Dr. Nass Mohamed strongly intends to be part of the propaganda Blizzard when Qatar’s The World Cup year has finally begun, even though he will never return to his homeland.
As the wealthy Gulf state’s first openly gay man with a global profile, his message will likely be taken away by the prospect of sweeping eight stadiums in six months’ time.
Dr. Naas believes that the 32 countries that go to the tournament, regarded as the crown jewel of the sporting world, will play ‘in the home of abused children’ in the context of their homeland’s treatment of LGBTQ+ people.
He went public in late May, resulting in death threats and derogatory comments on social media, as well as numerous supportive messages from Qataris in private.
Now working and living in the US, the physician plans to increase the visibility of LGBTQ+ Qataris before and during the FIFA World Cup 2022, which begins on November 21 at the 60,000-capacity Al-Bayt Stadium.
His decision to step out of the shadows has come at a great personal cost.
The 35-year-old admitted that he would never return to the land of his birth and is now separated from his family, receiving derogatory messages after his story was covered by an Arabic-language TV channel.
Even in the US, where he runs Osara Medical Practice in San Francisco, he believes the ‘threat of death is not zero’ after some in the conservative emirate mistook the news.
‘There was a wave of hate messages,’ says Dr. Nas.
‘I got at least two death threats on my Instagram, many more on my DMs and less everything else. I was threatened that I would be tracked down, beaten and subjected to every kind of humiliation you could think of.
‘But the hate and love messages probably had a ratio of one to five.
‘I had all the love messages in my DMs, a lot of allies in Qatar, a lot of LGBTQ people in Qatar who are thrilled to finally see someone speak. Now the rest of the world is joining this debate and it is bypassing Qatari PR.’
An academically gifted teenager, Dr. Naas grew up in rural Qatar and began traveling back and forth between his homeland and Weill Medical College in New York in 2015.
Although he lived in fear of the kingdom, he told Metro.co.uk that the most immediate danger was those around him, who would feel embarrassed if they learned of his true identity.
Dr Nas says, ‘The whole reason I come out is to share stories that are not allowed to be told.
‘In my case I was surrounded by very, very conservative people and I knew I would be in danger of death if the information somehow surfaced which would be done by one person. So I left, and I was still very nervous in America. I remember showing my Qatari ID at a gay bar and I was absolutely terrified I thought I would be arrested at the door.
‘That was the level of my fear.’
Dr Nas also claimed that any connected members of LGBTQ+ communities were subject to ‘systematic’ scrutiny if they became known to investigators in the oil-rich Gulf state, where same-sex relationships are illegal.
“It is very dangerous to have a gay community in Qatar,” he says. ‘When a person is caught, there is a systematic process of searching their entire network.
‘So there is no need for gay individuals to be connected digitally or in any way so that they are not all caught if one person is found.’
It has been reported that the offense of same-sex relations can result in the death penalty under Sharia law, from which Qatar’s law derives, although there are no recorded instances of this happening.
However, according to newly created public figures, even simple public expressions of support for LGBTQ+ rights carry risks.
“Freedom of expression is being severely curtailed in Qatar,” he says.
‘There has never been a public forum for LGBTQ issues. Showing support and views away from mainstream oppressive and abusive tendencies should be covert as it will have consequences, so messages of support should be DMed. The Cyber Crime Unit in Qatar is monitoring the social media accounts of many people. When opinions are given publicly, they can show you up and arrest and interrogate you.
‘There are people who have not been gay, who have expressed support for LGBTQ people, who have been questioned.’
After moving to the US, Dr. Naas joined various international groups to help community members with asylum claims in the Middle East.
While some LGBTQ+ stories from Qatar have been anonymously shared in the media, they believe the visibility of a human face and name is far more powerful than testimony from the shadows.
It took medicine a year to reach the moment of external truth.
‘It was a crazy process to reach it,’ he says.
‘I had to accept that my risk of death was not zero.
‘Then I had to collect as many stories as I could and part with them, because the people associated with me would not be safe.
‘As much as I could, I took some security measures here in America. I was psychologically prepared to reach out to my family members and tell me that they were going to hurt me.
‘But it hasn’t happened yet. I think they are probably more afraid to have a relationship with me again, which is probably for the best of them as well.’
As Qatar prepares to host an estimated 1.5 million visitors for the winter tournament, the figurehead aims to give voice to the unheard stories they have collected as a counterpoint to official communication.
Early signs from hosts suggested to fans Will be able to raise rainbow flags and express LGBTQ+ identity inside at least eight stadiums.
But after crackdown on children’s toys with color schemes similar to the Pride symbol and comments by a senior Qatari official, security personnel may intervene to prevent expressions of support to protect the safety of fans.
“Visibility will be my biggest security for my own safety, I will speak from Qatar as an independent Qatari who cannot be censored by the authorities,” says Dr Naas.
In the second phase, Qatar will share select stories of LGBTQ Qataris who are in a complete black box, who have not been heard in public before and are not on anyone’s radar.
‘They are absolutely abused and they get gaslighted about it as soon as they come out, because your abuser has PR power and has completely hidden all the abuse. I am going to document the stories of LGBTQ harassment as the FIFA World Cup coverage begins.’
Dr Nas, who uses her gender-neutral first name, wants to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ Qataris in some parts of the world, offering freedoms for those who want to keep their authentic selves in the shadows. want.
“Establishing the need for asylum cases is an immediate short-term goal,” he says. ‘International organizations need to know that we need help, but we haven’t even been able to ask for it because it is so dangerous.’
The English Football Association stands by a statement issued in December saying it has received assurances from Qatari authorities about the safety of fans and freedom of expression in the showpiece final.
However, Dr Nas is not convinced.
‘Let’s talk about a home where one parent and nine children are domestically abused by a wealthy, influential and very well connected parent,’ he says.
‘They’re now inviting the world to a fancy dinner party at home. In that analogy if you know there are some kids in the basement, how would you show that?
‘If they go to Qatar they need to show that their worth as human beings had no value. If you’re about to go to a place where the world is being contained, show us everything you stand for.’
Metro.co.uk has contacted Qatari authorities for comment.
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