Morocco is a real surprise team in the semi-finals of the World Cup in Qatar. Unfortunately, there is also a shadow over the joy: violence, hatred and anti-Semitism. The host country plays a big part in this.

It is a sensation, a surprise of the century, a winter fairytale in football: For the first time, an African-Arabic football team with the Moroccan national team has made it this far in a World Cup – semi-finals! A game away from the final and the golden cup is already gleaming in the distance. A huge success!

The fact that many people in the Arab countries are celebrating and celebrating with Morocco is absolutely understandable and wonderful. If it wasn’t for Qatar. As so often at this World Cup, the host country uses precisely these beautiful moments to pursue its agenda – the goals of political Islam.

On the one hand, under pressure from Qatar, Fifa banned the rainbow flag and the “One Love” armband. The security forces identify individuals with such symbols in the stadiums and ban them from the venues. On the other hand, the country and the security forces are unable to stop the anti-Israeli and sometimes anti-Semitic propaganda.

Israeli fans and reporters are harassed, insulted and sometimes threatened on a daily basis. And in a police state like Qatar we can be sure: that’s exactly what we want! Yes, such occurrences are even specifically promoted to spread the message: Israel is not welcome here.

Qatar is opposed to the Abraham Accords Declaration, an agreement establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and several Arab states, including Morocco. This is precisely why Morocco’s success is being used to present Palestinian flags everywhere.

A clear signal against the Moroccan king and all those Arabs who recognize Israel’s right to exist and promote peace. And so Qatar is making political capital out of a wonderful success story in terms of its Islamist, Arab nationalist and anti-Semitic ideology.

For more than 100 years, all the Arab countries have been lagging behind the West: scientifically, technologically, economically and also in terms of sport. Civil wars, defeats, poverty and division have become even more noticeable in recent years from Morocco to Yemen. The only perspective that remains is emigration.

Hardly anything remains of Arab nationalism, of pan-Arabism, and so the Arab people are trying to generate their self-esteem and pride from history, from the times when they conquered the world under Islamic rule. For the spectators all over the Arab world, it’s not just about football, but rather about healing their inferiority complexes and fighting against the far superior West.

With Morocco’s victory over Spain and Portugal, the feeling came: We are someone! The feelings of inferiority towards the West were compressed by this success. Finally they have self-esteem. They are finally meeting the West – at least in football – on an equal footing for a brief moment.

In addition to the peacefully celebrating Moroccan fans, dissidents in several European cities drew attention to themselves with violence and riots after the victory against Portugal. Instead of celebrating, they turned to the police, wrecking cars and anything that stood in their way. This violence is an expression of failed integration.

It illustrates the rejection, aggression and envy of these people towards the countries in which they may live physically but have never arrived emotionally. Their loyalty, their compass is still anchored where their grandparents came from, even after generations. Even if most of them hardly know the home countries of their ancestors, for them these are places that create identity and values, because they understand their identity as “either – or”: Either French or Moroccan, both are not possible.

Operation Allah: How political Islam wants to undermine our democracy

By the way, they agree exactly with the narratives of their right-wing opponents. Most of the hooligans also reject the values ​​and way of life of the West and see only their traditions, culture and religion as perfect and morally impeccable. And it is precisely this understanding that leads to conflicts all over Europe every day, which have now become more visible through football.

And when the joy of victory meets exactly that hate, coupled with the lust for violence and group dynamics that lead to mobs forming, the exact images that we have seen from Belgium, France and the Netherlands in the last few days emerge to have. This is exactly what is to be feared after the Morocco-France game on Wednesday evening, regardless of how the game ends.

It is to be hoped that Morocco will continue its winter wonderland in a sporty way – without the side effects of anti-Semitism, violence and aggression.

Ahmad Mansour is a psychologist and author from Berlin. Born in Kfar Saba in 1976, he has Israeli and German citizenship. In 2018, Mansour founded MIND prevention (Mansour Initiative for Democracy Promotion and Extremism Prevention), which conducts workshops on extremism prevention. He works with inmates of correctional facilities and with refugees.

Mansour is also persistently committed to combating anti-Semitism. In 2015 his book “Generation Allah. Why we have to rethink the fight against religious extremism” was published, followed in August 2018 by “Plain Text on Integration – Against False Tolerance and Scaremongering”. His new book “Operation Allah: How Political Islam Wants to Undermine Our Democracy” was recently published.

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