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French cartoon of Qatari footballers ahead of World Cup sparks outrage

A French newspaper has published a cartoon depicting Qatar’s national football team as “terrorists”, sparking outrage across the Gulf country.

The lampooning caricature comes days before Qatar is set to host FIFA World Cup 2022 this month, becoming the first Arab and Middle East country to organize the global tournament.

The offensive image published by Le Canard Enchaîné in its October issue shows seven bearded men apparently wearing football jerseys bearing the word “Qatar. They appear to be chasing a football in the sand while carrying machetes, guns and rocket launchers.

One of the men in the cartoon wears a belt laden with explosives. Five are wearing blue robes and two are wearing black shirts and pants with balaclavas covering their faces.

It termed the Gulf state as an “authoritarian emirate” that enacts laws “to dominate women”.

The French caricature has invited a storm of condemnation on social media platforms.

“Le Canard Enchaîné published a despicable cartoon showing its blatant racism and hatred,” a Twitter user said. “They describe Qatar as an authoritarian emirate and its national team as terrorists.”

Qatar is set to host World Cup from Nov. 20 through Dec. 18. The country, however, came under fire since it was awarded the event in 2010, mainly on alleged mistreatment of migrant workers and its human rights records.

Last month, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani slammed the “unprecedented campaign” of criticism against the Gulf country in the lead-up to the World Cup.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani also denounced criticism of the Gulf country’s hosting of the World Cup as “hypocrisy”.

“I think there are some people who don’t accept that a small country in the Middle East is hosting such a global event,” bin Abdulrahman said in an interview with Le Monde newspaper.

"The reasons given for boycotting the World Cup do not add up. There is a lot of hypocrisy in these attacks, which ignore all that we have achieved," he added.

*Writing by Ahmed Asmar

Source: Anadolu Agency