Qatar sues French politician for terror claim

Qatar is suing a far-right French politician for defaming the country "and all its citizens" after he linked the Gulf emirate to "terrorism" following the deadly Charlie Hebdo attack.

Qatar sues French politician for terror claim
Florian Philippot, a close advisor of party leader Marine Le Pen, is being sued by Qatar for claiming it funds terrorism. Photo: AFP

In an apparently rare legal action of a state suing an individual, Qatar has filed papers against Florian Philippot, a vice-president of the National Front, in a French court for defamation.

The legal action was confirmed in a statement released by Doha.

“The State of Qatar has filed a defamation complaint against Mr Florian Philippot,” read the statement.

“In the hours following the Paris terrorist attacks of January 2015 Qatar condemned these acts in the strongest terms, affirming its support to France and its solidarity with the victims. Qatar continues to do so.

“However Mr Philippot has repeatedly and publicly implied a link between these terrorist acts and the State of Qatar, affecting the reputation of Qatar and all its citizens.

“The State of Qatar therefore has no choice but to defend its name in the French courts.”

Legal papers have been filed in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre, lawyers told AFP.

The papers were filed in early April but only now has the case become publicly known.

Qatar's statement confirming legal action was dated May 30.

In the days after the January 7 gun attack on the satirical Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo which left 12 people dead, Philippot criticised Qatar — and Saudi Arabia — in the French media, saying: “These countries finance Islamism which kills”.

In response to the suit, a defiant Philippot, 33, who was the National Front's strategic director for leader Marine Le Pen's 2011 presidential campaign, told French TV station BFMTV, that “this is a very serious matter” and “called on all democrats” to support him.

He also tweeted on Monday: “Qatar will not silence me. An Islamist dictatorship will not dictate to the French what they have the right to say.”

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Spanish great Xavi to play on until at least end of year

Legendary former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Xavi Hernandez has upset his own plans to retire and announced he will extend his career until at least the end of this year, he said on Sunday.

Spanish great Xavi to play on until at least end of year
Legendary former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Xavi Hernandez. Photo: Karim Haafar/AFP

Widely expected to end his illustrious playing career at the end of this season, the World Cup champion and four-times Champions League winner told AFP he feels fit enough to continue playing a little longer.

“I have decided to continue at least six months more,” said the 38-year-old, who now plays for Qatari club Al Sadd.

Asked why he was playing on, he replied: “Because it depends on my physical condition. Maybe in December I decide to continue.”

The decision is unexpected as Xavi had signalled that the current season would be his last before he focuses on earning his coaching badges. Xavi, who won 133 caps for Spain, had been expected to take the reins at Al
Sadd from next season and has been tipped to be the Qatar coach in 2022 when the Gulf state hosts the World Cup.

He made his debut for Barcelona back in 1998, and went on to make more than 500 appearances for the Catalan giants, winning eight La Liga titles.

Although the league season has ended in Qatar — Al Sadd finished runners-up — Xavi is still involved in two cup competitions.

On Monday, Al Sadd play in Doha against Saudi Arabian side Al Ahli in the first leg of the AFC Champions League last 16.

Later this week, Al Sadd will also play in the semi-final of Qatar's biggest domestic cup competition, the Emir Cup.