Qatari official: Rainbow flags could be carried to protect fans


A senior Qatari official overseeing World Cup security tells The Associated Press that rainbow flags could be removed from fans

DOHA, Qatar — Rainbow flags could be removed from supporters at the World Cup in Qatar to protect them from attacks for promoting gay rights, a senior official with responsibility for gay rights has told The Associated Press. tournament security.

Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari insisted that LGBTQ couples would be welcome and accepted in Qatar from November 21 to December 21. 18 FIFA showpiece despite same-sex relationships still criminalized in the conservative Gulf nation.

But Al Ansari is against the overt promotion of LGBTQ freedoms, symbolized by the rainbow flag that FIFA and World Cup organizers have previously said are welcome at Qatar’s eight stadiums.

“If he (a fan) raised the rainbow flag and I took it from him, it’s not because I really, really want to take it, really insult him, but to protect him. “, Al Ansari told the AP. “Because if it’s not me, someone else around him could attack (him)… I can’t guarantee everyone’s behavior. And I’ll be like, ‘Please, no need to really raise that flag at this point.’

Al Ansari is director of the International Cooperation Department and chairman of the National Counterterrorism Committee at the Interior Ministry where he discussed World Cup planning for an hour with the AP.

“You want to demonstrate your point of view on the (LGBTQ) situation, demonstrate it in a society where it will be accepted,” he said. “We realize that this man has had the ticket, is coming here to watch the match, not to demonstrate, a political (act) or something that goes through his head.

“Look at the game. It’s good. But don’t really come and insult the whole society because of it.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said this week in Doha 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 face lawsuits.

“Book the room together, sleep together – that’s something that doesn’t concern us,” he said. “We are here to manage the tournament. Let’s not go beyond that, the individual personal things that might happen between these people…that’s actually the concept.

“Here, we cannot change the laws. You cannot change religion for 28 World Cup days.

When it was pointed out that fans and visiting teams might take offense to the comments, Al Ansari said he did not consider himself to be discriminatory.

“I risk … a minority opinion against a majority,” he said. “We need to be close to the problem before it erupts and spirals out of control. … If someone attacks you, I have to interfere and it will be too late.

Joyce Cook, head of social responsibility and education at FIFA, told the AP in 2020 that “rainbow flags, t-shirts will all be welcome in the stadium – that’s An evidence. They understand very well that this is our position. World Cup chief executive Nasser Al-Khater also said “we will respect” FIFA’s guidelines on allowing rainbow flags.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports



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