The Sunday Telegraph
Persecution in Qatar
SIR – The Baha’i community in Qatar
– a religious minority that has, since independence, been at home in the country – has in recent years experienced increasing discrimination at the hands of the government.
Many Baha’i families have been forced to leave as a result of false criminal allegations, blacklisting, and the baseless denial of “certificates of good conduct” needed to work in several professions.
We represent Remi Rouhani, a Baha’i and a Qatari citizen, and former director of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Mr Rouhani is due to appear before Qatar’s highest court later this month to appeal an unjust conviction. Our concern is that charges were brought against Mr Rouhani with the aim of pressuring him and his family, and to further unsettle the Baha’i community. We will closely monitor the proceedings and consider raising his case before international human rights bodies if justice is not served.
Mr Rouhani’s case – and the decision of the court – may serve as a bellwether for Qatar’s intentions regarding the people of the Baha’i faith and other religious minorities as the country attracts global attention ahead of the World Cup later this year.
It is important that Qatar respects the rights of all religious minorities. Religious freedom means that Qatar’s government cannot discriminate against Mr Rouhani or any other member of the Baha’i community. Qatar risks eliminating yet another religious minority from a Middle Eastern country if this pattern is not reversed.
Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws QC Steven Powles QC
Doughty Street Chambers London WC1