A campaign set to launch in Qatar next month will urge visitors and foreign residents to cover up and respect the Islamic state’s modest clothing culture.
The campaign, called “Reflect your Respect,” is set to kick off in the small Middle Eastern country on June 20, just before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins, Doha News reports. Women and children will pass out leaflets, along with flowers and chocolates, in public places to spread the following message: “If you are in Qatar, you are one of us. Help us preserve Qatar’s culture and values, please dress modestly in public places.”
A group of female Qatari activists organized the campaign -- which is already being promoted on social media -- as a response to what they deem a “cultural invasion” of outsiders’ more revealing clothing, Gulf News reports.
As Al Arabiya News points out, 85 percent of the country’s population is made up of foreign residents. In addition, Qatar is set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a major sporting event that will likely spur on a mass influx of foreigners to the small country.
— Amad (@amadshk) May 25, 2014
As depicted in the group’s dress code diagram, shoulders to the knees should be covered. (That means no crop tops, mini skirts or tank tops.) Men, apparently, shouldn't reveal chest hair, and no, leggings aren't an acceptable alternative to pants.
Campaign spokeswoman Umm Abdullah told Doha News she hopes educating foreigners will preserve the country’s cultural customs.
“[W]e don’t want [our kids] to end up imitating this – we want to preserve our traditions and our values," she said. "[Expats] have their own places where they don’t have to be covered – but we have the right to go to hospitals, to the market, to the malls, to the beach, without seeing these things.”
Modest attire is not only a local custom though; it’s part of Qatari law. Article 57 of the state’s constitution says, “[A]biding by public order and morality, observing national traditions and established customs is a duty of all who reside in the State of Qatar or enter its territory.”
Though Doha News notes the dress code campaign is not officially sponsored by the State of Qatar, the state’s tourism office advises that people should “dress modestly” when visiting the country. In addition, Qatar’s Tourism Authority advises people wear lightweight fabrics -- in lieu of skin-baring clothes -- in order to protect themselves against the extreme summer temperatures that often exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The campaign is triggering mixed reactions from expatriates and nationals alike.
Nada Ramadan, an Egyptian expat, told Al Arabiya News: “We should not forget the golden rule: when in Rome, do what the Romans do. We must respect the country’s local customs and beliefs.”
Others think the dress restrictions are unfair for non-Muslim visitors:
— vani saraswathi (@vanish_forever) May 27, 2014
— Geraint Rhys Music (@GeraintRhys1) May 27, 2014
@reflect_respect More power to you. But westerners are racist and insensitive when we expect Muslims to show their face in the west?
— Kira McLean (@kmcleann) May 27, 2014
What do you think of the campaign? Let us know in the comments below.