Mon | Mar 20, 2023

#FootballFever | Gonsalves defends Qatar against ‘deranged and unhinged’ criticism over World Cup

Published:Tuesday | November 22, 2022 | 11:56 AM
Gonsalves: "The truth is that Qatar is an amazing country that is soaring to higher heights!” - File photo.

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC – St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, is defending Qatar amid criticism from some western countries over its hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which opened on Sunday and will run for a month.

Qatar is the first Arab country to host a FIFA World Cup competition.

“Qatar's historic achievement in this regard is truly impressive for a small, though wealthy, Arab country. It is a mark of the growing stature and influence of the State of Qatar in the global political economy,” Gonsalves said in a statement.

He said it is, therefore, “unfortunate, and prejudicial to global peace, security, and progress, that Qatar has faced unjustified, even deranged and unhinged, criticisms as hosts of the FIFA World Cup, emanating from some non-governmental organisations and 'tabloid' journalists located in North Atlantic countries such as Britain, the United States of America, and Western Europe.”

Gonsalves said the bulk of the criticism, “dressed up as high principle, is laced with Islamophobia, racism, anti-Arab sentiment, hypocrisy, and profound disrespect, derived from the notion that a small Arab country like Qatar should never aspire to global influence”.

He said critics sneer at, and mock, Qatar's small population size of three million, of which only about 400,000 are Qataris.

Gonsalves said the rest are Qatar's population are migrants, “who by and large, enjoy the host country's hospitality.

“The truth is that Qatar is an amazing country that is soaring to higher heights!” said Gonsalves, who has made several official visits to Qatar, the latest being in February.

“Indeed, the unjustified and jaundiced criticisms of Qatar as hosts of the FIFA World Cup land the critics at a place where they seem to think that the only countries to be eligible to host the World Cup are those which have a watered-down Christian heritage or no religious core values whatsoever, and which subscribe to a universal culture of atomised individualism (as distinct from that of an uplifting social individualism), nihilism, and a globalised culture of neo-liberalism amidst all its malcontents/discontents,” Gonsalves said.

“Thus, the State of Qatar is pilloried for its restrictions on alcohol consumption; its opposition to homosexuality, and sexual permissiveness; its stance against wanton abortion; its embrace of Islamic values unconnected absolutely to any form of homicidal violence; its tightly-knit family systems; its rejection of a future decreed by the cultural tsars of western modernity with their nihilistic project and jaundiced relativism; and its promotion of Arab nationalism within an appropriate universal space.”

The St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, the longest serving leader within the 15-member regional integration grouping, CARICOM, said that Qatar has chalked up “some very impressive achievements” which are “compelling” in its hosting of the FIFA World Cup.

He mentioned a “very high” Human Development Index (HDI) assessed by the United Nations Development Programme, a nominal, annual per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of US$83,000, ranked outstandingly at fifth in the world.

Gonsalves said Qatar has a history of hosting regional and international sporting and cultural events, including the Asian Games in 2006 and is a highly sophisticated and organised country with high-quality education, administration, governance, science, and technology but grounded in Islamic and hereditary traditions.

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