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FIFA World Cup in Qatar Kicks Off Amid Criticism
Plus: Iran government cracks down on Kurd population amid protests, and Turkey plans to target Kurds in Iraq and Syria
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The 2022 World Cup in Qatar kicked off on Sunday, November 20, amid critics against the violation of human rights issues perpetrated by Qatar toward migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community.
In recent years, NGOs and international actors raised issues over FIFA's decision to make Qatar the place for the 2022 World Cup.
In particular, the international community reported human rights violations against the LGBTQ+ community, including detentions and beatings.
Sexual acts of male homosexuality are, in fact, illegal in Qatar and are punished with up to three years in prison and a fine.
Germany players covered their mouths with their hands as they posed for a team photo ahead of the FIFA World Cup game against Japan on Wednesday, November 23, following the denial of the Qatari authorities to let football players wear the 'OneLove' armband during the match.
The 'OneLove' campaign was set up to encourage inclusivity and diversity within football and wider society.
Furthermore, international institutions have criticized Qatar for the working condition of thousands of migrants that have contributed to building stadiums and all necessary facilities and infrastructures to host the FIFA World Cup.
But ever since the announcement of Qatar as the host of the World Cup in 2022, it has sparked huge controversy concerning the country's human rights record and attitudes towards homosexuality.
The sponsorship, or kafala, is a system that defines the relationship between foreign workers and their local sponsor, which is usually their employer.
Do you want to know more about Kafala?
This system is the main access for migrants to the labor market in many countries in the Middle East.
The Guardian last year reported that at least 6,500 migrant workers have died since Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup.
However, the Qatar government has said the number is misleading as not all the deaths recorded were of people working on World Cup-related projects.
It said many of those who died had worked in Qatar for several years and could have died from old age or other natural causes.
Meanwhile, Iranians continue to take to the street to protest against the government. Iran has entered the second month of the anti-government demonstrations across the country, and the crackdown on protests has intensified in Kurdish areas of the country.
Iranian authorities are mainly targeting Iran's largely-marginalized Kurdish communities since protests broke out in mid-September, when an Iranian Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, died in police custody for a clothing violation.
The anti-government protest arrived in Doha when Iran's national men's soccer team refused to sing the country's national anthem at the World Cup on Monday, November 21. This was perceived as an act of defiance against their government, which has become the target of the protests.
But while the Kurdish population in Iran is facing the government's repression, the Kurds in Syria and Iraq will face massive attacks from Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a possible ground offensive in northern Syria and Iraq this week after Ankara's forces launched cross-border air raids on what they said were locations used by Kurdish groups they blame for a bombing in central Istanbul.
Erdogan said Turkey's ongoing military campaign in northern Syria and northern Iraq "is not limited to just an air operation" and could involve ground forces.
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My name is Dario Sabaghi, a freelance journalist. I am interested in human rights and international news focusing on the MENA region.
Check out my work at dariosabaghi.com.
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Cover photo: Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images - The Scotsman