In a new diplomatic test for Qatar, Egypt’s foreign ministry has summoned the Gulf country’s chargé d’affaires to demand the return of prominent Islamic scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi.

The Egyptian-born cleric, who is now a Qatari citizen and has lived here for decades, is wanted for criticizing the military-backed Egyptian government, the Reuters news agency reports.

Last summer, the armed forces overthrew and imprisoned President Mohamed Mursi, and the administration it installed has since declared his political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization.

Yesterday’s demand from Egypt is the latest indicator of strained ties between Doha and Cairo since Mursi was removed from power. Qatar offered significant support to Mursi’s government, but denies it has any ties with the Muslim Brotherhood itself.

Egypt last summoned Qatar’s envoy in January to formally reject comments made by the Qatari foreign ministry about its harsh tactics when dealing with protesters.

Al Jazeera under fire

Meanwhile, at least five journalists from the Qatar-funded Al Jazeera Media Network remain imprisoned in Egypt. Three Al Jazeera English journalists arrested on Dec. 29 are accused of reporting false news – apparently for interviewing Brotherhood officials.

Al Jazeera Arabic’s Abdullah Al Shami and Al Jazeera Mubashar Misr cameraman Mohammed Badr have also remained in Egyptian custody for more than five months. Badr was acquitted on charges of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood this week, but has yet to be released and was released last night.

The network has called the accusations “baseless.”

An Egyptian prosecutor last week said it would indict some 20 of the network’s reportersfor aiding the Brotherhood. But the defendants have not been named, and it is unclear how many of them actually work for Al Jazeera.

As for Egypt’s call to extradite Al Qaradawi and other critics of its administration, Qatar has not yet commented publicly.

Regional upset

But the religious scholar’s comments in a Jan. 24 sermon that Saudi Arabia and UAE should stop supporting the military-backed Egyptian government have angered some in the Gulf…. see more

source: dohanews