Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said the Muslim Brotherhood figures who are hosted by his country "can't practice politics against any other Arab country", in a veiled reference to Egypt which branded the Islamist faction a terrorist group.
Sheikh Tamim, giving an interview for the first time since becoming Qatar’s ruler last year, spoke on Thursday about the relationship of the oil-rich Gulf state with Egypt’s Brotherhood in an interview with CNN’s Christian Amanpour.
He claimed that Doha had backed “every Egyptian government” following the ouster of former strongman Hosni Mubarak.
Qatar, known to be a strong supporter of the Brotherhood, has come under attack by Egypt and from other Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, for backing the Islamist group.
Since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July, many Brotherhood figures and allies have fled Egypt, mostly to Qatar or Turkey.
The emir acknowledged that many of members of the Muslim Brotherhood members who left Egypt had stayed in Qatar. "Many of them left and some of them came to Qatar because they were traveling and they were afraid,” he said.
He stated that many of them are still in Qatar, but asserted that they “can’t practice politics against any other Arab country” as they “know the rules” of Qatar.
Seven Egyptian Islamist figures, including members and allies of the Muslim Brotherhood, were asked to leave Qatar earlier this month, according to sources close to the Islamist group.
The Masr Al-Arabiya news website, known for being close to the Brotherhood, as well as the Turkish Anadolu news agency, quoted Brotherhood sources confirming that Islamic preacher Wagdi Ghoneim in addition to Amr Darrag, Gamal Abdel-Sattar, Essam Teleima, Ashraf Badr El-Din, Mahmoud Hussein and Hamza Zawbaa -- all either members of the Brotherhood or its now defunct political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party -- were asked to leave the country.
FJP figure Darrag released a statement, published by the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website, saying: "We appreciate the great role of the State of Qatar in supporting the Egyptian people in their revolution against the military junta.”
He added: "In order to avoid causing any embarrassment for the State of Qatar, which we found to be a very welcoming and supportive host, some symbols of the Muslim Brotherhood and its political wing — the Freedom and Justice Party — who were asked by authorities to move their residence outside the State of Qatar, have now honoured that request."
Discussing Hamas – an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood -- Tamim described the Islamist movement as an “important part of the Palestinian people.”
"What is the difference between Hamas ten years ago and Hamas now? I believe the difference is that Hamas are more realistic now,” said Tamim.
“They believe in peace and they want peace. But it's for the other party to believe in peace as well and to be more realistic."