New Delhi: A UAE poet and media celebrity faced backlash after he made a statement that was perceived as ‘racist’ against Indian and Bengali workers in the country.
In a video that was widely shared on social media, Tariq Al-Mehyas can be seen addressing Arab expatriates in the UAE, telling them that they are welcome in the country and other Gulf nations despite fears created by the coronavirus crisis.
He then goes on to say: “Egyptian workers are ones with a high sense of dignity, which makes them irreplaceable. God forbid that expat doctors and engineers from Sudan or Egypt or other Arab countries be replaced by an Indian or a Bengali.”
Al-Mehyas’ comments are being seen as an attempt to assuage expats after popular Kuwaiti actress, Hayat Al Fahad, called for their deportation earlier this month.
Fahad had said expats from the Gulf country needed to be deported to ensure the health system isn’t overwhelmed. In an interview with a Kuwaiti TV station, she said: “We are fed up. If we get sick, there are not (enough) hospitals (for us).”
“Why, if their countries do not want them, should we deal with them? Aren’t people supposed to leave during crises?” she asked.
Al-Mehyas’ statement was soon shared on social media platforms, with people in the region condemning his “racist rhetoric” against Indian and Bengali workers.
Twitter users commented, saying the “Emirates welcome everyone and condemn racism and hatred”.
المدعو طارق المحياس لا يمثل إلا نفسه في كافة مقاطع الفيديو التي ينشرها.
أبناء الإمارات 🇦🇪 التواضع ومحبة الجميع واحترام الكافة والتسامح صفات متأصلة فيهم
أبناء الإمارات 🇦🇪 يرحبون بالجميع وينبذون العنصرية والكراهية
— د.حوراء موسى (@HAWRAMOSA) April 11, 2020
The above tweet roughly translates to: “This Tariq Al-Mehyas only represents himself. The UAE people are humble. They’re known for tolerance and for loving and respecting everyone. Emirates welcome everyone and condemn racism and hatred.”
Another Twitter user (shown below) wrote: “Tariq Al-Mehyas only speaks for himself. It’s unfortunate that a media figure would downgrade other humans regardless of their nationalities. Indians and Bengalis are the ones who clean our streets despite low-wages. We have to respect and treat them well, not speak ill of them.”
One user (below) said: “Tariq Al-Mehyas is a lying hypocrite. How many teachers, engineers, doctors and other workers at oil companies have been laid off and deported? You’ve always been in favour of Asians over Arabs to the extent that most of Emiratis’ wives are from either India, Pakistan or the Philippines.”
طارق المحياس كذاب ومنافق كم عدد المدرسين والمهندسين والأطباء وموظفين شركات النفط العرب اللذينة تم إنهاء خدماتهم وتسفيرهم انتم تفظلون الآسيوين علا العرب والدليل عدد زوجاتكم من دول الهند باكستان والفلبين https://t.co/S1Nh6Zj4ki
— بلا وطن (@aabofasl05) April 11, 2020
Al-Mehyas is also a TV presenter on his show Sawalef.
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