DUBAI May 28 Descendents of the founding father
of Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi brand of Islam have sought to distance
themselves from Qatar's ruling family, according to a statement
published on Sunday, in a further sign of a rift among Gulf Arab
In the front-page statement, Saudi Arabia's Okaz newspaper
said that 200 descendents of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab demanded the
renaming of a Qatar mosque named after the 18th-century cleric
even though most Qataris practice Wahhabism.
The demands come after Qatari state media last week
published purported remarks by the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad
al-Thani, criticising Gulf rhetoric against Iran and U.S.
Qatar denied making the comments, saying its news agency had
been hacked, but Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
allowed their state-backed media to continue running the story,
Although the statement in Okaz did not mention Qatar by
name, the statement referred to "the emir of one of the Gulf
states" who had built a mosque named after Ibn Abd al-Wahhab,
claiming that the cleric was his great grandfather. Qatar's
state mosque, opened in 2011, is known as the Sheikh Mohammed
ibn Abd al-Wahhab mosque.
"We, therefore, demand that the name of the mosque be
changed for it does not carry its true Salafi path," the
statement said, according to the Arabic-language Okaz.
Other Saudi newspapers have carried similar reports.
Qatar's ruling al-Thani family traces its history to Najd,
the central and northern part of Saudi Arabia where Ibn Abd
al-Wahhab was from, but it is not clear whether there is a
direct family link to him.
The rift has also prompted authorities in Saudi Arabia and
the UAE to block the main website of Qatar-based al Jazeera
television, which Riyadh and Abu Dhabi see as critical of their
governments. The station says it is an independent news service.
Ties between Qatar and some other Gulf Arab states suffered
an eight-month breakdown in 2014 over Qatar's alleged support
for the Muslim Brotherhood, the political ideology of which
challenges the principle of dynastic rule.
(Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by David Goodman)