The St. Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister has taken a swipe at ‘deranged and unhinged’ critics of the Qatar World Cup, including the UK, in a gushing endorsement of the first Arab country to host football’s showpiece event.
The Caribbean nation and Qatar hold friendly and diplomatic relations and prime minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said that Qatar’s staging of the 2022 World Cup underlined its “growing stature and influence in the global political economy".
Gonsalves didn’t hold back in his defence of the emirate, suggesting that the controversy surrounding Qatar’s hosting was “dressed up as high principle, is laced with Islamophobia, racism, anti-Arab sentiment, hypocrisy, and profound disrespect, derived from the notion that a small Arab country like Qatar should never aspire to global influence”.
Gonsalves, who took office in 2001, said in a statement: “It is thus unfortunate, and prejudicial to global peace, security, and progress, that Qatar has faced unjustified, even deranged and unhinged, criticisms as hosts of the World Cup, emanating from some non-governmental organisations and ‘tabloid’ journalists located in North Atlantic countries such as Britain, the United States of America, and Western Europe”.
The 76-year-old, who has reportedly made a number of official visis to Qatar, added that critics “sneer at, and mock” the region’s near three million population, with migrant workers outnumbering the 400,000 Qataris.
“The truth is that Qatar is an amazing country that is soaring to higher heights!” said Gonsalves, who has made a number of official visits to Qatar, the latest being in February.
His comments echo those made by Fifa president Gianna Infantino on the eve ot the tournament.
In an extraordinary hour-long monologue, Infantino accused Western countries of “hypocrisy” saying they were not in a position to give “moral lessons” to other nations.
Qatar was given the nod to host the World Cup by Fifa in 2010 when the Middle East nation beat off the rival bids from the United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan.
Qatar has since been hit by controversy over its human rights record and laws banning same-sex relationships, with those found guilty potentially facing the death sentence or lengthy jail terms.
Gonsalves added: “Qatar is pilloried for its restrictions on alcohol consumption; its opposition to homosexuality, and sexual permissiveness; its stance against wanton abortion; its embrace of Islamic values unconnected absolutely to any form of homicidal violence; its tightly-knit family systems; its rejection of a future decreed by the cultural tsars of western modernity with their nihilistic project and jaundiced relativism; and its promotion of Arab nationalism within an appropriate universal space.”
Gonsalves also listed eight points of ‘impressive achievements’, including its ranking as ‘world’s safest country’, its history of staging global sporting events, and a “very high level of civilisation”.
“Qatar is a force for good in our difficult and complex world,” he added. “We are friends of all, we strive for a better world. Let World Cup 2022 go on without the mountain of humbug by the hypocritical critics.”
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