Outrage amid claims Qatar to ban kosher food and Jewish public prayer

Around 10,000 Jews from Israel and around the world expected to arrive in Qatar for the games


Outrage has been expressed following claims that Qatar has decided to ban cooked kosher food and public Jewish prayer during the FIFA World Cup.

According to multiple reports, Qatar has backtracked on promises made to observant Jews to provide cooked kosher food and to allow public Jewish prayer services.

The President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S Lauder said on Sunday: “I am outraged by reports that Qatari authorities have banned the sale of cooked kosher food as well as prohibited Jews from congregating for public prayer, in connection with their presence at the World Cup. With tens of thousands of observant Jews expected to travel to the country in the coming weeks, this announcement effectively makes their attendance impossible."

However, in an updated statement on Monday, the World Jewish Congress said there may be a "misunderstanding", and it is now seeking "clarity" on the situation.

A spokesperson has told the JC: “We are contacting authorities and Jewish officials on the ground to lend clarity to the situation and to try to determine whether there has been a misunderstanding.” 

In the lead up to the World Cup, Qatar said that it would allow religious Jewish practices, but late last week, organisers said they could not “secure” services.

This weekend, Jewish organisations also claimed that Qatar had banned kosher food. One told the Jerusalem Post: “We were promised to be allowed to create prayer spaces in order for religious Jews who came to see the games to have a place of worship.

“We were recently told that they banned places of worship for Jews because they cannot secure them.”

Another source told the publication: “They were promised to be able to cook kosher food including kosher meat, but at the moment have only been allowed to sell cold bagel sandwiches,”

On Sunday it was announced by Rabbi Marc Schneier, an influential Jewish figure in the Muslim world and president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a centre for interfaith relations, that the first ever kosher kitchen in Qatar would be created in time for the tournament’s opening match.

Rabbi Schneier said: “The FIFA World Cup is about bringing people together, interacting with different nations, cultures and faiths, and making everyone feel included and welcome.”

Currently, the kosher kitchen provides no cooked kosher food or meat but does sell hallah for Shabbat, bagel sandwiches, hummus, vegetables and smoked salmon.

This comes as the Israelis have travelled to Qatar for the World Cup on direct flights from Tel Aviv for the first time. At least six return flights are planned.

Rabbi Schneier has been approached for comment.

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