In a statement published on Facebook this week, the MOI said:
“Begging is a social evil that increases in the holy month of Ramadan where some stand in the front of masjid (mosques), shopping malls and highly populated streets exploiting the spirit of charity.”
It added that the illegal practice of “begging” gives the country a negative image, and allows those soliciting money to obtain it the “easy way” instead of acquiring a job that benefits the society and the nation.
Residents are instead being urged to donate their money to authorized charities to ensure the money goes to those who really need it.
This year, charities in Qatar have expanded their free iftar dinners and other services to meet increasing demand.
In a renewal of past campaigns, the MOI has also asked residents to report panhandlers via its hotlines, 234 7444 /3361 8627.
The call received mixed reactions on social media, with some praising the country’s efforts, while others criticized the crackdown as inhumane.
On Facebook, Zii Unlimit said that she’s seen many panhandlers asking for money in Qatar, despite appearing to be in perfect physical shape and thus capable of working.
She added that they “act” needy until they get the cash and count it.
”Great job Qatar – catch (all the) fake beggars,” she said.
However, Alaa Diab criticized the crackdown, saying:
“The irony, aren’t there many men in Qatar dying because of hard labor involving the World Cup with barely any food or water working in extreme hot temperatures? Fix all the problems first, then make these campaigns.”
Commenter Ali Khan added, “How can we say NO to this poor people? This is not humanity.”
And Malak Eguna said:
“There’s nothing wrong to give food or small amount because we don’t know what are the reasons maybe they lost their job and they can’t feed the family.”
The practice of panhandling is relatively rare in Qatar.
Some attribute this to the strict penalties meted out to those found begging, which under the country’s penal code could include jail time of up to one year, in addition to losing all the money obtained from soliciting strangers.