Al Jazeera

Qatari connection stokes debate over Denmark’s first mosque

Copenhagen, Denmark – Perched on top of a tall column at a road junction in the Norrebro neighbourhood of Copenhagen, an enormous American-style ringed doughnut demands to be noticed.

“De Angelis. Delightfully different DONUTS,” reads the sign. Further down the street, a mock lighthouse advertises a self-storage warehouse, vying for attention on the busy skyline with the branded flags of car showrooms and industrial chimneys.

Next to the lighthouse is the latest vertical addition to this mundane urban landscape that is currently stoking controversy in the Danish capital. A slender minaret topped with a small crescent marks the site of Denmark’s first purpose-built mosque.

Continue reading

Standard
Al Jazeera

UK government ‘facilitating forced labour’ of domestic workers

London, United Kingdom – British politicians have backed calls for the government to reverse controversial changes to visa rules for thousands of migrant workers, which anti-slavery campaigners say have made the UK a “significant facilitator of forced labour”.

In a report published earlier this month, members of a parliamentary committee examining government proposals to tackle what it has called “the scourge of modern slavery” warned that changes to the visa regime had “strengthened the hand of the slave master” and said: “The moral case for revisiting this issue is urgent and overwhelming.”

Continue reading

Standard
Reportage

Desperate lives in Qatar’s labour camps

Doha, Qatar — In a dusty street on the shabby outskirts of Doha, men crowd around makeshift stalls selling pallid fruit and withered vegetables.

It is a blazing hot Friday morning and conversations in Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and Nepali intermingle as Qatar’s migrant labourers take advantage of their only free time of the week to shop for groceries, meet friends and rest aching bodies after 70-hour-plus working weeks on the ubiquitous construction sites of the ambitious Gulf state.

The Industrial Area, where many of the crowded labour camps accommodating this ever-expanding workforce are located, is a few miles and a far cry from the glass, steel and gaudy neon seafront towers that have become the airbrushed postcard image of Qatar’s gas boom-fuelled transformation into one of the world’s wealthiest and most influential nations.

Broken mechanical machinery, smashed-up vehicles, pot-holed roads, fetid rubbish heaps and piles of rubble as high as the surrounding low-rise dormitory buildings, ringed by washing lines of faded blue overalls, give this dense grid of streets the feel of a place where the human spirit has also been crushed.

Continue reading

Standard