A prominent Qatari psychologist, while lauding a campaign launched recently by local youth urging expatriates to dress modestly in public, says she is worried the drive may end up getting religious overtones.
Dr Moza Al Malki said some people, in television interviews on the issue, had hinted that they looked at the modesty push as the harbinger of a religious police being set up here on the lines of that in a neighbouring country.
“This campaign is simply an awareness campaign, so it should not be taken in that direction. That would be undesirable. I find such talk quite annoying,” Al Malki said in remarks to this newspaper.
Some people think Qatar is mulling forming a religious police to enforce morality.
“But that is not true. It is better the campaign is limited to simply an awareness drive. It should not be blown out of its context.”
According to Al Malki, since the modesty push is an initiative of Qatari youth, both, men and women, religious activists should not be allowed to hijack it.
“The campaign is welcome since it simply aims at making foreigners living in the country or on a visit here aware of local customs and traditions. It aims at getting them to respect our sensitivities.”
Many people — men as well as women — who wear clothes that Qataris consider immodest don’t dress up that way to show disrespect to Qatar’s culture and traditions, said Al Malki.
“They just do it innocently, because they are not aware of local sensitivities. We visit some of those countries and we see people dressed up this way there. This means that’s the way they dress.”
“So we should not blame them and should rather create awareness and tell them politely what our sensitivities are,” Al Malki said in remarks to this newspaper.
Meanwhile, the ‘Reflect your Respect’ campaign launched on June 20 dominated local social media all through the past week, remaining the most hotly debated issue.
Some of the most interesting comments made on social media said that while many Europeans were supporting the modesty drive, Arab expatriates, in general, were not.
Some commentators said that when asked why they dressed inappropriately, some Arab women had expressed displeasure.