Authorities in Qatar have confirmed a number of children’s toys deemed “contrary to Islamic values” have been seized from stores across the Arab country.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry posted photos on Monday of the apparently offensive items on its social media, which included plastic, rainbow-colored apples and butterflies. It added the seizures were a result of a number of inspections carried out by government officials.
The Ministry tweeted it had “carried out inspection campaigns on several retail outlets in different regions across Qatar. The campaigns resulted in the seizure and release of several violations, including the confiscation of children’s toys bearing slogans that go against Islamic values.”
Critics have suggested the toys were confiscated by the state because they bear the colors of the LGBT flag, however not all the offending items in the image posted by the government department are even reflective of the LGBT community and the Ministry chose not to elaborate as to why the appearance of the toys had justified such a response.
The sharia-run country owns the Al Jazeera media outlet, which has been highly critical of Poland over LGBT rights in the past.
Male homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and can warrant a custodial sentence for non-Muslims, whilst Muslims who forego homosexual activities can receive the death penalty under sharia law.
Reporting on the seizure, the Qatari news agency, QNA said: “The ministry urges all citizens and residents to report any merchandise bearing logos or designs contrary to traditions.”
The seizure will be viewed by many as another hostile act against the LGBT community at a time when the microscope will be upon the country ahead of next year’s FIFA World Cup.
The country has assured football fans that all will be welcome to Qatar for next year’s tournament, with chief executive of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Nassar al-Khater, recently telling a press conference: “I would like to assure any fan, of any gender, (sexual) orientation, religion, race to rest assured that Qatar is one of the most safe countries in the world — and they’ll all be welcome here.”
However, the country’s past treatment of LGBT persons and latest actions are raising doubts over how sincere that invitation from the Qatari Ministry of Commerce and Industry actually is.