Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa has called the Muslim Brotherhood movement a “terrorist” group, amid an ongoing Gulf diplomatic crisis in which four countries severed diplomatic ties with Qatar.
Last month Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with Qatar – accusing it of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and harbouring “terrorism” in the region. Qatar has strongly denied the charges.
Speaking at the news conference after the meeting, Khalid bin Ahmed said that the Muslim Brotherhood movement “shed the blood” of Egyptian people and had “conspired against our states”.
“We consider the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group and anyone who shows sympathy with them will be tried on this basis,” Khalid bin Ahmed said.
A Muslim Brotherhood newspaper based in Bahrain rejected the minister’s statement on the group.
The weekly al-Nabaa paper said: “Nations are only concerned with inciting segments of society, and describing them in an unacceptable way.
“Allowing them to attack, provoke, and undermine society under these circumstances is very strange, and serves only the enemies of the country who do not have its best interest at heart. The attacks refer to patriotic segments of the Bahraini society.
“How can such disrespect and slander be allowed to continue under delicate and sensitive circumstances engulfing the region,” it added, without explicitly referring to the Gulf crisis.
The paper went on to emphasise its support for the Bahraini ruling family, and asserted its willingness to back it up in the face of a popular uprising.
The foreign minister’s words are a far cry from his previous statements on the Muslim Brotherhood movement.
After the Saudi decision to classify the group as a “terrorist” one, Khalid bin Ahmed stated that the Muslim Brotherhood branch in Bahrain enjoyed a “special status” unlike the state of its peers in Egypt and other Gulf countries, and praised the role of the group in the preservation of civil peace.
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Bahrain hold various positions of power in parliament, security services, and judicial bodies, for which Bahrain has been widely criticised.
Twitter users across the region were quick to respond to Khalid bin Ahmed’s remarks.
Translation: The Bahraini foreign minister says that anyone who symphathises with the Muslim Brotherhood will be charged with terrorism. I don’t know how some members of his country’s parliament will be tried since they are MB.
Translation: Bahraini FM: The Muslim Brotherhood are a terrorist group and whoever is affiliated with them will be charged. 60% of your population is Shia, 20% are MB … are you demented????
And a Bahrain-based user questioned the motives behind Khalid bin Ahmed’s speech.
هل ستكون هناك إجراءات قانونية ضد أخوان المسلمين في البحرين وضد من يتضامن معهم ؟
أم أنه خطاب إعلامي فقط؟ pic.twitter.com/n84v4XmjnI
— أحمد المديني (@ALMADINI2012) July 5, 2017
Translation: Will be there legal ramifications against the Muslim Brotherhood in Bahrain and all those who support them? Or is this just a speech for media?
In a joint statement made on Wednesday at a news conference in Egypt’s capital, the boycotting nations said that Qatar’s response to their 13-point list of demands was “not serious”.
The demands included Doha ending its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and severing ties with Saudi Arabia’s rival, Iran.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has accused the boycotting states of undermining the country’s sovereignty.