DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates summoned Qatar's ambassador to formally protest the comments of an outspoken pro-Muslim Brotherhood cleric who criticized the Gulf country's policies toward Islamist groups, the UAE's official news agency reported Sunday.
WAM news agency said the UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, told Qatari ambassador Fares el-Naimi that Egyptian-born Youssef el-Qaradawi should be stopped and condemned by Doha's leadership for expressing comments critical of the UAE.
It was a rare public display of the growing rift between Gulf Arab nations and Qatar, which was a staunch supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and across the region until the military in Cairo ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
Following the coup, which came after millions demonstrated for Morsi to leave office, Qatar found its influence in the Middle East diminishing. Meanwhile other Gulf Cooperation Council nations such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait stepped in with billions of dollars in aid to help the military-backed regime in Egypt wade through its volatile transition.
The UAE claims Islamist groups backed by the Muslim Brotherhood have sought to topple its Western-backed ruling system. It has jailed Islamists and shut down the Brotherhood's branch in the UAE.
El-Qaradawi, who is based in Qatar's capital city of Doha, often uses his Friday sermons that are broadcast on state television to criticize Egypt and the UAE's clampdown on the Brotherhood.
"The Emirates stands against all Islamic rule, and punishes its followers and detains them," el-Qaradawi said in his sermon from the week before last.
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