DOHA (Middle East Eye) – A French cartoon has caused outrage on social media for its “racist and Islamophobic” portrayal of the Qatar national football team ahead of the World Cup set to kick off in Doha later this month.
Published last month by the French newspaper Le Canard enchaîné, the caricature uses stereotypical depictions of Arab men as long-bearded, angry, masked and carrying all kinds of weapons from machetes and guns to rocket launchers. A player with the famous number 10 shirt was portrayed wearing a suicide vest.
The satirical weekly has been criticized by many Twitter users who suggested the illustrations reflect a racist pattern in western criticism of Arabs and Qataris ahead of the World Cup, namely in the French press.
“France gonna France,” one user said.
Among those who flocked to criticize the cartoon was the Qatari minister of state and president of the Qatar National Library, Hamad al-Kawari, who urged the paper to at least show “some sportsmanship”.
“Even harsh satire is welcome!!! But Le Canard enchaîné decided to resort to lies, hatred and resentment to attack Qatar and denigrate it,” al-Kawari said.
The newspaper was also criticized by some for Islamophobic undertones in the cartoons. For example, some users pointed to the drawings of Muslim women on the front page of the October issue, where they are depicted wearing a full-body black covering.
“It is not new to them, as they have already mocked and insulted the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, in almost the same manner,” one user said, referring to previous controversial cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in French media.
“A despicable cartoon published by Le Canard Enchaîné that exposes its true racism and anti-Muslim hate,” said another person.
The online reaction to the cartoons comes amid growing frustrations among Qataris over mounting criticism of the country’s alleged human rights abuses in international media ahead of the World Cup.