Asked her take on the World Cup being hosted in Doha, Coates lamented the death of "hundreds of people up to a thousand.... being in sweltering heat to build this stadium" but stated also "I hear Qatar is a lovely place for other reasons." (The number of casualties may have been far smaller or far larger, as explained here.) However, Maher, toward Coates, remarked
It probably would not be a lovely place for any woman who wasn't wearing appropriate dress and wasn't paying attention to Sharia law and maybe, you know, if you leave the house without permission of a guardian, O.K., that's the shit that goes on in places like Qatar that we need to talk about and somehow the world doesn't because that's Islamophobia- which is bullshit. It's violation of every liberal principle. women are equal. So that's what I have against Qatar.
Were it to rate that statement's accuracy, Politifact would probably give it a "half true" because, as The Times of Israel observes, Qatar "is neither as liberal as Dubai in the United Arab Emirates nor as conservative as parts of Saudi Arabia." While "Qatar’s laws are rooted in Islamic Shariah law, but also include civil laws"
Most Qatari women wear the modest head covering or headscarf, known as hijab, and long black robes known as abayas. Qatari men dress in traditional long, loose white garments known as a “thoub” — pronounced “thuwb"'''
Qatar’s laws punish “offending” Islam or any of its rites or beliefs, as well as committing blasphemy against Islam, Christianity, or Judaism.
The circulation of texts that provoke religious strife or contain material that defames one of these three religions is a punishable offense. The government closely monitors and censors websites, newspapers, magazines and books if they display content deemed as derogatory of Islamic values.
Authorities generally permit various faiths to practice privately, but proselytizing for any religion other than Islam may result in a prison sentence. Hotels and stores, however, display Christmas trees and decorations in December.
The only religions registered in Qatar to have their own places of worship are Islam and Christianity, according to the US State Department.
Notably and wisely, Coates stayed silent as both Maher and the camera focused on her. WarnerMedia likely would not have been amused if one of CNN's A-List hosts had agreed with Maher, often accused of "Islamophobia" for merely addressing the radical Islamic practices of some Muslim countries. Sometimes, silence is golden.
Maher understands "there are bad things that go on in countries like this that we should talk about," which go well beyond the mere ban of alcohol sales at a a prominent and popular athletic venue. Instead, discussion of Islam or radical Islam is assiduously avoided.
Avoided not only by a careful Coates, but also by both her network and MSNBC, which report extensively (though insufficiently) on protests inside Iran, typically without even mentioning the terms "Islamic," "Islamist," "radical Islamic," "Islamist," or even "religion." Religious fanaticism is intrinsic to the uprising in Iran, yet is rarely spoken of.
I don't know how the events are treated by Fox News, though that network probably also has been downplaying the impact of religious fanaticism in that Mideast nation and probably elsewhere in the region. Avid support for what it euphemistically terms "religious liberty" has become an obsession for the right, rationalizing discrimination while posing as guardians of spiritual faith. Confronting the role of religious extremism in violent upheavals abroad is one instance of wokeism which conservatives rarely criticize.
Bill Maher may get the details wrong, as he seemed to do when he implied that Qatar strictly adheres to Sharia law. And it's unfortunate that it takes an unabashed atheist to question Islamism. However, both the left (for its reasons) and the right (for far different reasons) want to disappear the issue of religion from events in other parts of the world. If there are few others than a centrist, Democratic-leaning libertine to keep it- almost- in the national conversation, that's what we're left with.