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Qatar 2022: the World Cup of Islamism?

Qatar 2022: The World Cup of Islamism?


While messages of support for LGBTQ+ rights were banned by FIFA for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the host nation would have no trouble using the tournament kit to promote its vision recognized as rigorous of Islam.

At least that's what the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) tells us, a non-governmental Islamic media monitoring organization considered by some to be “indispensable” and by others as a “operation of propaganda” neo-conservative.

The outbreak of this controversy in the West starts from a fake news. In a video shared last week, a preacher would take advantage of the World Cup to convert visitors to Islam.

This video actually dates from 2016 and is therefore not related to the World Cup.&nbsp ;

Nevertheless, this false news has prompted some to ask themselves this question: what if this conservative country took advantage of the event to deploy its soft power and carry out religious proselytism? In addition to the MEMRI organization, a personality such as columnist and essayist Caroline Fourest also wanted to address this issue.

Firstly, the country would have given more means to the organization Qatar Guest Center to invite non-Muslims visiting the country during the World Cup to convert to Islam.

Secondly, the country would use an open exhibition for the World Cup, at the mosque of Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab , to introduce visitors to the “benefits” of the vision of Islam in Qatar, known as being of conservative and Wahhabi inspiration.

One of the religious proselytizing pamphlets.

Here again, a government organization would be responsible, namely the Abdullah Bin Zaid Al Mahmoud Islamic Cultural Center. The latter is part of the Qatari Ministry of Islamic Affairs, and he would have done everything to make this exhibition accessible to as many people as possible, by opening it to men and women and allowing remote access by QR codes in all hotel rooms.

The QR code allowing access from a visitor's hotel room to the platform for the promotion of Qatari Wahhabi Islam.

Finally, the country has put up posters in public places in the emirate to extol the importance of Islam in the lives of believers and the importance of hadiths (sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) in building this life in accordance with the Muslim faith.

If these actions can be seen as an integral part of the official discourse of Qatar, the presence on the spot of preachers considered as terrorists in several countries is more worrying.

For example, Sheikh Zakir Naik is being prosecuted in India for financing terrorist operations and he is a pro Al-Qaeda propagandist. He would have attended the opening ceremony of the tournament, which Qatar has denied.

And he wouldn't be the only one of his kind there.

Furthermore, while religious promotion also applies to the activities of Muslim religious influencers, for example inviting foreign women to try the hijab, several preachers do not hesitate to applaud these “efforts” of the host country to “bring people to Islam”. 

The World Cup in Qatar has been taking place since Sunday, November 20, 2022. It will end on December 18, 2022 .

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