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Charlie Hebdo, El American

The Cynicism of the West: Charlie Hebdo Ties PSG, Qatar with Taliban

The criticism is harsh: in the West, we are rightly shocked by the atrocities of the Taliban, but Qatari fundamentalism is not so criticized and, in some cases, is even supported.

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The French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, on the occasion of the outrage over the coming to power of the Taliban, decided to deliver a bold criticism against those who support, directly or indirectly, Islamic terrorism.

On its August 17 front page, Charlie Hebdo shows a text that reads: “Talibans : c’est pire que ce qu’on pensait” (Taliban: it was worse than thought). It shows three women in light blue burqas completely covered. On their backs is the most significant detail of the cover, as it shows Messi‘s name and, in addition, the number 30, the number that the Argentine footballer will wear at Paris Saint Germain (PSG).

“The latest cover of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo by Biche, one of the cartoonists/humorists of its penultimate generation, raises with luminous clarity the most inflammable of the most dramatic current problems: the financing of international Islamist fundamentalism”, explained Juan Pedro Quiñonero, correspondent of the Spanish daily ABC in Paris.

The criticism is extremely harsh: in the West, we are rightly scandalized by the atrocities of the Taliban, but Qatari fundamentalism is not so criticized and, in some cases, is even supported by Western society.

Lionel Messi, the best soccer player of this century and probably of history, joined the soccer club Paris Saint Germain, whose owner is Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, a Qatari businessman closely linked to the Qatari royal family.

Al-Khelaïfi, because of his good relationship with the royal family, joined the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) in 2005, a company used by the family to diversify its investments, the idea being to get out of the ostentatious and lucrative oil and gas business.

According to a Goal.com profile, Al-Khelaïfi’s rise was “meteoric” and in 2011 he was put in charge of “Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), QIA’s subsidiary focused solely on business within the world of sports. His mission: to turn the recently acquired Paris Saint-Germain, a club with only 41 years of history and already 9 Ligue 1 titles, into one of the best teams on the planet”.

From there, PSG became what is known as a club-state, supported by the Qatari royal family and investing large sums of money in top players. Zlatan Ibrahimović, Javier Pastore, Angel Di Maria, Edinson Cavani, Dani Alves, Gianluigi Buffon, Neymar JR, Kylian Mbappe, and, now, Lionel Messi; are some of the players acquired by the Parisian institution.

Messi, in particular, is an unprecedented coup in the world of soccer. What the Argentine represents for PSG and, of course, for his Qatari owners, goes far beyond what he does on the pitch. Messi is a product that will bring a lot of economic revenue to Qatar, an emirate that systematically violates the human rights of men, women and children and is accused of financing and supporting Islamic terrorism.

Of course, the magazine’s criticism is not of Messi directly, who simply goes to Paris to do his job: play soccer. The same for the rest of the PSG players and any other player related to a Club-State or teams that, in general, are linked to business in Qatar (which are not few).

Charlie Hebdo’s tenacity is against the West, where the Taliban are harshly criticized, but the Qataris are treated with favor. The world of soccer, in particular, is completely devoted to the Club-States. UEFA, for example, has been permissive with financial fair play regulations when it comes to clubs linked to Qatar.

The next FIFA World Cup, which will take place next year, will be held in Qatar. A cup, by the way, tainted by allegations of labor exploitation in the construction of soccer stadiums and infrastructure.

The cover of Charlie Hebdo, undoubtedly impresses and sharply plays with emotions by cleverly using Messi’s name to criticize the record of jerseys sold. It is a blow to cynicism, as that record ultimately means more money for Qatar. Let’s be clear: it is not the fault of the Qataris, it is the sole and exclusive responsibility of the many Western consumers.

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