Qatar may not have accounted for the amount of scrutiny its bid to host the World Cup would bring to its shores, including against its rather non-existent take on religious freedom and tolerance.
Israeli journalists have been berated and taunted whilst on camera, which affirms that despite Qatar’s promises of safe passage and protection for the Jewish State, the old order prevails. Evidently, Jews are not welcomed in the land of radical Islam.
Israeli tourists were also harassed and singled out from the crowd – although such incidents took place away from the media’s prying eyes, they had the same degree of bigotry and prejudice.
As millions convene in Qatar to celebrate one of the most globally recognised sport events, fear remains that religious oppression will taint the festivities, and act as a mirror to the odious narrative extremists have spread from their pulpits and centres – that arguing for religious supremacy is the ultimate expression of one’s piety, with little regards to individuals’ freedom of choice.
And though Qatar’s state officials may not necessarily hold such views themselves, they have nevertheless offered refuge to radical Islam’s ideologues, and curated a close friendship with the Islamic Republic of Iran, a sponsor of global terrorism.
If we abide by the old adage that we are the company we keep, Qatar may want to review its address book.
Under the influence of the mullahs of Iran, religious minorities in the region have been increasingly persecuted, a reality we need to come to grips with. Through its tentacular network of influence, Iran’s regime has promoted and encouraged the othering of countless religious and ethnic minorities – none more than the Baha’i and the Kurds.
As for Christians, it is needless to say that their fate in the nations where Iran holds sway is to have fared rather poorly. Christian communities in the Islamic Republic have been subjected of late to the most objectionable violence, without much of a rebuttal on the part of the international community.
In August 2022 UN experts tentatively raised these issues, noting, “We are deeply concerned at the increasing arbitrary arrests, and on occasions, enforced disappearances of members of the Baha’i faith and the destruction or confiscation of their properties, in what bears all the signs of a policy of systematic persecution,” adding that Christian converts also faced stigmatisation and faith-based violence.
And “Such state-sanctioned intolerance furthers extremism and violence. We call on the Iranian authorities to de-criminalise blasphemy and take meaningful steps to ensure the right to freedom of religion or belief and freedom of opinion and expression without discrimination.”
If anything, it is rather clear that the collective apathy of the West has emboldened radicals, allowing them to use platforms such as the World Cup to condone and disseminate their venom against religious freedom.