Cablegate: Rare Public Demonstration in Qatar: Solidarity
PP RUEHDE RUEHDIR
DE RUEHDO #0339 0881450
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291450Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY DOHA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6433
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS DOHA 000339
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ASEC PREL IZ QA
SUBJECT: RARE PUBLIC DEMONSTRATION IN QATAR: SOLIDARITY
1. (U) The Qatari Central Municipal Council organized a
"rally" the afternoon of March 28 to show solidarity with
Iraq. It lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes. The event took place
at a central location along the city's corniche. Participants
numbered a maximum of 400 and mostly included high-school and
university-level young men. Female participants added up to
about 15. These student groups appeared to have been bused to
the demonstration in an organized fashion by Qatar's private
bus company. Nine or 10 Council members also participated.
Less than 150 individuals stayed to listen to the speakers.
Two Takes on "Jihad"
2. (U) Slogans raised during the demonstration called for the
unity of Iraq and an end to sectarian violence. The Municipal
Council chairman spoke to the crowd, saying that "occupation"
of Iraq and Palestine was the cause of the suffering of the
respective peoples. Another speaker, said to be an Iraqi
professor, said that the Iraqi resistance was "jihad." Dr.
Ali al-Quradaghi, a prominent cleric in Qatar and an Iraqi
Kurd, spoke about lawful menas of jihad to resist foreign
3. (SBU) An Embassy contact told us March 29 that the
demonstration was probably not the Municipal Council's idea.
Rather, others -- perhaps activists at the university -- had
managed it behind the scenes for political reasons. He told
us that, in granting a permit for the event, the GOQ wanted
to show that it allows free speech and is "democratic."
Another Embassy contact noted that the demonstration, which
appeared to be "manufactured," did not draw a large crowd.
4. (SBU) Press reports called the demonstration a "rally,"
avoiding the term "protest" or "demonstration." This, and the
fact that there were no signs of anti-Americanism, indicate
that the event was carefully managed. The demonstration
probably received some sort of semi-official backing. We note
that there has been no recent single political event in Iraq
to trigger such a demonstration; therefore, the exact purpose
of the event, from the Qatari point of view, is not entirely
clear: It does not seem to have vented dangerous tensions,
and it does not say anything particular about Qatar's aloof
policy toward Iraq.