Surprise, surprise, Western double standards are upon us Middle Easterners yet again. That’s right, I’m referring to the constant attacks on Qatar’s hosting of the Fifa world Cup 2022.
Never mind that the Gulf’s second smallest country had won the bid to host a football event and came through with its promise to be prepared on time (you would think that would be cause for some celebration), but criticism seems to be all the hype in the Western world.
No kissing in Qatar? Fears grow of crackdown on LGBTQ fans at World Cup, reads one headline in NBC News. Qatar World Cup: ‘Safe houses’ being considered for women and LGBTQ+ fans, reads another in Pink News, while The Sun posted an article with the headline: Qatar Crackdown: Inside brutal alliance policing Qatar World Cup, from French tear gas cops to Turkish special forces ready to batter fans.
That’s rich coming from the West. So the next world cup is set to take place in the US, Mexico, and Canada. Let’s start with the US.
This year alone, there have been over 300 mass shootings in the US, according to the Gun Violence Archive, including one at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park. Now I don’t know about you, but I would feel safer in any GCC country when it comes to gun violence, especially when many of the US shootings took place in schools, where children and their teachers were left dead. According to The Washington Post, “Not a single week in 2022 has passed without at least four mass shootings”.
If you’re already rethinking your trip to the next world cup, you may want to continue reading. Hate crimes in the US have also risen to a record high in over a decade last year, according to an FBI report cited in the BBC. They have been on the rise almost every year since 2014, according to the news platform.
Next up is Mexico: while there have been concerns about the treatment of journalists in Qatar and the wider GCC, there have been at least 13 journalists killed in Mexico in the first 8 months of this year, the highest number ever documented in the country in a single year, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
While two years ago, in 2019, the son of Mexican drug lord El Chapo was released by police after they came under heavy fire from cartel fighters, authorities said, with Mexico’s president having said he personally ordered his released to save “hundreds of lives,” he claimed.
Does that sound like somewhere you would want to be?
And finally, there’s Canada, land of the homeless, according to a poll for Postmedia that saw 58% of 1,534 respondents say “homelessness is a problem in my community,” while over 38% said homelessness has “increased acts of violence in my community.”
Canadians are also convinced their government is making matters worse, with just 7% of respondents saying their government is “making things better,” while 16% say their government is “making things worse,” according to the National Post.
This time for Qatar
So, when fans look back at the Qatar World Cup, I reckon they’ll know what it feels like to really be safe.
“We have always said that everybody is welcome here,” Qatar World Cup Chief Nasser Al Khater told sports correspondent Rob Harris when asked about LGBTQ fans attending the event.
“All we ask is for people to be respectful of the culture… Everybody is welcome here, and everybody will feel safe when they come to Qatar,” he said. “If you and I hold hands and walk in the street for hours, nobody will tell us anything,” he jested.
Al Khater was even candid about workers’ rights in the country, to which he responded: “People don’t understand the amount of work that’s gone in over the past 10 years in terms of really, really overhauling the workers’ rights and workers’ laws in this country,” he said.
And when questioned him on whether LGBTQ fans would be allowed to wear rainbow arm bands and show public displays of affection, Al Khater responded elegantly yet again, by saying, “All we ask is for people to be respectful of the culture…”
And rightly so. It’s the oldest rule in the book: if we come to your house, we abide by your rules. If you come to our house, you abide by our rules. LGBTQ or not, it so hard to control yourself not to show public displays of affection at a football game? It’s not a nightclub, it’s a sports event. It really shouldn’t be that difficult.
The best part about Qatar’s response, however, is their placement of Islamic verses that preach tolerance which were spread across the stadium area for all visitors to see. So maybe the West can learn a thing or two about tolerance from the GCC.
And since the next world cup is in the US, Mexico, and Canada, I reckon people will look back and think, Qatar seems like paradise now.