The Western modernity project, which has undeniably accomplished enormous innovations for the entire world, is yet to get rid of major ailments and liabilities still blemishing the collective western mindset. The current World Cup in Qatar has revealed the depth of that morbidity, namely the deep-rooted European racism, and recalcitrant persistence of classical and novel Orientalism in the perceptions of many Westerners.
Likewise, conventional and social media have reinforced negative stereotypes about the East, both Muslims and non-Muslims, as the current World Cup event has revealed to us that Western racism against the others is still active and far from being dormant or historical.
‘I Do Not Respect This Country and I Will Not Go to It’
An interesting comment I came across recently on Twitter from a European woman stated the following:
“I am a woman with special needs, and I learned that Qatar does not respect people with special needs, so I do not respect this country and I will not go to it.”
How did this lady come to the utterly mendacious realization that Qatar or any other country, (non-Western) does not respect people with special needs?
How can any country on earth not respect people with special needs and their requirements? This comment by that European lady belongs to a long catalogue of racist comments about Arabs and Muslims in general, backwardness, terrorism, etc.
In the final analysis, the West would go as far as far as saying that Qatar effectively took advantage of the opportunity to organize the World Cup, only in order to vent its frustration and compensate for its utter insignificance! How dare they do this, embarking on such a gargantuan feat, which only Europeans and westerners should be tasked to do? Surely, the Arabs and Muslims have exceeded their proscribed boundaries!
Europe: Deep-Rooted Orientalist Racism
In the context of the explosion of this deep-rooted Orientalist racism, there are several quick points that deserve to be evoked and satisfactorily examined regarding the following question:
- Are we really living in a world of multiculturalism, diverse traditions, societies and religions where coexistence and Mutual respect is the ultimate regulator of relations,
- Or do we live in a world that is centred around the West and Europe, directly or indirectly, and therefore must willy-nilly be guided and led by Western values and standards?
This is part of a set of complex questions hovering around the limits of cultural particularism and the horizons of universal human values. But this is a discussion that needs broader spaces and wider contexts, perhaps.
The first note is related to the reported Qatari position of refusing to host gay banners during matches and festivals in the World Cup. This is in addition to preventing public demonstrations or gatherings for this specific category of spectators.
The authorities in the small Arabian Gulf state said that the public celebration demanded by homosexuals contradicts the culture, traditions and religion of the Qatari society, and while the Qataris wouldn’t ask arrivals about their sexual orientation, they prevent the expression of those orientations in the public space, whether those orientations are homosexual or non-homosexual.
Western Countries Are Not in a Position to Give “Moral Lessons” to Other Nations
Here, the Western media arrogance manifested itself by claiming or giving the impression that they represent the overall human discourse when in fact they represent no more than one-eighth of the world’s population (Europe and America) – in fact, many Westerners do not actually agree with much of what is published and adopted by that media.
Indeed, neither the Chinese nor the Indian media nor the rest of the world stirred up this “non-conformist” Qatari position, because the majority of countries and societies around the world recognize the diversity of cultures, traditions and orientations of societies and assume mutual respect.
A One-sided Moral Lesson is Just Hypocrisy!
Media exaggerations and insinuations have reached astonishing proportions: Backward Muslim countries are condemning homosexuals to death, and there is a real danger to the lives of those going to the World Cup, and so on.
An amazing thing that calls for an occasional reminder of a historical fact dating back a thousand years ago, when the societies of Muslim countries in Baghdad, Damascus, Andalusia, and India were publishing collections of poetry and literature about homosexuals and boys, Europe considered women a demonic being.
The important thing here is to pay ample attention to the fact that societies shift and change unceasingly and do not move in a unilateral linear direction, but oscillate and turn left and right, back and forth, and sometimes in a circular pattern, according to contemporary socio-economic challenges and pressures which are extremely complex and difficult to predict, and that its cultures and traditions are organized in a changing process, not static or fixed, and Europe is one of the most important examples. Therefore, a distinction must always be made between criticism that is always needed to stimulate new human paths, and another criticism that is part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
The second note relates to the prohibition of alcohol consumption in and around the stands while confining it to specific places as announced by the organizers.
Once again, the Western media is raging, as if there were a “holy book” for football that stipulates the presence of alcohol as part of the sport that has charmed millions. The host country determined the practice, again based on local culture, religion and traditions. Why do many Westerners not want to respect non-Western cultures, while demanding that non-Westerners conform to Western culture sensitivities when others visit or reside in Western countries?
What is worse is that we do not see this brazen bullying of Qatar even in other non-Western cases. Is it acceptable in the West for some Western tourists to congregate in the center of the Indian capital, Delhi, and slaughter a cow, for example? Of course not, but it is required of Westerners and non-Westerners not to prejudice the Indian tradition of respecting cows. No one is required to agree or believe what others believe, but what is required is mutual respect.
The third note is related to the rights of Asian workers in Qatar and the purported violations of their rights, committed by some firms and employers, governmental or private.
Here, it has been made amply clear in many cases that violations have already taken place, especially in the first years of construction, and in every proven case, the media deserves a real appreciation for exposing these violations.
Needless to say, this has led to a significant improvement in the laws related to labor and workers, according to the reports of concerned international organizations. But at the same time, there has been a vitriolic black media campaign focusing on unproven data claiming that there have been as many as 6,500 deaths among these workers since 2010. Again, according to international statistics, the size of Asian labor in Qatar is around 2 million workers.
Assuming that the aforementioned death figure is correct, then, from a purely statistical point of view, it is not far from the natural and general death rate for a community of 2 million. On the other hand, the number that we do not hear much about in the black Western media (and this description does not apply to all Western media) is the 29,000 immigrants who have drowned on the shores of Europe since 2014, because the official authorities in more than one European country prevented them. And returning them to the sea, at a rate of more than 4,000 deaths annually, so far, according to statistics and reports of the International Organization for Migration.
The fourth note is the tendentious Western media focus on the fact that Qatar spent 220 billion dollars on the World Cup, which is a huge figure compared to what was spent by all the countries that previously hosted the World Cup.
However, a quick search of this figure leads the researcher to the fact that this spending went away from direct spending on sports facilities, to building a modern infrastructure that includes whole cities, gathering facilities, streets, bridges, and so on, and that this spending extended between the years of 2010, which is the year Qatar was designated as the would- be host for the World Cup, and until now, i.e. the year 2022, at a rate of 18 billion every year.
This is more or less a normal figure for a country quite rich in oil and gas.
But focusing on this number in the Western media seemed to insinuate that the Arabs do not deserve the wealth that is in their hands and that they squander it rather lavishly.
Indeed, between the lines of Western criticism of this figure, an honest observer would detect a certain resentment that reflects a huge amount of envy. Unseen, this envy consists of two parts:
- The first is that the wealth of other countries is “misplaced” and should, therefore, have gone to Europe and the West. How and why did these riches come to them, and why on earth we cannot access them?
- The second: How does a “backward, Arab and Muslim” country that is the target of constant ridicule succeed in organizing a huge global event on the level of the World Cup? Organizing these events is exclusively our business.
In the colonial past, Europe arrogated the wealth of others, and plundering it over the course of centuries from Latin America to Africa, to Asia. And now, to their chagrin, the West does not reach all the wealth as easily as it used to do. Now, too, many countries and societies have acquired self-creating, organizing and innovation capabilities, and are no longer governed by the hegemony of control by European and Western centers.
Finally, there is a contemplative note: If we compare aerial photographs of European cities such as London, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin, with others such as Kuala Lumpur, Delhi, Doha, Dubai, Riyadh, then we can safely argue that the second group (and to which we can add numerous other cities around the world) was built thanks to the wealth of the countries themselves, whereas European cities were built historically thanks to the wealth arrogated by the colonial masters. The history of European colonial plundering of continents, which is still going on in the African continent and elsewhere, though indirectly but quite rapaciously, does not qualify Europeans and westerners in general, to teach moral lessons to the world.