Jewish organizations have claimed that despite being promised, Qatar has banned the sales of cooked kosher food at the 2022 Fifa World Cup and is also not allowing Jewish prayer services in Doha during the tournament. More than 10,000 Jewish people from Israel and thousands more from the United States are in Qatar to watch the Fifa World Cup.
There are also reports that a large group of wealthy American Jews had planned to go to Qatar together but abandoned their plans because they claimed they wouldn't feel safe and wouldn't have enough food to eat. This is the latest in the series of controversies surrounding the Qatar World Cup.
Inequality at the Games
Sources in Jewish organizations told The Jerusalem Post that neither cooked kosher food is being allowed to be sold nor are followers of Judaism allowed to worship in public during the tournament.
"We were promised to be allowed to create prayer spaces in order for religious Jews who came to see the games to have a place of worship," a representative of a Jewish organization told the outlet. "We were recently told that they banned places of worship for Jews because they cannot secure them."
"They were promised to be able to cook kosher food including kosher meat, but at the moment have only been allowed to sell cold bagel sandwiches," the source said claiming that authorities in Qatar had earlier promised that these things would be allowed.
Kosher describes food that has been prepared and deemed suitable for consumption in accordance with Jewish law. Judaism has laws limiting what its followers can eat, one of which is the manner of meat killing.
A Schochet, a person with specialized training, must carry out the ritual killing of the animal with a knife in a single, uninterrupted cut across the throat in order for the meat to be kosher.
With the exception of some birds like chicken, only meat from animals with split hooves and those that consume their own waste is regarded as kosher.
A source claimed that Jews who have gone to Qatar to sell cooked kosher food at the World Cup for visiting Jewish supporters "were promised to be able to cook kosher food including kosher meat, but at the moment have only been allowed to sell cold bagel sandwiches."
"There is no kosher food, there are no Shabbat meals and no public prayer services," another source said.
Amid all the controversy, American Rabbi Marc Schneier of New York – an influential Jewish figure in the Muslim world – together with a Turkish rabbi, announced the opening of the first kosher kitchen ever in Qatar in time for the opening match of the tournament.
"The FIFA World Cup is about bringing people together, interacting with different nations, cultures and faiths, and making everyone feel included and welcome," said Schneier, who is the president of the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a global center for Muslim-Jewish relations.
Rabbi Mendy Chitrik of Istanbul, the head of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, and his son Rabbi Eliyahu Chitrik are in charge of the kosher kitchen.
The food includes the baking of the first bagels in Qatar and other ethnically Jewish delicacies. Challah for Shabbat, bagel sandwiches with spreads like hummus, veggies, and smoked salmon are currently available from Kosher in Qatar.
However, when asked if there would be hot food or meat, Chitrik said that this would only be possible if a sizable number of Jews attended the games.
This year's FIFA World Cup has been plagued by a number of scandals, the latest of which involves the alleged ban on prayer rooms and cooked kosher food.
The allegations come as data shows that since it was announced that Qatar had won the right to host the event in 2010, at least 6500 migrant workers from nations including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka have died on construction sites there.
FIFA has also come under fire for awarding Qatar hosting rights because of the country's dubious human rights record, which includes its persecution of women and homosexual people.