About 5,000 people were deprived of their Qatari citizenship because they were breaching Qatari and Gulf laws prohibiting dual nationality, the Qatari Foreign Minister has said.
"The Qatari law does not permit dual citizenship and we took action against individuals who held double nationality," said Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Bin Jaber Al Thani, First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister.
"Dual citizenship is not permissible even under the provisions of the security agreement in force among the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] countries," Shaikh Hamad said in an interview with Al Jazeera on Wednesday night.
In the first official statement on the issue, after media had for months speculated over an alleged move by the Qatari authorities that could affect a Saudi tribe, Shaikh Hamad said the decision did not concern only the Al Murrah tribe, but all those who were breaching the law.
"We have implemented the measure on all those holding dual citizenship, not only the Al Murrah people … the Al Murrah tribe has been long settled here and is a respectable tribe, whose members have also been Qatari officials."
Asked whether the decision was taken because of the Al Murrah tribe's alleged participation in a coup attempt to overthrow the Qatari leadership in 1996, the minister denied it.
"Those involved in the issue were soldiers and have been judged accordingly a long time back," he said.
Shaikh Hamad also said that many of those hit by the provision have referred their cases to the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), which has submitted a report on the cases to the Cabinet.
"They have a right to raise their cases … There could have been some mistakes [in withdrawing the citizenship of some people], but they will be duly addressed by the authorities."
According to a statement issued by NHRC last week, the committee has requested the authorities to review all cases to ensure the legality and legitimacy of the withdrawal procedures.
The committee, however, added that all those hit by the provision who have adjusted their status will continue to be granted jobs and services in Qatar as before.
"Those who have adjusted their legal condition have been allowed to return to their former jobs in the state in addition to enjoying all the services provided to the Qatari citizen, including education, health care and other sectors."
The minister said a new nationality law could be issued by the end of the year to clarify who is eligible for Qatari citizenship.
The minister said under the new constitution which came into force on June 9 a Qatari national is each person living on Qatari soil since 1932.
"Dual citizenship is not permissible even under the provisions of the security agreement in force among GCC countries."