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.
🇶🇦 People who came to watch the #CoupeDuMonde de #football in #Qatar converting to Islam?
❌ Attention, this video dates from 2016, and therefore has nothing to do with the Mondial which started yesterdayhttps://t.co/474zRYM38X
— Info or Intox 🔎 – France 24 (@InfoIntoxF24) November 21, 2022
This video actually dates from 2016 and is therefore not related to the World Cup.  ;
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.
FOUREST IN FREEDOM
▶️ #WorldcupQatar2022 “Of course we had to think about that when this World Cup was awarded at the time. And the financial interest played in the sense that we did not ask questions.”
#24hPujadas #LCI #La26 ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/p8MPSsC69w
— 24h Pujadas (@24hPujadas) November 22, 2022
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.
Qatar Guest Center to prepare a team of 2,000 people to call for Islam, where it will allocate 10 mobile cars and 10 specialized tents.pic.twitter.com/hHKH0OJZmg
— Mohammed (@IKON1436) November 17, 2022
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.
في #قطر نعمل كجسد واحد .. أفرادا ومؤسسات .. حكومية أو خاصة .. تعاون واكمال للأدوار..
برامج متعددة للتعريف بالاسلام بمشاركة نخبة من العلماء والمفكرين خلال #كأس_العالم_قطر_2022 .. والإعلانات تنتشر في كل مكان مجانا كما هي في #ازدان مول الذي سخّرت إدارته إمكاناتها لإنجاح هذا الحدث .. pic.twitter.com/6Ul0rxXrWg
— جابر الحرمي (@jaberalharmi) November 19, 2022
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.
Qatar World Cup so far:
1. Invited extremist preacher banned from Britain to preach to Muslim fans 🇬🇧
2. Banned Jewish worship ✡️
3. Banned Kosher food
4. Banned beer 🍻
5. Banned one love armband 🏳️🌈
This is the most discriminatory event in the history of sport.#WorldCup2022
— Ghanem Nuseibeh (@gnuseibeh) November 21, 2022
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.
1) India: Accused of money laundering. Many arrested for ISIS links got inspired by Naik
2) Sri Lanka: Hashim (leader of NTJ– group behind Easter bombings) praised Naik
3) Bangladesh: 2016 Dhaka attack terrorists inspired by Naik
Qatar invites him in FIFA World Cup pic.twitter.com/AVrXVSULUq
— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) November 20, 2022
And he wouldn't be the only one of his kind there.
“Moderate” #Qatar has reunited two radical preachers to spread hatred during #WorldcupQatar2022
Soo cute! https://t.co/ZzKy5RwPGt
— Nervana Mahmoud (@Nervana_1) November 27, 2022
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”.
مشجّعات في #مونديال_قطر يجرّبن الحجاب لأول مرّة في حياتهن. #لوسيل #↑ #أبق أحمد بن راشد بن سعيّد (@LoveLiberty_2) November 23, 2022
دعوة الناس إلى الإسلام ضمن فعاليات #كأس_العالم
من أعظم الأعمال وأجل الطاعات، فقد كان ﷺ يفرح ويسر لإسلام واحد فكيف بإسلام المئات والآلاف .
— د.محمد ضاوي العصيمي (@dr_alosimi) November 20, 2022
The World Cup in Qatar has been taking place since Sunday, November 20, 2022. It will end on December 18, 2022 .