Dubai Threatens Youssef Qaradawi With Arrest Over Criticism Of UAE
Dubai’s police chief has launched a war of words with an influential Qatar-based cleric who criticised the United Arab Emirates for revoking the visas of Syrians demonstrating against the regime in Damascus.
Dhahi Khalfan al-Tamim late on Sunday threatened to arrest Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi after the senior cleric branded the decision to revoke the Syrians’ visas as “forbidden” under religious law, reminding the rulers of the United Arab Emirates that the protesters were only “human”.
The sheikh has been an enthusiastic champion of Arab revolutions and has ties with Islamist groups in the region that have emerged as major beneficiaries of the political upheaval.
Appearing live on Al Jazeera, the Doha-based satellite TV channel, Sheikh Qaradawi said the leader of the Syrian opposition had asked him to raise the issue of around 100 families that face the threat of expulsion from the UAE after taking part in a February rally against President Bashar al-Assad outside the Syrian consulate in Dubai.
The UAE government has said the visas of around 30 Syrians were revoked for unidentified political activity unrelated to the demonstration. Human Rights Watch, the campaigning group, has called on the Emirates to reverse the decision.
The UAE, while active in Arab attempts to end the bloodshed in Syria, is concerned about the political unpredictability of a post-Assad environment.
Qatar takes a more proactive role in seeking to shape the changes sweeping the Middle East.
The Egyptian-born Sheikh Qaradawi is a Qatari citizen and has close ties with the ruling family, although officials in Doha say he does not represent their views.