A former Qatari rally car driver that came under fire by local community members after appearing on Israel’s Kan 11 TV channel has issued a formal apology via his Twitter account.
The former sportsman, Hamad Al-Suwaidi, partook in an interview on the Israeli channel and made pro-Israel statements, saying that ‘Israelis’ were welcome to visit Qatar during the 2022 World Cup set to take place in the Gulf state from November to December.
After quoting Islam’s Prophet Mohammed, Al Suwaidi tweeted: “I apologize for my interview with the Israeli channel and declare my solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Thank you to those who advised me with wisdom and kind words, following the guidance of our Prophet.”
During his appearance, in which he boasted about sculpting a large stone replica of the FIFA World Cup trophy, Al-Suwaidi said that Israelis will have a “warm reception to those [Israelis] who will attend the World Cup.” Al-Suwaidi added that “Doha belongs to everyone.”
“This is also their country and they will be like brothers to us,” the former sportsmen added, saying he intends to be the first Qatari to visit the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
Al Suwaidi also spoke in favor of the normalization ties between Qatar and Israel. “We can’t banish Israel and Israel can’t leave. People need to be realistic,” the Qatari national said.
In response to the television appearance, pro-Palestine group Qatar Youth Against Normalization (QAYON) issued a statement, saying the interview was a “condemned act of normalization. Not to mention this kind of rhetoric falls under the twisted Zionist narrative about alleged peace.”
“The continuous occupation of Palestine is not a justification for the acceptance of the current situation as Al Suwaidi described, and will not erase the dark history of the Zionist entity and will not make us forget the bloodshed and tyranny that was carried out against the Palestinian people,” QAYON said.
Following the comments, members of the Al-Suwaidi took to social media to announce that they had separated themselves from his actions and claims.