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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

United Cause: How Palestine has taken centre stage at the FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar 


Footballers and fans have expressed solidarity with Palestine throughout FIFA Arab Cup matches in Qatar.

Algeria football team players were spotted waving the Palestinian flag on the pitch after advancing to the semi-finals of the Arab Cup Qatar 2021 on Saturday evening, in a gesture of solidarity with Palestine. 

Social media users flooded popular platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, with images and videos showcasing the moment in which Algeria’s national team celebrated its win against Morocco by raising the flag of Palestine at the Al Thumama stadium in Doha on Saturday.

Off the pitch, Algeria’s fans were spotted waving Palestinian and Algerian flags while donning the Palestinian keffiyeh, a symbolic scarf that represents resistance in the face of Israeli occupation and apartheid. 

But this was not the first instance of Palestinian solidarity at the tournament in Qatar.

Images of a fan wearing the traditional Qatari white thobe with a keffiyeh covering his head during the Qatar-UAE match on Saturday also made the rounds on social media. 

Read also: Newlyweds celebrate wedding at Egypt vs Algeria FIFA Arab Cup match

Qatar Youth Opposed to Normalisation [QAYON], a local pro-Palestine organisation in Qatar launched a twitter campaign encouraging Arab Cup fans to share pictures taken during the matches that showed solidarity with Palestine.

One user shared a side-profile picture showing “Free Palestine” written on her face, while other videos showed how dozens of Algerian fans gathered to chant for Palestine during post-match celebrations. 

“That’s why we love Algeria and its people, because they are genuine about their sense of belonging to Palestine. When they revolt, Palestine is at the forefront, and when they rejoice, Palestine leads celebrations. May normalisation end,” Raji Hams, Director of Programs at Palestine’s Al Aqsa TV channel. 

Prominent Qatar-based media personalities also expressed their solidarity and appreciation to the fans who took the moment to stand with Palestinians under occupation.

Al Jazeera’s Algerian news anchor, Khadija Ben Genna shared on Instagram clips of Algerian fans chanting for Palestine with a statement saying “the Palestinian flag is present in the hearts of Algerians.”

The FIFA Arab Cup 2021 tournament kicked off in Doha on 30 November with a spectacular ceremony at one of the World Cup 2022 stadiums.

The ceremony ended with a beautiful rendition that united national anthems from all 22 Arab League states into one track.

In the wake of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the latest events in the occupied territories, the Palestinian anthem triggered a roaring response from thousands of fans attending the opening ceremony at Al Bayt stadium.

The Palestinian national team itself qualified for the region-wide tournament despite the  illegal Israeli occupation that has significantly limited its resources.

Palestine matches, as well as those played by other teams, have been rocked with pro-Palestine chants, including “Free Palestine” and “Jerusalem is Arab”.

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