Qatar denies France investments have political motivation

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French President Francois Hollande (R) escorts Prime Minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al Thani, after their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, on 7 June 2012. Photo – Ian Langsdon/EPA

Qatari Prime Minister Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani said on Monday that multi-billion investments in France is motivated by business interests and not by any political ambitions. The Gulf state’s investments sparked fears it is motivated to promote Islamism.

Doha clarified that investments are conducted after consulting the French government and denied any political motivation.

“Qatar is not a country with great political ambitions … and it wants no political role from its investments in France,” Sheikh Hamad said at a press conference in Doha. “We don’t do anything without coordinating with the French side,” he added.

Qatari investors recently bought Paris Saint-Germain football club and acquired 3% of energy giant Total along with getting stakes in building firm Vinci and media group Lagardere.

Qatar also intends to pump funds into the under-privileged suburbs of French cities, where a large number of France’s Muslim population lives. However, critics have condemned the plans and dubbed them as designs to promote Islamism.

“There’s something going on. Nothing is free, that’s for certain,” French Middle East expert Karim Sader previously told FRANCE 24 news channel. “We’re tempted to link the funding for the suburbs to Qatar’s Islamist leanings.”

Marine le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front Party, has attacked the investments as a “major political mistake” and criticised the government for accepting it.

“Arnaud Montebourg has shown that our country is indeed up for sale to oil monarchies who support radical Islam and jihadism across the world,” Le Pen wrote in a statement titled, “The Trojan Horse of Islamism”.
The controversy expanded when French President François Hollande’s government was forced to step in and announce that the scheme would not, as was first intended, be funded entirely by Qatar, but would be a joint initiative between the two countries.
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