"In the Spotlight" A New Report by Maat Monitors Violations against Religious Minorities in Qatar
Okeil: Qatar ranks fifth in the world in the index of attacks on Christian buildings and churches
Issa: Laws that discriminate against minorities must be repealed
Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights issued a new report entitled "In the Spotlight: Minority Rights in Qatar", which highlights the reality of minority rights in Qatar, by monitoring and analyzing the factors leading to persecution and repression, as well as exploring laws, policies and practices related to minority rights in Qatar, in addition to the challenges minorities face in obtaining their basic rights.
The Report consists of four main axes, which are the concept of minorities and their rights according to international laws and covenants; the religious demographics in Qatar; the legal framework governing religious freedom and the rights of minorities in Qatar; and finally the challenges facing religious minorities in Qatar.
The Report showed that Qatar is one of the countries in the world in which people belonging to religious minorities, including Christians, are subjected to multiple patterns of oppression, persecution, discrimination and violations of basic human rights, including the right to physical integrity, the right to freedom of religion and belief and ensuring access to places of worship and religious sites, the right to express religious beliefs, and employment.According to 2023 statistics, the population in Qatar is estimated at 2,980,000 people. Expatriates (non-citizens) constitute about 90 percent of the total population in Qatar, while the percentage of Qatari citizens is 10 percent of the total population in Qatar. In addition to Muslim majority, which make up about 79 percent, there are a number of minorities and other religious sects, including, Christians, at about 13.7 percent; Hindus, at about 3.1 percent; Buddhists, at about 1.8 percent, and Baha’is, with at about 0.1 percent, and they are all subjected to several violations.
In this context, Ayman Okeil, an international human rights expert and President of Maat, stated that religious minorities in Qatar face multiple violations and challenges that impede their integration into society, including violations and challenges related to religious cleansing policies, and the denial of holding leadership positions, including the presidency of universities and ministerial portfolios, in addition to being subjected to forced eviction and deportation, restrictions on building and opening houses of worship, restrictions on religious expression and display of religious symbols, discrimination in employment, attacks on cemeteries and places of worship, difficulties in finding decent work and challenges in accessing religious education or obtaining adequate housing.
Okeil added that Qatar has witnessed more than 100 systematic attacks on places of worship, cemeteries and Christian buildings, making Qatar ranks fifth in the world in the index of attacks on Christian buildings and churches for the year 2022. Therefore, Okeil called for the need to lift all restrictions imposed on building and opening places of worship as well as showcasing religious symbols of religious minorities, and restricting policies of expulsion, forcible deportation, and religious cleansing of individuals belonging to religious minority communities, especially Christians.
For his part, Ahmed Issa, a researcher at Maat, said that the legal framework in Qatar is faulted with many provisions and texts that violate the rights of minorities in Qatar and impede their integration into society. The Qatari Constitution and law perpetuate unfair discrimination against persons belonging to religious minorities and deny them enjoyment of their basic human rights, in particular, the right to freedom of religion and belief and the practicing of religious rites. Issa, therefore, called for the need to amend or cancel legislation and laws that perpetuate discrimination against persons belonging to religious minorities.