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International royals

Controversy surrounds Qatari Emir’s visit

Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani arrived in the United Kingdom on Sunday for a visit that has sparked controversy.

The Emir – or head of state – had a stormy reception as Arab activists in London prepared a ‘special welcome’ in the form of a noisy demonstration. Encouragement to demonstrate against Qatar’s continued support for terrorism across the Middle East spread widely on social media.

The demonstration was spurred on by increased awareness of Qatar’s actions. Recently, new evidence that a $1 billion ransom Doha – Qatar’s capital – paid for the release of 28 Qataris kidnapped in Iraq was used to fund terror. Earlier this month, it was also revealed that Abdullah bin Khalid Al-Thani, a former Qatari interior minister linked to financing and promoting terrorism, had re-emerged in Doha after being confined to house arrest.

A permit was granted for a demonstration in front of the Parliament on Monday afternoon. In addition, banners over prominent roads in London have popped up. The hashtag #OpposeQatarVisit featured along with: “If a country was accused of paying $1 billion in a ransom to terrorist groups… then why is the UK government rolling out the red carpet for the Qatar Emir?” #OpposeQatarVisit has also been trending on Twitter.

The Emir’s schedule has not been disclosed officially, but it is expected that he will give a speech about the UK’s relationship with Qatar in Parliament on early in the visit.

Ghassan Ibrahim, a London-based political analyst, said: “The UK must also ask the Emir of Qatar questions about Doha’s continued financial, political and military support for the Al-Nusra Front and other extremists groups in Syria.” He also said: “It is common knowledge that Doha has been supporting extremists groups and organisations that refuse integration in their respective host countries in the West, and Doha provides material help and funds for groups that are bent on dividing societies.”