Rainbow flags can be worn to protect fans

DOHA – Rainbow flags can be removed from World Cup fans in Qatar to protect them from being attacked for promoting gay rights, a senior leader overseeing tournament security told The Associated Press.

Divisional General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari insisted that LGBTQ couples would be welcomed and accepted in Qatar by November 21 and December. 18 Fifa despite same-sex relationships continue to be criminalized in the conservative Gulf nation.

But Al Ansari is opposed to the open promotion of LGBTQ freedoms, symbolized by the rainbow flag that FIFA and World Cup organizers had previously said would be welcomed in Qatar’s eight stadiums.

“If he (an amateur) raised the rainbow flag and I took it off, it’s not because he really wants to, really, take it, to insult him, but to protect him,” Al Ansari told the AP. “Because if it’s not me, someone around me could attack him … I can’t guarantee the behavior of all the people. And I’m going to say, ‘Please, you don’t really have to raise that flag right now.'”


Al Ansari is director of the Department of International Cooperation and chairman of the National Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Interior Ministry, where he discussed World Cup planning for an hour with the PA.

“He wants to show his opinion on the situation (LGBTQ), show it in a society where it is accepted,” he said. “We realize that this man got the ticket, he comes here to see the party, not to protest, a political (act) or something that is on his mind.

“Look at the party. That’s good. But don’t go in and insult the whole society for it.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in Doha this week that “everyone will see that everyone is welcome here in Qatar, even if we talk about LGBTQ.”

Al Ansari said he was not telling LBGTQ fans to stay away from Qatar or warning them to be prosecuted.

“Booking the room together, sleeping together – that’s something we don’t care about,” he said. “We are here to manage the tournament. Let’s not go beyond the individual personal things that may be going on between these people … this is actually the concept.


“We can’t change the laws here. You can’t change your religion for 28 days in the World Cup.”

When it was pointed out that fans and visiting teams could offend the comments, Al Ansari said it was not considered discriminatory.

“I’m risking … a minority view against a majority,” he said. “We have to be close to the problem before it explodes and gets out of control. … If someone attacks you, then I have to get involved and it will be too late.”

FIFA’s head of social responsibility and education, Joyce Cook, told the AP in 2020 that “rainbow flags and T-shirts will be welcome at the stadium, that’s a fact. They understand very well that’s our position.” World Cup chief executive Nasser Al-Khater has also said he will “respect” FIFA’s guidelines on allowing rainbow flags.

But Al Ansari’s comments on the confiscation of rainbow flags from fans have caused confusion among activists, including Chris Paouros, a member of the English Football Association’s inclusion advisory board and administrator of the anti-discrimination group Kick It Out. a safe and secure service. inclusive tournament.


“This inconsistency and the continuing lack of detail as to how it will be offered beyond the ‘everyone is welcome’ rhetoric is at least worrisome,” Paouros said.

The FARE network, which monitors games for discrimination, has called for respect for the freedoms of fans at the World Cup.

“The idea that the flag, which is now a recognized universal symbol of diversity and equality, will be removed from people to protect them will not be considered acceptable and will be seen as a pretext,” said FARE Executive Director Piara Powar. “I have been to Qatar on numerous occasions and I do not expect the local people of Qatar or the fans visiting the World Cup to be attacked for carrying the rainbow flag. The greatest danger comes from the actions of the state.”


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Rainbow flags can be worn to protect fans

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