Debate sparks online over latest controversy surrounding Qatar and LGBQT+.
Mixed reactions have been expressed by social media users after authorities announced the seizure of toys for “bearing slogans that go against Islamic values”, in an apparent reference to products deemed to promote an LGBTQ agenda.
An inspection campaign launched by Qatar’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry has led to the confiscation of a number of toys, authorities noted on Monday, pointing to an image of rainbow-coloured poppits that have recently become popular with children.
“MOCIQATAR carried out inspection campaigns on several retail outlets in different regions across #Qatar, the campaigns resulted in the seizure and release of several violations, including the confiscation of children’s toys bearing slogans that go against Islamic values,” the ministry said in statement with an image of a popular rainbow-coloured fidget toys.
The ministry cited an updated law that stipulates “practicing commercial activities and distributing goods and services must take place while maintaining respect for the values of Islam, and with adherence to the customs and traditions of Qatari Society”.
Authorities called on the public to report “any goods bearing logos or designs contrary to customs and traditions and specify their locations so that the ministry’s inspectors can take the necessary measures.”
The news was met with mixed reactions on social media, with some mocking the move while others applauding authorities for cracking down on symbols they saw to be against the norms and cultures of the state.
“Well done government. People should respect the rules of this country,” one Instagram user commented, while another said “yes, this is the right way to go”.
Meanwhile, another user described the move as “illogical”.
“Withdrawing such products for bearing the colours of the rainbow and issuing it as violation is unreasonable,” the social media user said. “The LGBTQ community has more than 21 official flags that come in different shapes and colours. There’s more reasonable ways to deal with this issue”.
“If we withdraw all these products from the market, then we won’t be able to find clothes to wear” attaching a number of the flags to a tweet.
In a comment that has since been re-shared several times online, one person asked if such action would be taken against popular condensed milk company ‘Rainbow’ – whose logo is also clearly shown on its tinned cans.
On Instagram, one person noted other priorities than rainbows.
“There are more important issues that should concern the government rather than LGTBQ flag colors. There are some children’s toys like cars and guns that promote Israeli songs,” he claimed.
“It’s a rainbow. Some people are just trying to find fault in anything,” one person said, as another said mockingly questioned “what happens if it rains and a rainbow forms in the sky? Will they seize that too?”
“They are supposed to seize items that are suggestive, not just rainbow-coloured. This just makes non-Muslims get the wrong idea about Islamic values,” another Instagram user added.
One person pointed out that “these are sensory toys for children meaning they should come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Linking these toys what is considered harmful by certain people is so pointless”.
Officials in Qatar have on several occasions addressed concerns over LGBQT issues in the country.
Most recently, Qatari official, Nasser Al Khater said in a CNN interview that Qatar is a welcoming country and “nobody feels threatened here, nobody feels unsafe here.”
“Listen, public display of affection is frowned upon, and that goes across the board – across the board,” the official said, emphasising that this even extends to same sex and married couples.
“Qatar is a modest country. That’s all that needs to be respected. Other than that, everyone is free to live their life.
“They [gay people] will be coming to Qatar as fans of a football tournament. They can do whatever any other human being would do. What I’m saying is Qatar, from a public-display-of-affection factor, is conservative.”