For it is known that this kind of match [in support of a cause], and support [campaigns] by players – who are known to have influence mainly on young people and teens, namely the age group which is targeted by the gays – allow young people of both genders to consider making a change and joining this group. [But this group] will continue to be excluded no matter how hard the West and some Arabs try to bring it into society, to force it upon society and to give it rights which are inconceivable from the perspective of natural and morality. The group in question is unnatural and at odds with human inclinations, and is not acceptable according to any religion or norm.

"Conversely, if a non-Muslim [player] was forced to participate in a pro-Islamic or pro-Palestinian campaign, for example, [the West] would have seen this as oppression and would have said he was being [forced to support] an extremist terroristic ideology.

"The attack on Gana was unjustified, because he didn't even express his thoughts out loud or utter a single word [about this issue]. All he did was sit out the game. How can those [Western] countries call themselves democratic and brandish slogans of individual freedom when they refuse to accept an opinion which differs from their own[?]! After all, the basis of freedom is respecting different positions and refraining from hurting people for their personal opinions or inclinations. Just as they support homosexuality – although it is contrary to human nature – and allow [gays] to perform acts of abomination, they ought to allow normal people to express their opinion and express their anger at this group, which tries to force its perversions on all  societies in every way. The worst disaster of all is that countries support this group and grant it rights, so that the homosexual flood reaches everyone except for those… who were raised according to the principles of the Islamic faith, human nature and morality. They do not accept this deviant way of thinking and do not intend to support it, but instead are disgusted by [the gays] and those who support them! The recent outbreak of the monkeypox virus, which is said to afflict homosexuals, is a divine warning [that we must] ostracize homosexuality and an expression of Allah’s fury with this perverted and unacceptable group!"[23]

Qatari Journalist Expresses Unusual Stance: Gays Pose No Threat To Our Culture And Religion; These Are The Requirements For Hosting The World Cup

 A different stance was taken by Al-Sharq columnist  'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Khater, who tweeted on June 11, 2022:  "I do not regard the gay community or the presence of gays at the coming World Cup [tournament] as a threat to our culture or religion. [Besides,] this is an international tournament we successfully fought to host, and we accepted the terms for doing so, including that of welcoming members of this group and of other groups, such as hooligans [i.e., ultras]. This has been [part of] this tournament from its inception, and there is no threat to our culture or religion." [24]

 

[1] See Article 296 of Qatar's Penal Code, almeezan.qa.

[2] Insideworldfootball.com, May 23, 2022.

[4] PSG is owned by Qatari businessman Nasser Al-Khalifi and is sponsored by the Qatari multinational telecommunications company Ooredoo.

[5] Since 2019, the French Football Federation has been conducting an anti-homophobia campaign, as part of which players and captains wear shirts and armbands featuring the rainbow symbol on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, marked on May 17. Apnews.com, May 13, 2019.

[6] For example, on May 18, 2022 Muhammad Aboutrika, an Egyptian football player and commentator on the Qatari beIN SPORTS channel, tweeted a  Quranic verse about the response of the people of Sodom after Lot rebuked them for engaging in homosexuality: ''Expel the family of Lot from your city. Indeed, they are people who keep themselves pure' (Quran 27:56). After the quote he added the hashtag "We are all  Idrissa Gana Gueye," and wrote: "Idrissa Gana Gueye, do not be sad. We are with you and we support you; Allah is with you." Twitter.com/trikaofficial, May 18, 2022. It should be noted that Aboutrika himself caused uproar last November after he came out against an anti-homophobia campaign in the English Football League and called on Muslim players not to take part in it. See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1613 - Despite Qatar's Promise To Respect Gay Community In World Cup, Incitement Against It In Qatari Media Continues – December 15, 2021;

MEMRI TV Clip No. 9210 – Egyptian Sports Commentator Mohamed Aboutrika On Qatar's BeIN TV: Arab And Muslim Premier League Footballers Must Not Cooperate With Pro-LGBTQ+ Campaign; Homosexuality Is Unnatural; Alcohol And Homosexuality – Not At The Qatar 2022 World Cup, November 27, 2021.

[7] For example, Attorney Hamad Fadl Al-Yafe'i, a member of the Appeals Committee of Qatar's Football Association, tweeted a picture of the PSG players wearing shirts featuring the rainbow symbol alongside the Ooredoo logo, and stated: "Our national companies should not put themselves in these embarrassing situations and should avoid displaying their logos at the [pro-LGBT+] events that are imposed on them by the French [Football] Federation.   Twitter.com/7amadalyafei, May 16, 2022.

[8] Insideworldfootball.com, May 23, 2022.

[9] Al-Arab (Qatar), May 26, 2022.

[10] The Al-Azhar Center for Combatting Extremism posted on its Facebook page (@OfficialAzharE) on May 21, 2022 that it "opposes the attempts to take advantage of sports matches and art events to express various agendas and normalize homosexuality, which contravenes human nature… Out of awareness of the danger inherent in these moves, the Al-Azhar Center for Combatting Extremism supports the position of the Senegalese football player Idrissa Gueye." 

[11] Twitter.com/Ali_AlQaradaghi, May 19, 2022.

[12] Twitter.com/mshinqiti, May 19, 2022.

[13] Mubasher.aljazeera, May 21, 2022.

[14] Twitter.com/Ebtesam777, May 21, 2022.

[15] While this hashtag has not gained much momentum so far, other Qataris on Twitter made similar statements. Qatari football player Mohammed Al-Suwaidi quoted Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency, as saying that all the people who have contracted monkeypox are gay, and added: "It is currently Qatar's right to prevent them from entering the country on the grounds of [the need to] combat this new epidemic" (Twitter.com/alsowaidi_7, May 21, 2022).

[16] Twitter.com/Ebtesam777, May 21, 2022.

[17] Twitter.com/Ebtesam777, May 21, 2022.

[18] Twitter.com/Ebtesam777, May 21, 2022.

[19] Twitter.com/Ebtesam777, May 19, 2022.

[20] Al-Sharq (Qatar), May 22, 2022.

[21] Twitter.com/jaberalharmi, May 21, 2022.

[22] Twitter.com/jaberalharmi, May 19, 2022.

[23] Al-Sharq (Qatar), May 22, 2022.

[24] Twitter.com/A_AzizAlkhater, June 11, 2022.

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