Universalism, Relativism and Qatar

Kenan Malik in Pandaemonium:

“Everyone has their beliefs and cultures. We welcome and respect that. All we ask is that other people do the same for us.” So insists Yasir al-Jamal, deputy general secretary of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy for the World Cup.

The torrent of criticism that has poured down on Qatar at the start of the World Cup, particularly over its treatment of women, gay people and migrant workers, has also created a pushback, both from supporters of the Qatari regime and those who see in the criticism only Western “performative moral outrage”, “colonial myths” and “orientalist stereotypes”.

Certainly, there is hypocrisy and racism woven into the discussion of Qatar. That should not, however, be a shield to protect Qatar or elicit “respect” for its culture and mores.

What al-Jamal considers to be Qatari cultural beliefs to be welcomed and respected by the rest of the world are rejected by many Qataris themselves. Qatari gay, lesbian and trans people live in fear of imprisonment, even death, because their own beliefs and cultural ways are not just not respected by the authorities but brutally repressed.

Many thousands of Qatari women do not “welcome and respect” the denial of equal rights. Nor do tens of thousands of migrant workers facing brutal treatment in a country that bans trade unions.

More here.