Authorities in the Arab Gulf state of Qatar are prohibiting Jewish visitors from purchasing cooked kosher food or organizing prayer groups during their stay in the country for the World Cup, leading Jewish groups to accuse Doha of reneging on its promise to protect the religious rights of sports fans during the World Cup.
Qatar has no diplomatic relations with Israel, but as a condition of its hosting the World Cup, FIFA mandated that Qatar not bar fans based on their nationality.
With thousands of Israelis expected to travel to Doha for the games, Qatar agreed to permit Israel to operate a temporary consular services office for the duration of the World Cup.
In addition, Jewish groups say they received a commitment from Doha that Jewish religious needs would not be interfered with during the World Cup, including the sale of kosher food and organizing of Jewish prayer services.
On Sunday, however, multiple Jewish organizations accused Qatar of breaking its promise, saying that local officials have banned the sale of cooked kosher food and organizing of Jewish prayer services in public.
“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,” said World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder.
“With tens of thousands of observant Jews expected to travel to the country in the coming weeks, this announcement effectively makes their attendance impossible.”
“The World Cup should serve as a unifying event for all sports fans, regardless of religious affiliation, who come together because of their love of sports.”
“The World Jewish Congress, whose Executive Committee will meet in the coming days at the Vatican, calls upon FIFA and the Qatari government to safeguard the ability of Jewish fans to openly practice their faith.”
According to sources cited by The Jerusalem Post, cold bagels are currently the only kosher food permitted for sale in Qatar, leading a number of American Jews to cancel their plans to attend the games.