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Thu 2 Oct 2008 03:28 AM

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Qatar police use whips and sticks on Asian labourers

Expat workers prevented from entering 'family area' Doha souq over the holiday period.

Qatar police use whips and sticks on Asian labourers
DISCRIMATION: Asian bachelors say they are singled out for unfair treatment by the authorities in Doha. (Getty Images)

Groups of Asian single men were beaten with whips and kicked during a police operation to prevent them from entering Doha’s popular souq areas on Wednesday, Qatar daily the Gulf Times reported.

Heritage Police Officers used stick-like instruments to herd labourers away from cordoned areas along Grand Hamad Avenue, the paper said on Thursday.

When one officer was asked why such force was being used, the paper said he replied: "They are not allowed inside this family area." He then explained that whips were being employed "because they do not understand".

Although policemen usually patrol the Grand Hamad area on Fridays, they tend to be plainclothes officers who do not carry weapons such as those used on Wednesday, the paper said.

The Gulf Times reported one officer using his whip on five separate occasions within a ten-minute period, even running to catch people before hitting them.

Other appalled witnesses said they had seen labourers being kicked by the officers if they did not move quickly enough.

Single men have long been turned away from this particular souq area at weekends, with policemen citing it as a "family only" area, it added.

The paper commented that on at least one previous occasion, there appeared to be a very clear distinction made between Western, Arab and Asian bachelors, with the first two groups being allowed unlimited access while Asians who were subjected to shouting and physical abuse in some cases.

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MUKESH BHATIA 11 years ago

It is a real shame if the Qatari Govt. treats expat workers like this and discriminates.It is because of these expat workers that Qatar is building Steel-Glass-Aluminium Towers and Musuems with Antique BOUGHT from the world market.The day when these workers leave WHO will stay or live in this DESERT country???

rasha 11 years ago

The police actions were made against single men who have been told that this is a family area, an area that is publicly known to be a restricted Family place on weekends and holidays. This was not discrimination against Asian people, meaning that Asian women, children and their husbands were not prevented from enterance. In the third world, it is evident that the majority of labour-class have not yet been educated about social etiquette and cultural sensitivities. The gulf highly respects women's and family privacy, the law states that women be served first, that women have their private seats and ques in public and private places, in buses, and in most malls there are special cashiers for women and elderly. In the UAE there are Family-public beaches, even though female Nationals do not swim. Newspaper articles have been written about fully dressed Asian men who always stand and stare at women in swim suits at the beach. Avoiding molestation is a key target in the Gulf states and foreigners should respect that. All over the world protestors are pushed away with relative force by authorities if they do not comply, these men could be considered protestors if they stood and stared while ignoring the authorities and not respecting the cultural and legal rights of a family in the gulf. However, the Authorities should have worn official clothes and acted more on prevention than on treatment.

AT 11 years ago

Rasha the final paragraph saying Western and Arab men were permited into the family area, so it does sound like discrimination. Also, for the record it is not just Asians who stare at women.

Mohd Ali 11 years ago

Rasha, my cousin is a senior bank officer in Doha, and was also prevented from entering a mall even though he is a respectable man whose family lives in Doha. The guards actually asked him if he was Arab, when he replied in fluent Arabic that he was not, they prevented entry . Many Arab bachelors also harass women, shouldnt the rule be against all bachelors in that case instead of just Asians?

Mark Flap 11 years ago

Where did they get whips from? Are they part of the standard police equipment? This is the world's richest country per head, in the 21st century, and they're whipping Asians because 'they didn't understand'. Maybe a notice in Hindi or Urdu would have been a good first step?

rasha 11 years ago

In addition to my previous comment and in reply to other comments, I believe that evident discrimination is a shame, and that Asian labourers in specific do deserve more respect for the enormous work they do, and for literally building the gulf over their shoulders. They also deserve better living conditions and leisure facilities, I guess that's another topic.

Mohan Nair 11 years ago

Being an American of Indian origin, I have seen the double standards Arabs follow when you have an American passport Vs an Indian passport. You have separate counters in Dubai and there is a difference in the way they treat you. There has been an instance when I landed in Houston after flying Emirates, We Americans are directed to a separate counters meant for citizens and permanent residents. Then this Arab guy tries to walk into line meant for citizens and the lady who directs folks asks him his US passport or greencard, he pretends not to understands and points at me and says how is that guy going that line. The lady repeatedly kept asking him his US passport and finally he relented. Unless they get over this mentality of relating skin color to Nationality or talent for that matter, they are just not going to succeed. There are many people from the Subcontinent or for that matter people of color who are very successful in their fields of work.

Padmanabhan 11 years ago

This should not be taken as a single case but is the global phenomenon and that is were the GAP between RICH and POOR amply become clear. All these rich should appreciate that if the poor guys decides one day to stop working, the rotten rich will die out of their own decays in the backyard. The luxury and enjoyment of the RICH comes only through the hard work of the POOR who does it for a living.. And if that living is not with dignity and in poor condition and on the back of autocratic rules and regulations, where is the so called HUMAN RIGHTS... It is only fair to appreciate these poor labourers are also brothers, sons and fathers of many others who are back at their home country longing to see them. They are deprived of these love, attention and nearness for the petty living these poor people are after. They are an absolutely necessary element of the social fabric and should be treated with respect and dignity. The whole world should deplore these kind of actions done on the back of draconian rules and regulations. God bless them when the day comes and they will all be answerable to the bad treatment they moot to their fellow brothers..

Saeed 11 years ago

Lets face it, racism is well and alive in Arab countries. I have lived and worked and traveled to may countries. But no where have Isen racist people like I have in GCC. And to tink that they are moslems and are supposed to follow te prophets words. They are an embaresment to the religion.

John Fewings 11 years ago

Padmanabhan, Saeed... you're so right. Unfortunately sudden wealth hasn't generated sudden respect for those who make it all possible. In a place where many people consider it an affront to fill up their own cars (I once shared a petrol pump in the UK with Ringo Starr who was filling up his own Rolls Royce), and where quite a few people quickly resort to pointing out that "it's my country" as opposed to apologising for their bad manners, what do you expect? Respect is a two-way street, and money alone will never truly buy it.