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They should stop lecturing India on trade relations and religious tolerance

Zakir Naik’s name has appeared in several terrorist activities linked to the Islamic State. PTI

“Today I have very strong feelings. Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today ‘today I feel disabled. Today I feel like a migrant worker. I feel like them because I know what it feels like to be discriminated against, to be bullied as a foreigner in a country. At school, I was bullied because I had red hair and freckles.

These words of wisdom were part of FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s opening statements when he addressed the media on the eve of the World Cup in Qatar. This speech was a bizarre and laudable attempt to defend FIFA’s decision to hold one of its most important events in a country notorious for its sponsorship of terrorism and human rights abuses.

From Qatar Charity being one of many funding sources for Al-Qaeda to sponsoring the Al-Nusra Front in Syria and members of the Qatari Royal Family running a safe house for the founder of Al-Qaeda in Iraq ( AQI), the predecessor of ISIS, to Qatar being the largest donor to Hamas, Qatar’s contribution to global terrorism is no news to anyone.

Qatar is also under scrutiny for the working conditions of migrant workers dubbed “modern-day slavery” for their inadequate wages and unfair trials. According to a Guardian report, more than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup more than a decade ago . Qatari laws discriminate against women and LGBT people, with flogging and the death penalty being the norm for blasphemy and apostasy.

Demonstrating its commitment to sponsoring the terrorist agenda, Qatar has decided to welcome Indian fugitive radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, not only as a spectator but also as a speaker to deliver sermons to the public throughout the tournament. Zakir Naik is known for spreading hate propaganda and creating communal divisions in society through his inflammatory speeches. He is wanted in India for hate speech, money laundering and links to terrorism. In 2016 he defected to Malaysia, where he was banned again in 2019 for racial hate speech against Hindus and Malaysian Chinese. Qatar previously summoned Indian envoy to explain controversial remarks by Indian leader in name of ‘respect’ for all religions; however, inviting a known propagandist of hate speech as a dignitary during the FIFA World Cup only shows his blatant hypocrisy on the world stage.

What it also shows is that the Western world’s supposed commitment to human rights and liberal values ​​takes a back seat when commercial interests take the wheel. European powers have questioned Indian dignitaries about India’s trade relations with Russia, citing the latter’s human rights record, both domestically and internationally. At the same time, Europe is not only buying gas from Russia, but also closing in on Qatar, where the human rights record and terrorist ties are as bright as day.

With a proven resource of 23.8 trillion cubic meters, Qatar has the second largest gas reserves in the world behind Russia, making it a major player in the global gas market. The war in Ukraine severely affected Russian gas supplies to Europe. Now winter is coming. Is the 2022 FIFA World Cup a botched attempt to whitewash Qatar’s image on the world stage, to justify its trade relations with Europe?

The FIFA President, who has a complicated relationship with words, added these ideas to his speech, he said: “I don’t have to defend Qatar, I defend football and injustice. We see many government officials here coming to Qatar. They all come because a country that only has sand and pearls turns out to have something much more, it’s gas. If there was no gas, no one would care. Now they all come and they all want something and who actually cares about the workers. Who? FIFA yes, the World Cup yes and, to be fair to them, Qatar too.”

The offices of the European Union Delegation were inaugurated in Doha in September 2022, which allowed the EU to appoint a Head of Mission and an Ambassador to Qatar with the aim of developing long-term strategic agreements. France’s Total Energy has signed a cooperation agreement with Qatar Energy for $1.5 billion, making it the largest shareholder in Qatar’s northern field. Germany followed a similar path, establishing long-term energy cooperation with Qatar, diversifying its energy supply.

Additionally, Qatar has signed a 27-year natural gas supply agreement with China, making it the world’s longest gas supply agreement in history, which could be another reason for which Europe is struggling to cover up the sins of Qatar. This is part of QatarEnergy’s North Field expansion plan which will increase Qatar’s liquefaction capacity to 126 million tonnes per year by 2027 from 77 million.

This will potentially make it easier for Europe to buy Russian gas through China without appearing to buy Russian gas at face value. “If Europe buys LNG from China, then yes, some of it could be Russian, if it’s blended in particular,” said Anna Mikulska of the Center for Energy Studies at the Baker Institute for Public Policy in Rice University. there’s no rule of origin for content — ultimately it’s always a matter of moving volumes really,” she added.

Despite their appalling human rights record, Europe has the legal right to buy gas from Russia or Qatar or both to meet its energy needs; likewise, with all its draconian laws and sponsorship of terrorism, Qatar as a sovereign nation has the right to host a radical Islamist hate preacher on its soil, but the least that Europe and Qatar can do is stop lecturing India on Trade Relations and Religious Tolerance.

The author is particularly interested in history, culture and geopolitics. He is a proponent of religious reform and identifies himself as “an Indian Muslim exploring Vedic knowledge and cultural heritage through music”. When he’s not writing reviews, he enjoys drumming and rapping. The opinions expressed are personal.

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