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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Qatar summons US ambassador over ‘insulting’ video by troops


Assistant Foreign Minister for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad Al Meraikhi with US Ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith.
Assistant Foreign Minister for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad Al Meraikhi with US Ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith.

With reporting from Tory Scott

The US Ambassador to Qatar has apologized to the government over a video posted on social media by American soldiers who appeared to insult the Qatari flag.

The troops who shared the video are stationed at the Al Udeid air base outside of Doha, one of the largest US military outposts in the Middle East.

In a series of tweets, Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was investigating the incident, and Ambassador Dana Shell Smith said disciplinary action was being taken.

Insulting the flag is a serious offense in Qatar. In 2012, then-Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani passed a law increasing the penalties on mistreating the flag.

Those caught “showing disrespect” to Qatar’s flag, which is named “Al Addaam,” or maroon in Arabic, could face six months to three years in jail or a QR100,000 to QR200,000 fine, Al Arab states.

The issue

In the video, two people dressed in army fatigues are seen standing in front of the US and Qatar flags.

They are shown laughing a lot as they try to say they are standing in an “undisclosed location.”

At one point, the two look at the Qatari flag and say, “mmh.”

Many people on Twitter appeared to have taken this as an insult, saying it was unacceptable and unbecoming.

However, the ambassador argued that the soldiers were merely making fun of themselves and not the flag.

In response to Qataris who said they don’t tolerate insults to their flag by people who are inside their country, she reiterated that the matter was being investigated, stressing that the US and Qatar are old and strong allies.

Others on Twitter thanked Smith for her apology, saying they understood the two people in the video did not represent the US.


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