Qatari official slams 'arrogant' Western response to Messi wearing bisht
The Gulf country’s assistant foreign minister, Lolwah Alkhater, condemned on Saturday the "arrogant" European response to Messi wearing the bisht cloak at the tournament finals earlier this month.
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani gifted the football sensation a bisht – which the royal was also wearing at the time – symbolising appreciation and respect for Messi’s sporting achievements.
"Gowning Messi with a Bisht drove many Euro-centric supremacists crazy… a state of frenzy has gripped many European media professionals, as they practice their arrogant complex over the world's cultures," AlKhater tweeted.
"The irony is that the Europeans themselves practice this ritual at all graduation ceremonies, and it is an Arab tradition that began at Al-Qarawiyyin University, which was founded by Fatima Al-Fihri in 859," she added, asking if that fact is "too much for your colonial fantasy?".
Many activists also called out "racist" and "ignorant" European reporting surrounding the event, which saw some accuse the Qatari leader of disrespecting Messi by "covering his Argentina shirt".
The Telegraph branded the gesture a "bizarre act that ruined the greatest moment in World Cup history".
On the BBC's coverage, commentator Gary Lineker said during a live broadcast of the ceremony that it "seems a shame in a way that they covered up Messi in his Argentina shirt".
ESPN writer Mark Ogden also wrote in a now-deleted tweet: "all the pics are ruined by somebody making him wear a cape that looks like he’s about to have a haircut."
However, fans remarked that Messi appeared pleased to be wearing the bisht, as videos posted to social media also showed Argentinian fans purchasing the garments in Qatari markets.
The bisht is a cloak made of light material with trimmings sometimes made of real gold, and is often worn by top officials and high-status individuals, or on special occasions.