Manama: Yousuf Al Qaradawi, the Egypt-born Qatari religious scholar at the centre of a controversy between Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said that he would not leave Qatar, where he is currently based.
Reports have claimed that the scholar would leave Doha in the wake of a deal on Thursday between Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE with their fellow GCC member Qatar to reinforce commitment to GCC views and principles.
The three countries had pulled out their ambassadors on March 5 to show their frustration with the policy of Qatar, insisting that they would not reinstate them until Doha changed its policy in the region.
Qatar has been requested to end its support to the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation that some of the other GCC countries have banned for alleged links with terrorism.
Qatar has also been asked not to allow religious preachers to attack GCC countries or criticise their policies.
Al Qaradawi was among the preachers who reportedly used their Friday sermons to criticise GCC countries, especially after they supported the political change in Egypt that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood last July. The sermons would air on Qatari state television.
Rumours have surfaced that he would leave Qatar for Turkey, Sudan or Tunisia. The North African country has denied the scholar would settle there.
“What is being said about me leaving is baseless and is mere wishful thinking by dreamers,” Al Qaradawi said in remarks published by Qatari daily Al Sharq on Sunday.
“It will never come true and I tell these people that it will not happen. I have been here in Qatar for more than 35 years, delivering sermons and lectures, teaching, preaching, presenting fatwas, writing and taking part in useful activities in several official institutions throughout the Qatari community. No one has ever asked me why I did or I did not do or say something,” he said.
Al Qaradawi said that he had known four of Qatar’s rulers and that he was close to all of them.
“None of them at any time said anything to blame or criticise me. I am particularly close to the Father Emir [Former Emir Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani who abdicated in June] and the current Emir, Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, and I love them dearly,” he said.
The scholar said that his statements did not reflect the views of the Qatari government.
“I do hold any official position and the views I express are all mine and reflect my own opinion,” he said. “I am part of Qatar. I came here when I was 35 years old and today I am 88. I will stay in Qatar and I will be buried here, unless God decides otherwise. I love Qatar and Qatar loves me. I love all segments of the society and they, including children, reciprocate my love.”
The scholar added that he had excellent rapports with all GCC states and that he had been honoured by them.