Days after Qatar and its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council members agreed to a security pact to smooth over simmering regional tensions, rumors persist about what exactly Doha has pledged to do to calm its neighbors.
One rumor – that Qatar promised to deport Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters – was debunked last night by prominent Islamic scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi, who called the idea that he had been asked to leave “totally baseless.”
Responding to reports that the Egyptian-born Qatari cleric had been sent to Tunisia or Yemen, Al Qaradawi said on his official Twitter and Facebook accounts that he has spent over 53 years in Qatar preaching, calling and writing about Islam “without anyone telling me before what to say, what not to say or why are you saying that.”
ما يشاع عن نقل مقر إقامتي إلى تونس أو إلى أي عاصمة أخرى محض افتراء لا أساس له وهو من تمنيات الفارغين والحالمين ولن يتحقق إن شاء الله
— يوسف القرضاوي (@alqaradawy) April 20, 2014
Translation: Rumors about me relocating and moving to Tunisia or any other country are nothing but baseless slurs on me. They are the hopes of the dreamers, and they will not come true, God willing.
He added in his statement that his “personal position does not reflect the position of the Qatari government.”
Diplomatic tension between Qatar and some of its Gulf neighbors rose last month after Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Doha, citing a failure to adhere to a unified GCC policy “to ensure non-interference, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any member state.”
The move came weeks after Abu Dhabi summoned Qatar’s ambassador to the UAE to account for a broadcast sermon made by Al Qaradawi that criticized Gulf support for the new Egyptian government.
The military-backed regime ousted President Mohamed Morsi last summer, who was part of the Muslim Brotherhood party.
Many Gulf governments see the Islamist party as a threat to their countries’ stability, and Saudi Arabia designated the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization last month.
Today, Al Qaradawi said in his statement that he “loves all the countries of the Gulf, and they all love me: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Bahrain.”
“I consider them one country and one house,” he added.
Egypt weighs in
In the wake of last month’s ambassadors’ recall, Egypt also said it would not send its envoy back to Doha until Qatar stands against “the grave challenges it is facing.”
Today, Egypt’s State Information Service quoted a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry as saying its ambassador would not return to Qatar until the country “keeps its promises” and implements last week’s agreement.
The spokesperson specified that agreement involved “handing over outlaws, stopping spreading rumors and information that incite hatred and violence via Al Jazeera TV channel and putting an end to interference in Egypt’s domestic affairs.”
The Qatar-funded Al Jazeera is seen by many critics as biased in favor of the Brotherhood, claims that the channel denies. The network has not made any public statements about its coverage following the Gulf agreement.