June 13, 2024

Moon Desk: A cartoon by a French newspaper depicting Qatari footballers as terrorists has sparked outrage on social media, with users calling out its “blatant Islamophobia” and “racism”.

The caricature was published by Le Canard enchainé in its October issue, which focuses on Qatar and its role as the FIFA World Cup 2022 host.

The image depicts seven bearded men with “Qatar” written across their chests above big numbers. They appear to be chasing a football in the sand while carrying machetes, guns and rocket launchers. One wears a belt laden with explosives. Five are wearing blue robes and two are wearing black shirts and pants with balaclavas covering their faces.

Five men in white robes are drawn on the sidelines, looking on.

“Le Canard Enchaîné published a despicable cartoon showing its blatant racism and hatred of Islam,” one user wrote in Arabic on Twitter. “They describe Qatar as an authoritarian emirate and its national team as terrorists.”

“A special issue by Le Canard enchainé about Qatar, you cannot imagine the extent of the deep French hatred, contempt and humiliation for Qatar, its people, its government and its symbols. I wonder why the Qatari ambassador is still in Paris???!!!” another user posted.

Hamad Al-Kawari, a minister of state and the president of Qatar’s National Library, called on France to show a “little sportsmanship”.

“Even caustic satire is welcome!!!” he tweeted in French. “But the Canard Enchaîné decided to resort to lies, hatred and grudges to attack Qatar and denigrate it.”

Last month, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani slammed the “unprecedented campaign” of criticism directed at the country in the lead-up to the World Cup.

“It became clear to us that the campaign continues, expands and includes fabrication and double standards, until it reached a level of ferocity that made many question, unfortunately, the real reasons and motives behind this campaign,” he said, adding that no other host country faced that level of criticism.

Several cities in France, including the capital Paris, will not show the World Cup matches in fan zones, citing concerns over rights violations of migrant workers and the environmental impact of the tournament.

France’s top football team, Paris Saint-Germain, is owned by Nasser Al-Khelaifi, chairman of Qatar Sports Investments and beIN media gGroup.

“We have very constructive relations with the club and its entourage yet it doesn’t prevent us to say when we disagree,” Pierre Rabadan, the deputy mayor of Paris in charge of sports, told French media.

Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and its human rights record have been under the spotlight since it was awarded the hosting of football’s 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Earlier this month, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said Qatar has made progress in its labour reforms but challenges in their implementation remain. It said reforms have improved the working and living conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers – estimated to form 85 percent of Qatar’s population – though additional efforts are needed to ensure that all workers can benefit.

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