DOHA (Reuters) - A Facebook page entitled “Freedom Revolution March 16 Qatar” calling for the downfall of Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, has attracted the approval of 1,646 people, the page showed on Thursday.
Demands listed on the site, which shows a photo of the Emir crossed out in red, also include the removal of a U.S. military base from Qatari soil and the exclusion of the emir’s influential wife Sheikha Mouza from public affairs.
It was impossible to verify how many of those who “liked” the page were in Qatar or were Qatari nationals or whether any protest would materialise on March 16.
Qatar, a close U.S. ally, is viewed as one of the least vulnerable countries to the wave of political unrest shaking the Arab world. The Gulf Arab state’s copious natural gas reserves have made it super-rich, with a tiny population about 350,000 nationals enjoying the world’s highest per capita income.
Sheikh Hamad seized power from his father in a bloodless coup in 1995 and in 2003 declared his son Tamim heir apparent.
Political reform has stagnated with parliamentary elections repeatedly postponed. Qatar has no organised opposition groups.
The Facebook site calls for political reforms and more welfare benefits for Qataris. It says Qatar should consider cutting ties with Iran and with Israel, which had a trade office in the emirate until Doha closed it in 2009 in protest at an Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.
The Facebook site shows a picture of Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani meeting an Israeli official, with the caption: “Why did Al Jazeera not publish these photos?”
Qatar hosts and funds Al Jazeera, a Doha-based news channel that has covered unrest in Tunisia and Egypt extensively.
Reporting by Regan E. Doherty; Editing by Alistair Lyon