Lionel Messi, the Bisht and the racist Western Media

By Aliya Zuberi

KARACHI: The road to Qatar has been one of the most bumpiest ones in FIFA history. While Qatar became the first Arab and Muslim nation to host the mega sporting event, the West was not amused by the decision. They took every opportunity to criticize the country and their organization of the event but many remained unconvinced of the bias shown. The final shot fired by the Western media was to criticize the bisht cloaking of Lionel Messi during the closing ceremony of the dramatic final.

The bisht is a long cloak made of light and sheer material. It is usually worn in the Persian Gulf by top officials during special occasions and the World Cup final was treated as such with the bisht being awarded to Messi by the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. But what was supposed to be a gesture to honor the player that made history, became a channel for racism.

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Several Western publications began publishing articles accusing Qatar of using the bisht to cover up the Argentina colors on Messi’s jersey. Other headlines included claims that, “This was a moment of pure malignance a decade or so in the making. It had taken deliberate, dedicated planning to turn something so beautiful so ugly.”


But it seems as though most people saw through the racist attacks and took to social media to educate the biased Western media. Many were quick to point out how the West is so opposed to accepting different cultures:

Others found it ironic that while most English publications are upset over Messi having to wear the bisht, Argentinians are making the most of the moment!

It is also interesting to know that Qatar is not the only country to award winners with a cultural garment to celebrate their win during a sporting event:

However, this isn’t the first time the Western media has lifted their racist masks. While the world celebrated Morocco on their historic journey, Dutch newspapers published images of Morocco stealing the world cup. German news casters claimed that the Moroccon team has links to ISIS because they were raising a finger, which is a religious gesture of Tawheed (the oneness of God). French newspapers published images of the Qatar team armed with dangerous weapons.

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It seems as though the anger over Messi being cloaked with the bisht was one last (failed) attempt to try to paint the Arab world through the strokes of racism. 



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