Former Qatari leader slammed on social media for alleged racist remarks

Remarks said to have been leaked about Obama and Rice sparked uproar on social media, with users launching the hashtag “#the_racism_of Hamad_bin_Khalifa” in Arabic.
Tuesday 02/06/2020
Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani received in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington by US President Barack Obama on April 23, 2013. (AFP)
Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani received in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington by US President Barack Obama on April 23, 2013. (AFP)

LONDON - Former Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani called former US President Barack Obama a “slave” and “silly,” according to an alleged leaked audio recording that captured his conversation with late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

“God curse him… that slave… he is silly. I swear to you, Muammar, he is silly,” the former emir is heard saying about Obama.

In the same recording, the former Qatari emir also mocked then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, calling her "the black lady." Rice was the first female African-American secretary of state, holding the post from 2005-2009.

The leaked audio sparked uproar on social media networks, with users launching the hashtag “#the_racism_of Hamad_bin_Khalifa” in Arabic.

One user sought to link the former Qatari leader’s alleged racist remarks with broader conversations about racial injustice in the US. "Hamad bin Khalifa is a racist, so please share this with African-Americans who are protesting today,” the user wrote on Twitter.

 Another wrote: “The only good thing done by al-Gaddafi is that he recorded these meetings with traitors, such as Hamad bin Khalifa and Hamad bin Jassim... The list seems to be long.”

The Arab Weekly could not verify the authenticity of the leaked audio, which was posted on social media by Qatari opposition activist Khalid al-Hail.

A similar recording between Qatar’s former emir and Qaddafi released in 2017 showed the two former leaders attacking Saudi Arabia and the ruling family.

A file photo of former Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. (Reuters)
A file photo of former Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. (Reuters)

In another recording leaked the same year, Qaddafi and former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim seem to be heard discussing plans to weaken and carve up Saudi Arabia.

Hamad bin Jassim did not deny that it was his voice in the recording but said the remarks were simply made to appease Qaddafi.

 In 2013, Sheikh Hamad handed over power to his son, current Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Soon after taking power, Sheikh Tamim named his long-time ally, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser, as prime minister, replacing outgoing premiere Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, a figure whose brash style often irritated neighbouring countries.

During bin Jassim’s era, regional actors were alarmed by Qatar’s increasingly open support for Islamist groups in Egypt and Tunisia and their backing of Islamist fighters in Libya and Syria.

Alarm over Qatar’s interference in regional affairs, however, continued after bin Jassim’s departure.

Doha’s continued alleged support for extremist groups and close ties with Iran eventually led to a diplomatic row in June 2017, with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severing ties with the emirate. Other countries also imposed less stringent sanctions on Doha.

Days after the diplomatic row, Saudi Arabia and its allies issued 13 sweeping demands of Qatar in order to lift their boycott, including the closure of the Doha-based Al-Jazeera news network and shuttering of a Turkish military base. They also demanded Doha curb its relations with Riyadh's arch-rival Iran and stop its alleged support for extremist groups.

Qatar rejected the demands, calling them "unrealistic" and "not actionable."

In late July 2017, Saudi Arabia and its allies doubled down, demanding that Qatar take action against some 18 alleged extremist individuals and entities. The list was later expanded to include some 90 names.

The bitter feud between Doha and its neighbours is now dragging into the fourth year with no end in sight.