The 2022 FIFA World Cup is taking place amid pointed criticism of the host country, Qatar, over its human rights record, including its treatment of the LGBTQ community. Qatar itself rejects this criticism, presenting it as racist and Islamophobic.
Saudi Arabia has recently come to the support of its neighbor Qatar on this issue. In the past few days, the Saudi state media has published articles harshly condemning the West and calling for solidarity with Qatar. These articles called Western criticism of Qatar "insolence" and "madness" rooted in a false belief in the West in its right to impose its "poisoned" values on other societies in the guise of protecting human rights. One article even claimed that Hitler was "preferable to the homosexual machine that the German team is now promoting."
It should be noted that in January 2021 there was a reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, following several years of strained relations during the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar by the Arab Quartet (Saudi Arabia, Union of Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt). However, it appears that only now, with the opening of the World Cup, has the Saudi state media taken a positive tone towards Qatar.
Saudi Arabia, which also criminalizes same-sex relations, which it considers un-Islamic and a threat to human nature, apparently sees an opportunity to join forces with its neighbor Qatar in rebuffing the Western criticism that it too is facing over its own human rights record.
Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman (right) with Qatari Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Aal Thani at the World Cup opening ceremony (image: Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), November 21, 2022)
The following are translated excerpts from recent articles in the Saudi press rejecting the Western criticism against Qatar.
Saudi Daily Al-Riyadh: The Gulf Press Should Rebuff Western Campaign Against Qatar
The November 25, 2022 editorial of the daily Al-Riyadh, by Jamil Al-Balawi, contended that the Western criticism of Qatar during the World Cup was part of the Western smear campaign against all the Gulf states, and that these states should formulate a unified media discourse to rebuff this criticism. Titled "Our Media Is One," the editorial stated: "The Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] countries are facing systematic media campaigns that target their values, their achievements and their success. Saudi Arabia has stood up to such campaigns in the past by being firm and persisting in its path, rooted in its values and principles, despite the viciousness of [the attacks against it].
"This phenomenon is also clearly evident in the attempts to undermine Qatar's successful organization of the World Cup and to thwart this achievement by promoting reprehensible cultures and attempting to politicize this global event [the World Cup]. The Gulf countries have displayed media solidarity in trying to rebuff the slanted media campaigns against them, by stressing the need to collectively oppose these campaigns and by highlighting the contribution of the GCC states [to the world] in all domains.
"The GCC countries noted this confrontation and worked to strengthen the principle of cooperation [among them] – which is the purpose of the GCC – by striving to formulate a unified media discourse, realizing the importance [of such a discourse] and the moral and professional responsibility it requires. The Gulf media has a significant role in confronting the Western slander being directed night and day against the Gulf states and the poison that the [Western] propaganda campaigns are spreading…"
Cartoon in the Saudi daily Al-Eqtisadiah : The Western press harps on the LGBTQ issue, when the world confronts burning crises (Image: Al-Eqtisadiah, Saudi Arabia, November 28, 2022)
Saudi Columnist: Hitler Is Preferable To The Homosexual Machine Marketed By The Germans; To Hell With Western Culture
Columnist for the Saudi daily Al-Madina Talal Al-Qashqari condemned the promoters of LGBTQ and the German national team in particular, in a column titled "Hitler Is Preferable": "The homosexual machine of the 21st century will continue to storm and rage until Allah punishes it with intense torment, since it is similar to the machine of the [modern homosexuals'] ancient brothers, the people of Lot, whom Allah destroyed to the very last man thousands of years ago. The two machines are very similar, in terms of the insistence on [practicing] the perversion, legitimizing it and classifying it as a human right and personal freedom like any other human activity in any domain of life. This is a flagrantly Satanic machine, and those who operate it do not understand the meaning of reproach or rebuke and do not heed warnings or advice.
"Germany's football team, which [once] amazed the world with its [excellent] football – winning the World Cup several times and giving the world outstanding players, some of the greatest football legends of all time who play with enviable virility – has sadly given up its virility and transformed its football machine into a machine for promoting homosexuals. [As part of this] it expressed its protest after [its members] were banned from committing their offences during the World Cup. In the team photo they took before their match against Japan, its players covered their mouths with their hands as an act of protest and of support for homosexuals. [The German team] lost its football prestige, and the Japanese team taught it a serious lesson by beating it 1:0.
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"Even if the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was the worst model German culture ever presented to the world – due to his racism against all non-Aryans, his invasion of Europe and Russia, his attempt to take over the world by force, his triggering of the [Second] World War and the murder and expulsion of millions of people all over the world, he is preferable to the German team's marketing of the homosexual machine.
"To hell with Western culture, which markets homosexuality and tries to corrupt people with it. Then there is also the U.S., which is considering legitimizing abominable acts with animals and children and marriage between two brothers or between a son and his mother. This [Western] culture has reached a level of growing moral degenerations, and [now the Westerners] are eying the Muslims, because, having failed to corrupt their monotheism, they know that homosexuality will separate a Muslim from his religion. May Islam protect [us] from these evil plans."
Saudi Journalist: Perhaps This Time The Westerners Will Realize They Are Not The Teachers Of Mankind
In an article in the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily titled "The World Cup in Qatar – Not for Gays," journalist Mishari Al-Zaidi wrote: "The World Cup is not just a football tournament for the West; it's an opportunity to market certain man-made Western values. For a while now we have been seeing repeated efforts, both insolent and bothersome, by radical Western liberals to normalize homosexuality among men and women, so much so that they are changing [the nature of] mankind, which is based on male and female, and horribly disregarding the laws of life and of human nature. Worse, they teach this moral poison to children, and that is the gravest aspect, since they start from the very bottom, from [children's] first experiences in life.
"FIFA was right… to ban [team captains] from wearing arm bands saying 'one love' during the World Cup matches in Qatar. This angered some of the European teams, and we saw the German team members placing their hands on their mouths during the photo-op before their first match in the tournament, due to their disagreement with the international association [FIFA] regarding the 'one love' armband.
"Maybe this time the Westerners will realize that they are not the pinnacle of the universe, the source of all truth, the fountain of certainty, the source of all morals and the [moral] guides of mankind. There are different values and societies that do not accept this Western nonsense. [The Westerners] are convinced of their virtue, that is their problem and we pity them and the children, the mothers and the fathers in their societies. But we firmly oppose [letting] their arrogance transform the entire world into men who behave like women."
Saudi Liberal: Western Values Are Not Absolute; Homosexuality Is Illegitimate; I Am Disgusted With The German Team
On November 24, Saudi liberal Turki Al-Hamad, known to be close to Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, posted a series of tweets condemning Western promotion of homosexual rights: "The problem of the entire West – Europe, the U.S. and their colonies – is that they are still trapped in the delusion of European and Western centrality, as though everything revolves around Western culture… Nobody denies the central role played by European society in shaping the modern world, but this is not absolute. According to this delusion, 'man' is synonymous with 'Westerner,' and Western values – all of them, without any distinction, and only they – are universal human values, or should be. Hence, they must be given precedence by all of the world's societies, regardless of the priorities of [some of] these societies, whose last concern is LGBT or transsexual rights.
"Homosexuality has existed throughout human history and was practiced in secret and sometimes openly. Everyone knows this, but that does not mean that it is legitimate or has become a human right, on a par with the right to life, freedom, livelihood and dignity, for example. When the West gives up its chauvinist [delusion of] centrality, which is the legacy of the imperialist era, and admits that 'man' is not synonymous with 'Westerner,' that Asians, Africans and Latin Americans are human too, and that [Western] values are not absolute and superior – then and only then will we be able to talk of a [truly] diverse world. The world is "me, you and him," not just him."
In another tweet, on November 27, he wrote: "In all the previous World Cup tournaments I was one of the German team's most avid fans, due to my enthusiasm for German culture and especially German philosophy. [But] in this World Cup I detest this team due to its childish actions, and especially because of the unjustified provocation of the [German] interior minister, which was [also] a childish act."
Former Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Editor: The West Is Trying To Impose Its Values In Disrespect Of Other Cultures
Tariq Al-Homayed, formerly the editor of the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and currently a columnist for the daily, wrote that the West is trying to impose its values, based on a racist attitude and while using the principle of freedom in a way that does not respect other nations and cultures. The following are excerpts from the English version of the article, published in the daily's English edition.
"What we are witnessing today of attempts to impose 'values' and ideas on the whole world and to involve politics in sports is nothing but racism, not freedom, as some claim to be the case. It reaches the point of barbarism in various fields.
"What is known and simple is that your freedom ends where the freedom of others begins. What we are witnessing today is an infringement and an attack on customs, values, and beliefs. All this is being done in the name of freedom!
"Suddenly, after the war in Ukraine, it became acceptable to involve politics in sports, and today attempts are being made to do so with the FIFA World Cup. The question here is what if an Arab football team or player decided to express themselves?
"What if a team or player wears a badge that reads 'Don't Forget Palestine,' 'No to anti-Muslims,' or 'Do not transgress on my religion' ... Would this be acceptable in the West? Will it be considered a right of expression? It certainly won't be allowed.
"Today, we are witnessing a blatant abuse of the notion of freedom by extortionary political campaigns, which have turned to racism used by the media…
"What we are witnessing today against the backdrop of the FIFA World Cup is a different level of descent in attacking cultures, customs, traditions, and countries that do not necessarily have the exact resemblance to the West or the United States…
"It is both strange and surprising that those who lecture us about freedoms and values forget that they are the ones who were behind the invasion of our countries. The best example is Iraq, where hundreds of thousands were killed. To date, Iraq is still suffering from that occupation. Despite all this, we hear lame phrases about freedom, values, and respect for human rights…
"Unfortunately, we are facing a crazy campaign that lacks all the foundations of rationality and respect for others."
 On Saudi Arabia's attitude towards homosexuality, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 10219, Saudi Writer: We Must Provide Parents, Educators With Tools To Combat Homosexuality, September 21, 2022; MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1638, Wave Of Homophobic Articles In Gulf Press: Homosexuality Is A Perversion That The West Is Trying To Spread Among Us; We Need A Plan To Eradicate It, June 16, 2022; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8248,. Saudi Columnists: Homosexuality, Which Is Condoned In The West, Is Repulsive And Contravenes Islam; We Must Defend Our Societies Against It And Impose The Death Penalty On Those Who Engage In It, August 28, 2019; MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1483, Saudi Arabia's General Department Of Counter-Extremism Describes Feminism, Homosexuality, Westernization As Forbidden Extremism, Only To Backtrack Several Days Later, Following Criticism, November 13, 2019.
 Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), November 25, 2022.
 "German machine" is a well-known nickname for the German team.
 Al-Madina (Saudi Arabia), November 25, 2022.
 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London) November 25, 2022.
 Twitter.com/TurkiHAlhamad1, November 24, 2022.
 Twitter.com/TurkiHAlhamad1, November 27, 2022.
 English.aawsat.com, November 27, 2022.