Tourists visiting Qatar have always been asked to obey certain rules and customs when it comes to sharia, the Islamic law, and the same will happen to FIFA World Cup visitors. Here’s all you need to know.
New Delhi,UPDATED: Oct 7, 2022 19:03 IST
AFWA found that this poster was issued by a local conservative group based in Qatar — not the government.
By Dheeshma Puzhakkal:
With the FIFA World Cup 2022 right around the corner, a list of rules supposedly issued by the host country, Qatar has been shared widely on social media. These supposedly official rules for football fans visiting Qatar to watch the Word Cup have been largely criticised online for being conservative and even bigoted.
The poster listing the rules said in English and Arabic, Qatar welcomes you, followed by Reflect your respect to the religion and culture of Qatari people by avoiding these behaviours. These so-called behaviours included drinking alcohol, homosexuality, immodesty, not respecting places of worship, loud music and sounds, profanity, dating, and taking people’s pictures without their permission.
AFWA found that this poster was issued by a local conservative group based in Qatar not the government.
We noticed the hashtag #Reflect_Your_Respect at the bottom left corner of the poster. When we searched for this hashtag on Twitter, it led us to the account Show Your Respect (@RYRQatar). Its profile picture was the same logo seen on the poster. The accounts bio read, We contribute to the consolidation of Islamic values and principles that support the Qatari identity. This account share the viral poster on October 1.
As per media reports, Reflect Your Respect is a grass-roots campaign started by a group of Qatari women in 2014. The campaign aims to promote modest dresses among expatriate residents and visitors, among other things. The campaign group also has an Instagram profile.
Guidelines issued by Qatar government
To get to the bottom of it, we checked official guidelines issued by the Qatari government for visiting football fans. While some of these rules were similar to the ones mentioned in the viral poster, they made no mention of homosexuality.
These guidelines, available on the official website of Qatars FIFA World Cup 2022, mentioned restrictions on clothing. While football fans can wear clothes of their choice, they are expected to cover their shoulders and knees when visiting public places like museums and government buildings. Fans are also not permitted to remove their shirts inside the stadium.
The guidelines also said that since public displays of affection are not part of local culture, those travelling to Qatar are expected to respect the same. The guidelines also mentioned that while alcohol is not part of local culture, hospitality is and that alcohol will be available to purchase for fans who wish to enjoy it.
While the guide says everybody will be welcome in Qatar during the FIFA World Cup 2022, the Qatar government has so far not issued any clarity on the safety of LGBTQIA+ tourists visiting the country. The countrys laws, which criminalise same-sex relationships, have raised concern among queer football fans.
FIFA told the Guardian it had received sufficient assurances from Qatari authorities regarding fan safety. In a letter to the Human Rights Sports Coalition, FIFAs Joyce Cook, then the chief social responsibility and education officer and now a senior adviser, said it had thoroughly assessed the named legal clauses and their implementation in practice, including in particular as they pertain to LGBTIQ+ persons.
Official body calls out viral poster
The Twitter account of Qatars FIFA World Cup 2022 tweeted clarifying the viral poster was not official and contains factually incorrect information. The clarification note posted on October 6 also said an extensive fan guide will be issued shortly.
It is hence clear that a poster shared by a conservative local group in Qatar is being falsely circulated as guidelines issued by the government for tourists attending the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
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