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Saudi sports minister: Forced to sell alcohol at World Cup would be ‘Islamophobic’

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Who wouldn’t want to host a World Cup?” asked Saudi Sports Minister Abdulasis bin Turki al-Faisal in an interview with British broadcaster BBC. “Every country would love to host the World Cup.” However, it is unlikely that in this case alcohol is sold in the conservative Islamic kingdom. In an interview with Sky News published on Friday, Abdulasis said yes when asked whether it would be “Islamophobic” to force the sale of alcohol on an Islamic country. “The World Cup is for everyone, and we live in different regions of the world.” Unlike the Emirate of Qatar, alcohol is completely banned in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

According to the media, the kingdom is thinking hard about bidding for the 2030 World Cup along with Egypt and Greece. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has increasingly positioned itself as the organizer of international sporting events, including Formula 1 races and boxing world championships. In 2029, the desert-shaped country is also set to host the Asian Winter Games. Saudi Arabia is thus also in competition with neighboring Qatar, with whom relations are strained.

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Gay football fans are welcome in Saudi Arabia, Abdulasis told Sky News. “We don’t go around and ask: Are you gay or straight?” However, there are rules in Saudi Arabia that everyone has to follow. That also applies to alcohol. “If you can’t follow this rule, then don’t come.” A particularly conservative reading of Islam applies in Saudi Arabia. Same-sex love is strictly forbidden.

The country is generally criticized internationally for human rights violations, especially for the brutal killing of the government-critical journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He was brutally killed by a murder squad from Riyadh in 2018. Everyone in Saudi Arabia was “appalled” by the murder and condemned it, Abdulasis said. Saudi Arabia is not perfect when it comes to human rights, but has changed.

US intelligence has accused Saudi Arabia’s strongman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, of being responsible for Khashoggi’s murder. The heir to the throne has pushed ahead with numerous reforms in recent years that have opened up the country and society. Government critics continue to be massively persecuted.

Source: Nachrichten

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