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Tiroller Tagzeitung, Editorial: “Qatar: Anger and Double Standards,” by Christian Gentsch

Issued Saturday, November 19, 2022

Innsbruck (OTS) The emirate, which is looking to the stars economically and politically, is under heavy criticism as the host country for the FIFA World Cup. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that anyone else will be interested in what is now raging in Qatar.

A torrent of criticism is pouring in on Qatar, the host country for the soccer World Cup that begins on Sunday. Many football fans want to boycott the big event. The 2010 award by the FIFA Executive Committee is suspected of corruption. It is said that votes were bought. The focus is also on human rights violations in the world’s richest country per capita. While nearly 300,000 Qatari citizens enjoy free universal care, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers have few or no rights. Human rights organizations and the media have reported that thousands of guest workers have died building stadiums and infrastructure.
The world should not look the other way, especially when it comes to the miserable working and living conditions of guest workers in Qatar. But what is infuriating is that Qatar is only a model democratic country, freedom of expression is restricted and the judiciary is based on Islamic law, which seems a bit artificial. All of this was already evident, we hope, when the award was presented in 2010. Yes, Qatar is at the bottom of the Democracy Index. Just like its neighbours, the religiously fundamentalist Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, which is governed more repressively. Islamic law also applies in Dubai, where its luxury hotels and theme parks attract many Europeans. Here, too, stately mansions were built by guest workers with decidedly unfair labor contracts. Incidentally, Qatar has often been an accomplished figure as a mediator on the world stage. And unlike many of Afghanistan’s warring factions, it has expelled tens of thousands of Afghans fleeing the Taliban.
Away from the World Cup, however, human rights don’t seem to play a role. Only in the spring did German Economics Minister Robert Habeck (the Greens) visit Emir Tamim bin Hamed Al Thani in Doha. His desire: liquid gas from Qatar. The tiny desert country has the third largest natural gas reserves in the world. Germany and all of Europe wants to do big business there in an effort to separate itself from Russia, and human rights issues shouldn’t get in the way. When it comes to sustainability, one can ignore the newly built football stadiums in Qatar. Only: The FIFA World Cups in Brazil or South Africa, for example, were not sustainable. Corruption spread and what remained of huge debts and huge stadiums that no one needed after the big events. The bill was paid by those who have none anyway.

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