THE GULF STATE of Qatar is small but exceptionally rich and uses its money relentlessly to acquire friends and influence. The recipients of its largesse have been many and various, from Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation in the United States to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. But while there have often been complaints about Qatar’s support for militant Muslims its dubious links with non-Muslim religious groups have largely gone unnoticed.
Over the last decade Qatar has been working quietly with socially-conservative elements in the west to promote “traditional” ideas of family life. In doing so it has readily joined forces with Mormons and the more reactionary parts of the Roman Catholic church. It has also helped fund a right-wing think tank set up by a former leader of Britain’s Conservative Party.
In turn, these western groups seem content to accept support from a country where polygamy is legal, where gay sex — and, indeed, any kind of sex outside marriage — is a crime, where loveless arranged marriages are not uncommon, where a husband can divorce a wife simply by saying so three times but a wife who wishes to divorce her husband must go to court.
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