(Reuters) - An influential group of Islamist scholars has rejected its inclusion in a terrorism blacklist compiled by four Arab countries boycotting Qatar, the Gulf Arab state where it is based.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain added the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) to the list last week, saying it used “Islamic rhetoric as a cover to facilitate terrorist activities.”
The group, listed along with another entity and 11 individuals, dismissed the move as unacceptable.
“These accusations against IUMS are baseless and we consider this attempt to weaken the leadership of an institution that represents 90,000 scholars and hundreds of millions of Muslims for political purposes unacceptable and illogical,” the group said in a statement on its Twitter account.
The union was formed in 2004 mostly by clerics belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Arab world’s oldest and largest Islamist organisation, and is chaired by prominent preacher Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi.
Some Gulf states are wary of the Brotherhood’s acceptance of the ballot box, a position that challenges the Gulf tradition of dynastic rule and offers an alternative interpretation of the role of Islam in politics.
The four countries cut ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of financing militants in Syria and allying with Iran, their regional foe. Qatar denies the charges.
Members of the union include the Saudi cleric Salman al-Awdah, who was arrested by Saudi authorities in September, the Tunisian Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Ennahda party, and Moroccan scholar Ahmed Raissouni.
Reporting by Ali Abdelaty and Aziz El Yaakoubi, Editing by William Maclean