By Zainab Chaudry
CNN called the FIFA 2022 World Cup opening ceremony in Qatar “controversial.” MSNBC criticized the display of Palestinian flags. New York Times gloated “the party was over” when Qatar lost to Ecuador in the first match. BBC decided to censor the whole show by not even airing it, despite carrying the last World Cup ceremonies live.
The pundits that were silent when countries like Russia, France and the U.S. hosted the World Cup found their voice calling out Qatar’s human rights record.
I’m not a die hard fan of soccer, nor Qatar for that matter. But I see why the rest of the world’s response was largely positive to yesterday’s program whereas Western media’s reaction was anything but.
The double standards and performative, selective moral grandstanding here are of course because Qatar is an Arab, Muslim majority country. This is the first time an Arab, Muslim country has hosted the competition. Their proudly showcasing their ethnic, national and religious identity on the world stage in a much needed message of inclusivity and tolerance flipped the script and changed the narrative on Islam, Muslims and Arabs in the West.
That simply doesn’t sit well with some.