After David Beckham signed a deal to represent Qatar in the upcoming FIFA World Cup, Qatar’s only openly gay public figure petitioned the former footballer to speak out about the country’s punitive anti-LGBTQ+ laws, which can include execution in some regions. Beckham’s response was to block him on Instagram.
Dr. Nas Mohamed, a physician, is considered to be the first Qatari man (at least, the first with a platform) to come out publicly as gay. In order to avoid persecution, he had to seek asylum in the US. He was dismayed when he saw that Beckham had signed a £150 million deal with FIFA to become “the face of Qatar” for the World Cup taking place there, even more so when the former footballer filmed a number of well-produced tourist videos, describing the country as “perfection.”
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Dr. Mohamed responded with an open letter last week. “You are stamping out hope for the LGBT community in Qatar,” he wrote. “You show up… take money and look the other way. Furthermore, you send a message that there is truly no chance for us to escape our current persecution and live freely.”
He continued, “This whitewashing of the persecution of the LGBT community in Qatar does not just erase the pain of those suffering from it, but also undermines their pleas for asylum when they do escape. After all, if David Beckham describes Qatar as ‘perfection’, how bad could it really be?”
Dr. Mohamed pleaded with Beckham to stand up for human rights, saying, “Qatar’s LGBT+ community lives in fear for their lives. LGBT individuals in Qatar are at an increased risk of social rejection, honor killings, ‘conversion therapy’ and so much more.”
When he did not receive a response, he followed up with an Instagram message to Beckham and was summarily blocked. “I was quite shocked just to get a reaction because I’ve been ignored completely by FIFA, FIFA officials, World Cup officials and my own government,” Dr. Mohamed told Metro.
“It’s not only shocking, it’s frightening that they are so engaged with the deal they are doing that they don’t want to hear the message,” he said.
“A few months into this I was exhausted and frankly this is the fuel I need for my fire, I will continue to speak up. The gay community in Qatar has been sending me messages saying how they feel upset and defeated.
“That’s exactly what I said in my letter to Beckham, he’s crushing hope with the deal he has made, and then follows it by blocking the only publicly known LGBT person from the country.”
Shortly after Dr. Mohamed’s story hit the news, Beckham unblocked him. He wrote to Beckham again on Instagram (publicly this time), “Thank you, David Beckham, for unblocking me after I put it in the press.
“Now I expect us to have a conversation about what is going on. I am waiting.”