ALEXANDRE GUIRAUD-COINTREAU WRITES – The United Arab Emirates has been insulted and demands the offender stop: Egyptian-born Muslim cleric and head of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated International Federation of Muslim Scholars (IFMS), Yousuf Al Qaradawi, who resides in Doha.
According to Gulf Times, the clash began over the topic of the Muslim Brotherhood, as the UAE imprisoned approximately 30 Emiratis and Egyptians for their alleged association with the Brotherhood. Their sentences ranged from three months to five years.
Qaradawi regularly appears on Al-Jazeera television and is vocal about his support for the deposed Egyptian president, Mohammed Mursi. On the other hand, the UAE supports the military that overthrew Mursi in July 2013. According to Arab News, during Friday prayers last month, in a live, televised sermon from a mosque in Doha, Qaradawi accused the UAE of, “standing against Islamic government, punishing its leaders and putting them in jail.”
Gulf News reported that Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Khaled bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah claimed, “the foreign policy of Qatar is expressed and conveyed only through the official channels of the state. Qatar’s policy is not expressed or conveyed by he media or platforms here and there. What was said by Shaikh Yousuf Al Qaradawi does not reflect the foreign policy of the state of Qatar. We do have full love and respect for our brothers in the UAE.”
However, the UAE does not believe that Qatar has taken a strong enough stance against Qaradawi. As Anwar Garqash, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, stated, “we have held back so that our neighbor can clearly reject such insult, extend sufficient clarification and guarantee that such provocation and defamation will not recur. While the UAE fully respects the freedom of speech, it condemns any talk that incites hatred and violence. Unfortunately, calmness and restraint did not draw the right response from our brothers in Qatar.”
Therefore, according to Al Arabiya, Abu Dhabi summoned Faris Al-Nuaimi, the Qatari ambassador to the UAE, and gave him a memo formally protesting the statements that were made against the country, though their relations remain strong. Even so, it seems that Qatar might have to limit its freedom of speech or risk creating tension with its sister country.