World Bulletin/News Desk
An influential Qatar-based scholar whose sermons strained ties between Doha and its neighbours said on Wednesday he would resume preaching after a gap of several weeks, dismissing a suggestion he had been silent due to the diplomatic tensions.
"Stopping the sermons is for personal reasons. It has nothing to do with the current situation," Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born cleric critical of the authorities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), told Reuters.
"I will start the sermons again not this Friday but the coming one, God willing," he said in brief remarks.
Asked if he had plans to leave Qatar to ease pressure on the government, Qaradawi, a naturalised Qatari citizen, said he would do no such thing.
"What you need to understand is that I'm a part of Qatar and they are a part of me. I've been here for more that 35 years, I'm a citizen," he said.
The move apparently failed to deter Qaradawi, who said in a sermon shortly afterwards, apparently addressing the UAE: "Were you angry at me because of two lines I said about you? What if I gave an entire sermon just on your scandals and injustices."
On March 5, in an unprecedented move, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar, accusing Doha of failing to abide by an accord not to interfere in each others' internal affairs. Qatar denies the charge.
The three states were especially angry at Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement that reveres Qaradawi and whose ideology challenges the principle of conservative dynastic rule long dominant in the Gulf.
The two countries are among several Gulf Arab states that have provided billions of dollars in aid to Cairo, including to build clinics, schools and housing units, since the overthrow.