REG 181223 Controversial_Qatar campaign
Caption: The controversial campaign poster

Tunis: Qatar Charity was forced to apologise to Tunisians and call off a campaign launched in Doha to raise funds and assist Tunisian families. A poster for the campaign, plastered in Doha, showed a middle-aged woman drudging through the snow with ‘Below Zero’ typed above and with the message “QR100 provides warmth for Tunisia”, followed by a number to send the money to.

A picture of the poster was widely circulated in Tunisia, triggering humiliation and generating angry comments and calls to the government to contact Qatar and seek an apology for the campaign.

There are no details about who will benefit and how the funds would be distributed. It looks very suspicious

- Nasro

Using social media, particularly Facebook, Tunisians condemned the poster and the campaign to raise funds, saying that they were totally unjustifiable and amounted to humiliating the country.

Nasro said the campaign was not as well-intentioned as it seemed. “We want the government to find out who came up with the idea and which party in Tunisia called for it. There are no details about who will benefit and how the funds would be distributed. It looks very suspicious,” he posted.

TinTin 26 said there was no reason for the campaign and that Tunisians could handle their situation without the need for a foreign charity group.

Rourou said Qatar had no business interfering in the internal affairs of Tunisia.

“They should keep away from us. It is our country and we do know how to handle it,” he posted.

Rimi 16 on social media condemned the poster as “an insult to the people of Tunisia.” Adding “We have reached such a stage because of the Tunisians who brought the country to economic and social misery,” he posted.

Rimi 16 said the Qatari group is suspected of supporting terrorism in Iraq and Syria.

Comments approving the campaign insisted the poster was not humiliating and reflected the fact that some Tunisian families needed financial assistance to deal with the cold weather, mainly in the mountainous northwestern part of the country.

“We are fine with philanthropic work by states as long as those behind it do not have a political agenda,” Stadestiya posted.

Qatar Charity said that they were aware that the campaign was interpreted by Tunisians as “inappropriate and touched the feelings of the Tunisian people” and expressed “its understanding of all the criticisms and observations from the brothers in Tunisia.”

In a statement issued late on Saturday, the Charity rendered an apology, said it gave directives to take down the posters and stressed that the campaign “was never intended to harm Tunisia or its honourable people.”

It added that the poster to assist families in Tunisia was part of a “Below Zero” campaign across countries facing cold weather conditions.

However, Tunisians said that the humiliation could not be eliminated by an apology.

“This apology will not have any impact because Tunisia remains a towering country despite its limited financial resources,” Sayf Ben Ali posted.

The campaign and the controversy it generated came days after Tunisia’s Prime Minister Yousuf Chahed visited Saudi Arabia and oversaw the signing of deals related to development and agriculture.

Tunisia was one of several Arab countries that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman visited as part of his tour before and after the G20 in Argentina.