German media accused of racism over Morocco celebration claims
A news segment dragged up ISIS as it discussed the Moroccan team in Qatar
German news channel Welt has been criticized after making links between celebrations used by members of Morocco’s Qatar 2022 World Cup team and terrorist group ISIS.
The Atlas Lions’ journey to become the first-ever Arab and African nation to reach the semifinals of the FIFA showpiece has captivated football fans worldwide.
They have achieved the feat by beating European heavyweights Belgium in the group phase, Spain in the last 16, and Portugal in the quarterfinals.
Following their 1-0 victory over the Portuguese, which ended Cristiano Ronaldo’s dream of winning the World Cup, three Moroccan players were seen smiling, holding a Moroccan flag between them and raising their index fingers.
The gesture is used in a celebratory manner by Muslims as a show of thanks to the Almighty, dating back centuries.
Sharing footage of the celebrations, Welt claimed it could be the cause of “irritation” because it was a “salute” used by ISIS.
Die Bild und die taz hatten auch gute Chancen, aber der Preis für die widerlichste und gefährlichste Hetze geht an die Welt.
Marokko würde „mit Geste des Islamischen Staats“ posieren. Das ist Volksverhetzung und klassische Verschwörungstheorie.
Gehen wir den Unsinn kurz durch. pic.twitter.com/5U3NII8Rqq
— Tarek Baé (@Tarek_Bae) December 12, 2022
German news media, WELT, just did a segment about how the Moroccan football team is “imitating the Islamic State” because they put their fingers up- thanking God for their win..like every single football player that ever played the gamehttps://t.co/b1PGTNfI5G
— Hebh Jamal (@hebh_jamal) December 12, 2022
The clip suggested that the players were unaware of such associations with the gesture.
Welt’s segment has been widely shared on social media and seen upwards of a million times across various different Twitter accounts.
It was dubbed insulting, with German-based US journalist Hebh Jamal, a Muslim of Palestinian origin, saying: “I am fascinated every day by the extent in which German racism presents itself with its coverage of the World Cup.”
German journalist Taraek Bae said that Welt had fabricated a connection between ISIS and the Moroccan players, who knew the real meaning of their Islam faith while “racists in the world do not.”
“This inflammatory reporting around the world causes irritation,” Bae added.
One social media user said the Welt segment had used a “mix of open racism” and “stupidity.”
“This German TV channel compares religious people thanking God to ISIS. Apparently, if you thank God for something, you’re a terrorist,” wrote another.
Some sectors of the German media have also taken issue with the use of the Palestinian flag displayed by Morocco after their victories in Qatar.
Left-leaning newspaper Die Tageszeitung, also known as Taz, branded the use of the flag as a form of “orchestrated hostility towards Israel” and claimed that Morocco’s wins were punctured by the “anti-Semitic tinge” of brandishing the Palestinian flag.
On Twitter, Bild writer Julian Ropcke sparked a backlash when he argued that “rainbow flags don’t work because of culture and respect and FIFA and stuff like that” but Moroccans face no problems for supporting “a non-existent state that wants to drive seven million Jews into the sea.”
While there was a furor over the proposed use of a One Love LGBTQ-themed rainbow captain’s armband in Qatar, with the German national team covering their mouths with their hands for a team photo when the item was banned, FIFA has recognized the Palestinian Football Association and its symbols since 1998.
Welt has claimed elsewhere that the “Free Palestine” chant used by some fans at Qatar 2022 implies the “destruction of Israel.”
Meanwhile, Morocco are bidding to continue their World Cup heroics when they take on defending champions France at the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar on Wednesday night.