With reporting from Riham Sheble
After two years of fighting for wages and better treatment, French-Algerian footballer Zahir Belounis is being granted permission to leave Qatar.
The 33-year-old of Algerian descent, who was in Qatar under a five-year contract with Al Jaish SC, filed a lawsuit against the club in February over 18 months of unpaid wages. He was told at that time that he would not be granted an exit permit unless he dropped the case, which he has refused to do.
Speaking to Doha News today, Belounis confirmed that he is awaiting an exit permit to be granted to him on Monday, when government offices open after Eid holidays. He declined to comment further on his case, only saying: “Until I get to the airport, I won’t believe it.”
In an interview with Doha News late last month, Belounis, who is here with his wife and two daughters, said:
“I want to go back to my country and to see justice served here. I believe I will win because I did not do anything wrong. I do not think I can forgive those who destroyed my life and career, but I can try to make peace with it. Just let me go back home. Nothing can compensate me for the look in my daughter’s eyes when she asks me to buy her a toy and I cannot because I have no money because I have been prevented exercising my basic right to work and earn a living.
But as I said, at this point, I just want to leave. My life has turned into a nightmare. I cannot think about tomorrow or the future of my daughters. I just want out of here.”
In an effort to make it back to France, Belounis has told his story to CNN, the Independent and others, including French President François Hollande, who tried but did not succeed in helping with his case during a visit to Qatar in June.
Human rights groups have also been working on getting Belounis out of Qatar. Speaking to Doha News, Nicholas McGeehan of Human Rights Watch said he was pleased about the development, but added that many others continue to be stuck here without permission to leave.
“We welcome the news that Zahir Belounis will be allowed to leave Qatar, but he is not the only person trapped in the country as a result of the pointless exit visa system, and until Qatar abolishes that system its claims on migrant worker reform cannot be taken seriously.”
Qatar’s restrictive sponsorship system has been in the spotlight over the past month due to media reports about labor abuses among low-income expats and higher profile cases like that of Belounis and three other Frenchmen.
and he should consider himself lucky to leave without being paid, hum?
That’s Qatar! No rights for foreigners. Labours abuse… & so one SLAVETRADERS!!!
And yet the slaves keep coming?!
You know that does not make it acceptable?
Never said it was, but look at it this way; if the boyfriend is jerk and she keeps coming back to him, why would he change?
so u saying its OK for foreigners to suffer?
Is that a trick question?
Not the best analogy given recent events.
A more apt analogy would be that the jerk boyfriend keeps finding new girls to date him once he breaks up with the old ones, rather than having the same girl coming back to him time and time again. Most expats here are unaware of all the rules governing working in Qatar. Maybe they heard a bit about them beforehand, but most don’t realize ALL the rights and freedoms that they will no longer have control over.
And no matter how many times someone’s ex-girlfriends tell you that you should be careful, most starry-eyed newbies go into relationships with the “My Mohammed Is Different” attitude. And more often than not, they find out that the other folks were right all along.
There was an episode in the 5th season of Designing Women where a rich handsome client kept pursing Mary Jo so that she’d date him. She finally did, they had some wonderful amazing times, and then, few days later, he dumped her just out of the blue saying that it just wasn’t working out. Poor Mary Jo was besides herself. Then, while working in his office, she met a girl there who had the same done to her by the guy, Donald Banks (a not so subtle reference to the Donald). Turned out Donald has done that to many other girls; so many in fact that they’d started a support group. But then Mary Jo took a bolder step; Bernice had a show on a local channel, so Mary Jo went there with a picture of Donald and warned women to run the as far as they can when see him.
Just thought I’d mention that 🙂
haha you watch designing women? I hope you aren’t going to fail the gayness test the plan on bringing in 😉
Actually it’ll probably be the Will & Grace DVDs that fail me the test 😉
hahaha, I like you
I think one should expect more from a “pro” sports club when they have a legal contract. I don’t buy the bad boyfriend analogy. That is why you get married instead of just dating – a legal contract which dictates terms and gives each party rights.
With no intention of either twisting your comment or putting words in your mouth,what you’re essentially doing is justifying slavery by those who are guilty of it simply because the unfortunate individuals on the receiving end are either unaware of what they’re getting into or led to it out of desperation or both. A girlfriend coming back to the jerk boyfriend has a choice,find another guy,for a lot of these guys,it’s literally either they take it or their families starve & most of the time they are cheated into it anyways. It’s quite simple really,place yourself in their situation & perhaps you wouldn’t have come up with this daft,inane ‘jerk boyfriend’ example.
Sorry Abdulrahman, you really asked for that!
Oh it’s quite alright, don’t really care anymore 🙂
Generally, you do appear to care, don’t stop caring!
Don’t have much energy anymore; but since you wrote a nice eloquent reply, it’d be rude not reply.
I cannot say that I disagree with what you said. In fact, I cannot really say how I’d feel like if I were an expat living under the sponsorship system.
My example of the jerk was a rough analogy; it was a reply to someone (check it) and it wasn’t specifically about the case of the football player. My point was that despite this and other high profile cases (Guardian story, Al Jazeera Children, College of the North Atlantic Qatar, etc.) there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of people who are willing to come work here. I don’t know how horrible it has to get here before people decide that no amount of pay is worth putting up with the labor laws here.
I’m neither an expat or a Qatari decision maker, so all I can do is make sure the people I employ (1 person) are treated as well as I’d want to be treated.
You’re nearly there! ; )
So if your negligence causes the death of over a dozen people, it’s OK to travel, miss court dates, etc.
But if you have a disagreement about salary with a Qatari, then whoa be to you! Now that make complete sense.
Sorry to bother you, but since they closed the thread on the murder story, I had a point I wanted to share, so here goes.
In his lengthy reply to me, Ngourlay, said, in # 5 that it should be comforting to me that the former Qatari boyfriend is in Saudi, since he’s less likely to be punished for killing a woman. In # 6 he made sound as if I was blaming all or most Westerners for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Your reply to him started with “Extremely well said on all counts.”
I don’t know why, beyond the fact that I’m a Qatari, would anyone think it would be of a comfort to me that a cold blooded murder should go free. Nor have I ever, here or in real life, said that all or most Americans, Brits, etc are responsible for those wars. Nothing in my short to which he replied comment had anything to do with that.
There’s a lot more I could and want to say here, but looking at how the simplest of comments gets twisted and words are put in my mouth, there’s no point.
Thank you for reading and replying to my comments, and have a good day Sir.
Now that IS well said 🙂
Thank you, I try. By the way, how come we didn’t see you comment on the ” Test for Gay” story? It was a hoot 🙂
I had knee surgery last Monday so haven’t been around as much. Hate to have missed the erudite discussion that this issue must have provoked :-p
Fair enough. I didn’t read all his points as carefully as I should have. #5, as you describe it, is unfair. My apologies. I do think you misuse the Iraq war to make general critiques of American and the British (as I haver said before), and bring it up and irrelevant times–but that can be something for another discussion. I also think implying his posts on the thread were borderline racist and xenophobic were over the top.
As I stated, I generally agree with you. But not with most of your comments on that thread.
From previous posts of yours that I’ve read you have generally come across as open and fair. I do agree that to infer that you should be pleased that someone got away with murder because of being a similar gender and nationality is below the belt. Don’t give up on us Abulrahman. Some westerners are actually quite open minded when you get to know them.
The worst thing in this article is ‘he was granted permission to leave’
Disgusting. Qatar is not and should not be a prison
Can’t believe people would vote down my comment, I can only assume they are the people that do not need permission from their ‘owner’ to leave Qatar
ahahah! they did with mine too, so what did I say? a true observation/question? idiocy rules everywhere…who cares!
I don’t believe many expat workers really understand about the exit visa system- I know I didn’t and I am a well educated well read westerner who thought I had done my homework. It is demeaning, asking my employer for permission to leave, like saying ‘please may I use the toilet’. I am a responsible, conscientious , law abiding adult, with my home and family here in Qatar. I should have the right to come and go freely, surely, within normal international laws governing foreign workers.Other countries manage to control borders and protect internal investment. I think Qatar should reconsider this law and relegate it to the past.
Check out the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights Article 13(2)…. “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”
Maybe Qatar is excluded 🙂
What about employment change, this is another major issue in Qatar. The topic was in the newspapers last yr but you know Qatar, turn up the heat & let all things just fizzle out on their own….just creating hype to show the outside world.