Authorities in Qatar have seized a line of what they called “un-Islamic” children’s toys that feature rainbow designs similar to LGBT flags.
The small, oil-rich peninsula will host the FIFA World Cup next year, and despite repeated claims by authorities that everyone will be welcome for the tournament, homosexuality remains illegal in the conservative Muslim emirate.
The range of rainbow-coloured children’s toys were confiscated from stores, with officials saying they ran counter to “Islamic values”.
Authorities in Qatar seized a line of what they called ‘un-Islamic’ children’s toys which feature rainbow designs similar to LGBT flags (pictured)
The emirate’s Ministry of Trade and Industry did not specify its objection to the rainbow colors, but some of the toys carried a color scheme very similar to the LGBTQ flag.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry “carried out inspection campaigns in several outlets in different regions of Qatar”, it said on Twitter.
“The campaigns resulted in the seizure and release of several violations, including the confiscation of children’s toys bearing slogans contrary to Islamic values.”
The tweet was accompanied by photos of rubber stress balls and other rainbow-colored toys.
“The ministry urges all citizens and residents to report any products bearing logos or designs contrary to our traditions,” he said in a separate statement to the official QNA news agency.
There was no immediate response from the Qatari authorities to requests from the new AFP agency to elaborate on the reasons for the seizures.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry “carried out inspection campaigns in several outlets in different regions of Qatar”, he said on Twitter (pictured). “The campaigns resulted in the seizure and release of several violations, including the confiscation of children’s toys bearing slogans contrary to Islamic values.”
Qatar’s rights record has been in the spotlight since being chosen as the host of the 2022 World Cup in 2010.
In November, the English Football Association assured LGBTQ+ fans that they would be welcome in the country for the World Cup, with Qatar appearing to soften its anti-LGBTQ+ stance for the tournament, saying rainbow flags sky would be allowed.
But there are fears of possible repercussions for LGBT+ Qataris – who could fly such flags during the tournament – once the World Cup is over.
Amnesty International has accused the Football Association of failing to engage with it over human rights abuses in Qatar – unlike associations in other countries – with a spokesperson saying they have not spoken to the FA since 2020.
But the FA said last month it was “categorically incorrect” to say there had been no dialogue since March 2020, adding: “We are in dialogue with Amnesty as well as with FIFA, UEFA, other member associations and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
The country’s attitude towards LGBTQ+ rights was in the spotlight earlier in December when football pundit Mohamed Aboutrika, a former Egypt international, launched the offensive tirade on beIN Sports – a channel owned and operated by Qatar.
He also criticized the Premier League’s Rainbow Laces campaign supporting the LGBTQ+ community, calling on Muslim players to boycott it.
Aboutrika said “such a phenomenon does not correspond to our faith and it does not correspond to our religion”, adding that it is “not only against the nature of Islam, but also against human nature”.
The conditions of the tens of thousands of migrant workers who build the tournament’s infrastructure have received particular attention, alongside LGBTQ+ rights. Pictured: Lusail Stadium, host venue for the opening match and final of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, on December 5
A conservative estimate of 6,500 migrant workers – mostly from South Asia – died building the tournament stadiums in sweltering conditions. Pictured: Workers lay the turf inside the Lusail Stadium, venue for the Qatar 2022 World Cup final, on November 18
He added: “They will tell you that homosexuality is a human right. No, it’s not human rights – in fact, it’s against humanity. He was not challenged on his views and will not be disciplined or sacked.
Nasser Al-Khelaifi, a friend of English legend David Beckham, is the chairman of beIN Sports. The channel, which is effectively run by the Qatari state, also holds exclusive rights to the World Cup next year.
BeIN declined to criticize Aboutrika for its comments, but said, “As a global media group, we represent and support people, causes and interests from all walks of life, languages and cultural heritages.”
David Beckham has also come under fire from human rights groups after signing a £10m+ deal to be the Gulf state’s ambassador.
The conditions of the tens of thousands of migrant workers who build the tournament’s infrastructure have received particular attention, alongside LGBTQ+ rights.
A conservative estimate of 6,500 migrant workers – mostly from South Asia – died building the tournament stadiums in sweltering conditions.
In March, Amnesty International wrote to FIFA President Gianni Infantino urging football’s governing body to increase pressure on Qatar over its human rights record.