French newspaper portrays Qatar football team as terrorists, sparking outrage

A cartoon published in a French newspaper depicting Qatari football players as terrorists has sparked outrage on social media with many users calling it “racist” and “blatant Islamophobia”.

The cartoon was published by Le Canard Enchainé and depicts seven bearded men with “Qatar” written across their chests above numbers. They appear to be chasing a football in the sand while carrying machetes, guns and rocket launchers.

One also wears a belt laden with explosives. Five are wearing blue robes and two are wearing black shirts and pants with balaclavas covering their faces.

Five men in white robes are on the sidelines, looking on. It also called the Gulf state an “authoritarian emirate” that enacts laws “to dominate women”.

According to one Twitter user: “Le Canard Enchaîné published a despicable cartoon showing its blatant racism and hatred of Islam” adding that “they describe Qatar as an authoritarian emirate and its national team as terrorists.”

Another user posted that the cartoon is testimony to France’s hatred and contempt for Qatar, its people and its government.

“I wonder why the Qatari ambassador is still in Paris???!!!” another user posted.

Qatar is set to host the World Cup from 20 November to 18 December but has come under increased scrutiny and attack as a result of its human rights record, Middle East Monitor reported.

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 slammed critics and said: “I think there are some people who don’t accept that a small country in the Middle East is hosting such a global event.”

A history of provocation

French media outlets have received backlash from Muslim countries in the past over offensive cartoons – including the Charlie Hebdo incident which saw the magazine publish a caricature of Prophet Mohammed.

This led to the 2015 attack on the magazine’s offices which left 12 people dead.

Charlie Hebdo republished the cartoon in 2020, with the title “All of this, just for that”.

After Charlie Hebdo republished the cartoon in 2020, protesters in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan publicly burned the French flag.