Cairo: Qatar’s Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani has started a visit to Britain amid protests over his country’s support for terrorism.
Opponents to the visit plan a protest outside the British parliament where Tamim is due to give an address later on Monday.
The hashtag #OpposeQatarVisit has been trending on Twitter since the Qatari ruler arrived in London on Sunday.
Banners, meanwhile, appeared on main London roads condemning the visit during which Tamim is due to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May and other government officials.
One banner reads: “If a country was accused of paying $1 billion in a ransom to terrorist groups… then why is the UK government rolling out the red carpet for the Qatar Emir?”
Qatar is accused of bankrolling terrorists groups in the Arab region including Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Libya and Egypt
The BBC has recently disclosed new evidence showing 1 billion-dollars paid in ransom by Doha for the release of 28 Qataris seized in Iraq was funneled to fund terrorism.
Protesting Tamim’s visit to Britian, several rights groups have written to May, asking her to raise Qatar’s backing of terror groups with the Emir during their meeting as well as the abuse of labourers in the country.
“The message sent to the British prime minister explains how many Qataris and foreign workers have been subjected to abuses by the Qatari authorities, but their perpetrators have not faced justice,” Masoud Issa, an official at the Britain-based Arab Organisation for Human Rights, told pan-Arab newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat.
In June last year, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and transportation links with Qatar over its support for extremist groups.
The anti-Qatar bloc has also designated as terrorists several militants and groups associated with Doha.