‘Human rights only for some’: Western media called out for turning blind eye to pro-Palestine pitch invader

The issue has yet again highlighted apparent double standards in Western reporting.

Western media has come under fire for what many described as “bias” in reporting on the LGBTQ+ pitch invader while appearing to turn a blind eye to his pro-Palestine counterpart on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, an Italian man, identified as Mario Ferri, invaded the pitch during a match between Portugal and Uruguay while waving the community’s rainbow flag. 

Ferri also wore a shirt saying “Save Ukraine” on the front and “Respect for Iranian Woman” on the back. He was then briefly detained and was released moments later unharmed, according to a statement by the Italian foreign ministry that was sent to the AFP.

The story was quick to garner attention from Western media, as well as from activists who also took aim at Qatar’s LGBTQ+ stance, despite the Gulf state repeatedly stressing its openness to all audiences.

The following day, a Tunisian pitch invader carrying the Palestinian flag made a phenomenal entry into the field with a cartwheel. Roaring fans at the Education City stadium, already carrying Palestine’s flag, collectively cheered him on with passionate pro-Palestine chants. Fans and players also supported the man, who has yet to be identified, as he was escorted from the area.

The incident gained no attention from Western media, despite being parallel to Tuesday’s episode. Both incidents displayed what has been widely slammed as double standards by Western media and pundits, as they appeared to disregard the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and daily oppression by the Israeli regime.

Some have also pointed to the hypocrisy over human rights, where the occupation of Palestine would not make it to headlines in comparison to other issues, namely the war in Ukraine.

“Exhibit F. Here is how you know Western pundits and commentators don’t care about universal human rights at the World Cup in Qatar but will signal that they care about some,” Ayman Mohyeldin, MSNBC host, said in an Instagram post.

Mohyeldin added that “not a single major Western media outlet” wrote about the Tunisian invader nor did prominent commentators post about him nor did he receive any praise like the LGBTQ+ activist.

“He [Ferri] was hailed as being brave for highlighting the ‘dystopian” World Cup’. Human rights for some, not for all,” the prominent host added.

Other social media users joined in the commentary on the issue, noting the lack of Western coverage of the second incident.

“Is any of the media gonna talk about the pitch invader holding a Palestine flag or does that not matter?” one Twitter user said.

Another added: “The bias of [the] media is showcased at this FIFA WorldCup Qatar 2022. The media lashed into primetime publicity of the pitch invader waving the LGBTQ flag during the Portugal vs. Uruguay match. However, the pitch invader waving a Palestine flag during France vs. Tunisia didn’t get any form of coverage.”

Qatar criticism

In the lead-up to the World Cup and during the tournament, Qatar continued to face criticism over its stance on the LGBTQ+ community and alleged abuses of migrant workers.

Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Al-Kaabi told German newspaper, Bild, on Wednesday that the LGBTQ community are welcome to attend the tournament. He noted that the West is not entitled to “dictate” how Qataris should think.

“If you want to change me so that I will say that I believe in LGBTQ, that my family should be LGBTQ, that I accept LGBTQ in my country, that I change my laws and the Islamic laws in order to satisfy the West – then this is not acceptable,” Al Kaabi added.

Asked about the attendance of members of the LGBTQ community at the World Cup, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in May said “everybody is welcome in Doha”.

“We do not stop anybody from coming to Doha with any different backgrounds, any different beliefs, Qatar is a very welcoming country,” the amir told the press during his visit to Berlin.

Sheikh Tamim added that the country already welcomes “millions” of visitors and the World Cup serves as “a great opportunity” for people all over the world to experience the Qatari culture.

“We welcome everybody, but also we expect and we want people to respect our culture,” said the Qatari leader.

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