Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Racism, Not Freedom!

What we are witnessing today of attempts to impose “values” and ideas on the whole world and to involve politics in sports is nothing but racism, not freedom, as some claim to be the case. It reaches the point of barbarism in various fields.

What is known and simple is that your freedom ends where the freedom of others begins. What we are witnessing today is an infringement and an attack on customs, values, and beliefs. All this is being done in the name of freedom!

Suddenly, after the war in Ukraine, it became acceptable to involve politics in sports, and today attempts are being made to do so with the FIFA World Cup. The question here is what if an Arab football team or player decided to express themselves?

What if a team or player wears a badge that reads “Don't Forget Palestine,” “No to anti-Muslims,” or “Do not transgress on my religion” ... Would this be acceptable in the West? Will it be considered a right of expression? It certainly won't be allowed.

Today, we are witnessing a blatant abuse of the notion of freedom by extortionary political campaigns, which have turned to racism used by the media and some legislators. This is what we witnessed from some members of Congress after the OPEC+ decision to reduce production.

At that time, we saw campaigns of hatred and demonization of others without accountability or supervision. Dealing with different values, customs, and traditions in the world was done with “insults” and accusations prepared to distort the image of societies and peoples.

What we are witnessing today against the backdrop of the FIFA World Cup is a different level of descent in attacking cultures, customs, traditions, and countries that do not necessarily have the exact resemblance to the West or the United States.

As we have said, it is unfortunate that these campaigns, carried out in the name of freedom and values, took on the nature of blackmail and racism. An example of this is what happened when Newcastle United F.C. was bought.

It is both strange and surprising that those who lecture us about freedoms and values forget that they are the ones who were behind the invasion of our countries. The best example is Iraq, where hundreds of thousands were killed. To date, Iraq is still suffering from that occupation. Despite all this, we hear lame phrases about freedom, values, and respect for human rights.

In the name of freedom and human rights, we saw how Twitter, for example, tried to be the guardian of values before Elon Musk bought it. At that time, it reached the limit of prevention and censorship by people who can only be described as crazy.

There is a story that I have personally witnessed. There was a specific event back when Twitter was in the hands of the so-called guardians of virtue. In front of me, a user responded to a fake campaign about an event. Their story had a legal dimension and was based on the law.

In less than two minutes, they received a message warning that if their tweet were not deleted, their account would be suspended, while everything offensive and misleading remained.

We are not facing a campaign to defend freedom. Instead, it is a racist campaign in its language and violation of laws. Moreover, it is a selective campaign that ignores the victims in Iran, for example, and focuses on other regions. It claims to protect the climate but destroys art treasures.

Unfortunately, we are facing a crazy campaign that lacks all the foundations of rationality and respect for others.