'German arrogance' towards Qatar called out by former foreign minister

'German arrogance' towards Qatar called out by former foreign minister
Sigmar Gabriel, who served as German foreign minister from 2017 to 2018, said the United Nations and International Labour Organisation 'praise [Qatar] for its reforms. Only we Germans insult it every day.'
2 min read
01 November, 2022
Sigmar Gabriel is a former Social Democratic Party leader [Muhammed Enes Yildirim/Anadolu Agency/Getty-archive]

"German arrogance" towards Qatar has been called out by one of Berlin's previous foreign ministers.

Sigmar Gabriel, who tweeted his criticism on Saturday, served as foreign minister for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) from 2017 to 2018 during a coalition headed by then-Chancellor Angela Merkel.

His comments touched on LGBTQ+ and workers' rights, issues Qatar has been heavily attacked over in the run-up to its hosting of the 2022 football World Cup.

"How forgetful are we? Homosexuality was a punishable offence in Germany until 1994," Gabriel said, according to the Doha News website.

"My mother still needed her husband's permission to work. We treated 'guest workers' crappy and housed them miserably."

The former SPD leader added that it "took [Germany] decades to become a liberal country", saying "progress does not come overnight, but step by step".

Gabriel said: "The UN, the ILO [International Labour Organization] praise the country for its reforms. Only we Germans insult it every day."

The football World Cup will begin in Qatar on 20 November, the first to take place in the Arab world.


Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani last week hit out at an "unprecedented campaign" of criticism over the competition.

"Since we won the honour of hosting the World Cup, Qatar has faced an unprecedented campaign that no other host nation has received," he said.

Many football and political analysts have pointed out that Russia allegedly faced less criticism of its hosting of the World Cup in international media despite its invasion of Crimea, the bombing of Syria, and repression of journalists and activists.

Sheikh Tamim said Qatar had initially accepted negative commentary "in good faith" and "even considered that some criticism was positive and useful, helping us to develop aspects that need to be developed".

He added that much of the criticism now is based on false reports and fabrications.

"But it soon became clear to us that the campaign continues, expands and includes fabrications and double standards, until it reached an amount of ferocity that made many wonder, unfortunately, about the real reasons and motives behind this campaign," he said.

Agencies contributed to this report.