Migrant workers’ rights: The truth and the solution lie somewhere between all this mudslinging and denial
Everywhere I look, I find articles from various international media outlets highlighting the dire condition of labourers in Qatar. Though the issue itself is not new, the unprecedented surge of recent attention, in light of Qatar hosting the FIFA World Cup has thrown people into a tizzy like never before, and the media storm doesn’t seem like its going to subside any time soon.
When I read these reports, I was left with this strange feeling in my gut. On the one hand, I’m delighted that all this media coverage is bringing attention to the plight of migrant workers who have been systematically abused and mistreated due to Qatar’s notorious kafala system; but on the other, I am horrified at the sheer amount of vitriol and hostility being directed towards Qataris in general.
Due to the controversial nature of this issue, I can understand why it has polarised people so much. However, I also find it tiresome to see people falling in to the all too familiar blame game, pointing fingers at each other. As a Qatari, I find the widespread mistreatment of migrant workers, mainly due to the kafala system, a flagrant violation of basic human rights and would personally want nothing more than for this archaic and cruel law to be abolished, especially since it goes against our core beliefs as Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“Your brothers are your responsibility. Allah has made them under your hands. So whosoever has a brother under his hand, let him give him food as he eats and dress as he dresses. Do not give them work that will overburden them and if you give them such task then provide them assistance.” (Al-Bukhari)
Of course, not Monsters Inc
I can’t comprehend why those in power haven’t overturned this policy already, despite mounting pressure both locally and internationally to do so and the ensuing damage it is causing to Qatar’s reputation. I can attest to the fact that there are many Qataris who feel it should be reformed or abolished; even if we are unfortunately powerless to do anything about it. Which is why we feel frustrated at the seeming hate being leveled against us as if all Qataris were a uniform group of people who think and act alike.
One author noted in his post/article, Qataris are “not cold unfeeling monsters”. That this even needs to be stated is in itself quite astounding.
We ought to collectively work together towards helping those most affected by the kafala system and its related ills. That is not going to happen if all we do is tether between the extremes of unobjective mudslinging and blind denial. This is not an ego tussle between you and me, the privileged.