Cairo: More than 200 Egyptian employees at IslamOnline, a Qatari-owned Islamic website in Egypt, are on a strike in protest against what they say is an attempt by Qatari owners to lay them off.

“A big question mark has arisen after the Qatari Cultural Call Society (which owns the site) last month sent a committee of lawyers and administrators allegedly to overhaul the site,” said Moustafa Salama, one of the protesters.

“Much to our surprise, we learnt that 90 per cent of the employees will be sacked and the headquarters of the site will be moved from Cairo to Doha,” he added.

There was no immediate comment from officials at the company operating the website at the 6th of October City outside Cairo. IslamOnline has generated wide popularity among Muslims since it started in late 1990s.

The owning institution is chaired by famous Qatari Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Youssef Al Qaradawi, who is reportedly in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment.

Protesters claim that Qatar plans to control the site and impose a new editorial policy on it.

“We call on the Egyptian government to interfere in order to stop this plan and solve our problem with the Qatari owners,” said another striker, who gave his name only as Ahmed.

Relations between Egypt and Qatar are occasionally strained due to what Cairo says are the anti-Egypt policy espoused by the Qatari news TV Al Jazeera.