In a viral video online, a UAE poet and media celebrity, faced a wave of backlash for statements that were perceived as "racist" against Indian and Bengali workers in his country.
المقيمين العرب لهم كل الاحترام بس بعد في هنود وباكستانيين دكاتره ومهندسين .. ويقول عن الآسيويين اعوذ بالله!! هالانسان مريض ولا يعرف يتكلم وقمة في العنصرية .. طيب شيتي اللي سرقهم أسيوي عطوه مليارات ماعطوها العرب الموجودين عندهم ..تناقض !— نوف بنت ناصر آل ثاني (@Mi_Amore_Qtr) April 11, 2020
Translation: "Arab residents of the UAE have all my respect, but there are Indian and Pakistani doctors and engineers too. He can't seem to stand Asians! This person is sick, unable to speak properly and so racist."
In his short video, Tariq Al-Mehyas addressed Arab expats in the UAE, reassuring them that they are welcome in his country and other Gulf countries, despite the economic and social pressure created by the coronavirus crisis.
He highlighted a prior controversy, in which a well-known Kuwaiti actress's remarks targeted expats in general and asked for them to be deported, so as not to overwhelm the health system.
Al-Mehyas, in an attempt to patch things up, said that "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."
المدعو طارق المحياس لا يمثل إلا نفسه في كافة مقاطع الفيديو التي ينشرها.— د.حوراء موسى (@HAWRAMOSA) April 11, 2020
أبناء الإمارات ?? التواضع ومحبة الجميع واحترام الكافة والتسامح صفات متأصلة فيهم
أبناء الإمارات ?? يرحبون بالجميع وينبذون العنصرية والكراهية
Translation: "This Tariq Al-Mehyas only represents himself. The UAE people are humble. They're known for tolerance and for loving and respecting everyone. Emiratis welcome everyone and condemn racism and hatred."
Social media commentators were quick to share his statements condemning them as "racist rhetoric" against east Asian nationals, calling on him and other citizens to stop offending residents regardless of where they come from or for what they do.
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
Translation: "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 favor of Asians over Arabs to the extent that most of Emiratis' wives are from either India, Pakistan or the Philippines."
Some Twitter users added that Indians and Bengalis are just as equal to any other nationalities and that they too have doctors and engineers in the UAE.
الأخ طارق المحياس يمثل نفسه ، للأسف يطلع هالكلام من إعلامي ويقلل قيمة إنسان مهما كان جنسيته ترا الهندي او البنقالي هم الي يتعبون في تنظيف شوارعنا ورواتبهم ضئيلة ، وما جزاء الإحسان الا الإحسان المطلوب منا نحترمهم ونعاملهم معاملة زينة مب انقلل من شأنهم— Nabila ? (@3naa10) April 11, 2020
Translation: "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."
Despite the outrage sparked by Al-Mehyas's remarks, some argued that "he intended showing respect to ex-pats, who had felt offended over the last few weeks" and that "he accidentally used the wrong words".
طارق المحياس دائما مبدع وكلامه جدا مهذب ومحترم واتوقع زله لسان ومش مقصوده منه— hamad (@boss12121) April 11, 2020
Translation: "Tariq Al-Mehyas is a great person. He's creative, inspiring and always respectful. He just used the wrong words unintentionally."
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