We’ve finally reached the moment supporters and migrant workers have been dying for.
Say what you like about Qatar (or if you live there maybe don’t!), but attention now turns to the football. We can just enjoy the England victory over Iran and look forward to future games. Or can we? Should we?
Qatar is having trouble controlling the narrative around the 2022 World Cup, due to media attention on the plight of migrant labourers and LGBTQ people in Qatar.
The UK media, and establishment have drawn attention to the plight of migrant labourers who have built the stadiums in the wealthy Gulf emirate — and also the nightmare experienced by LGBTQ people living there.
Qatar denies LGBTQ rights
It is currently illegal to be homosexual in Qatar, with punishments of up to seven years in prison. This law creates a difficult and dangerous environment for LGBTQ individuals in Qatar. Not only do they have to fear discrimination and violence from their peers, but they also have to worry about being arrested and imprisoned simply for expressing their true selves. This is an unjust and unfair situation, and it needs to change. LGBTQ people should be free to live their lives without fear of imprisonment or violence. It’s good that people are speaking out on this issue.
Qatar mistreats workers
The workers who are unfortunate enough to live in Qatar often face abuse and exploitation. Many of them are paid very low wages, and are not given any benefits or overtime pay. They are also often denied the right to unionize or strike.
Workers who try to speak out about the abuses they face are often punished. They can be fired, deported, or even arrested.
According to Amnesty International, Qatari authorities have not investigated “thousands” of deaths of migrant workers over the past decade “despite evidence of links between premature deaths and unsafe working conditions.” That these deaths are not being recorded as work-related prevents families from receiving compensation, the advocacy group states.
Barun Ghimire is a human rights lawyer based in Kathmandu whose work focuses on the exploitation of Nepali migrants working abroad. He says: “The Qatar World Cup is really the bloody cup – the blood of migrant workers.” Reportedly more than 6,500 migrant workers have died while supporting infrastructure and construction for the tournament.
However, there are many other problems with Qatar that are not being talked about much.
Qatar is not a democracy
Qatar is not a democracy. The country is an absolute monarchy, and the ruling Al Thani family has complete control over the government.
The emir is the head of state, and he chooses the prime minister, deputy prime minister and council of ministers. Thirty of the 45 members of the advisory council, or Majlis al-Shura, are elected by popular vote, though legislative drafting authority rests with the council of ministers and is only reviewed by the advisory council.
The first ever elections in Qatar were held in 1999 for a Central Municipal Council. Progress is painfully slow.
There are no political parties or elections, and all citizens are subject to strict controls on their speech and activity. While Qatar does have a constitution, it is not based on democratic principles and does not provide for the equality of all citizens. Instead, the ruling family maintains power through a system of patronage and tribal alliances. This lack of democracy has led to criticism from human rights groups, who point to the country’s high levels of income inequality and lack of political participation as evidence that Qatar is not meeting its citizens’ needs.
Qatar is linked with Jihadists
It is no secret that Qatar has been one of the main drivers of the wars in Libya and Syria. For years, Qatar has been funnelling money and arms to extremist groups in both countries, all in an effort to destabilize the region and expand its own influence.
In Libya, Qatar was instrumental in funding and arming the insurrection against Muammar Gaddafi, eventually leading to his overthrow and death. In 2011 — with what the New York Times called “the blessing” of the US — Doha supplied arms to the rebels fighting to overthrow Gadaffi.
However, as the New York Times went on to report, “American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants.”
In Syria, Qatar has been a staunch supporter of the rebel groups fighting against Bashar al-Assad’s government, providing them with financial backing and military training. Qatar has been linked with both the Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham.
Qatar’s actions have led to a further escalation of the conflict, resulting in thousands more deaths and millions more displaced people. As the wars in Libya and Syria continue to rage on, it is clear that Qatar’s underhanded roles in escalating these conflicts must be exposed and condemned.
We also need to call out the hypocrisy of those firms and individuals who are happy to take Qatar’s bloodstained money. Some of the corporate sponsors are happy to stress their ‘woke’ credentials at the same time as pocketing cash from a regime that is happy to legally harass people on account of their sexuality and finance Islamist fanatics.
‘Woke Coke’ says:-
“Coca-Cola is proud of its history of supporting and including the LGBTQI community in the workplace, in its advertising and in communities throughout the world. From supporting LGBTQI pride parades to running rainbow-colored billboards, Coca-Cola has demonstrated its commitment to protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.”
Yet that commitment to gay rights sits strangely with its sponsorship of the World Cup in Qatar.
Maybe it’s a good thing that Qatar got the World Cup as at least it has shone a spotlight on just how nasty they are, how much they need to change, and just how much our corporate and celebrity whores will abase themselves for money.
By Patrick Harrington