Some Qatari intellectuals and candidates have criticised the electoral law which they say denies full political rights to citizens, days ahead of the Central Municipal Council's elections.
The exclusion of seven candidates, all naturalised Qataris, from the electoral contest stirred a heated debate over the electoral law, which a growing part of the community deems as unconstitutional.
"The electoral law conceived for the election of the Central Municipal Council (CMC) discriminates against part of our society and is creating discontent," Abdullah, a candidate who asked for his family name not to be mentioned, told Gulf News.
"The problem is that the citizenship law discriminates between pure and naturalised Qataris and the electoral law reflects that principle. This is totally against the new constitution of 2003, which grants full political rights to all Qatari citizens," he added.
Professor Hasan Al Sayed, acting director of the Law Faculty at Qatar University explained the legislation differs between pure Qataris, who were born in Qatar by Qatari parents living in the country before 1930, and naturalised Qataris, who emigrated to Qatar and obtained nationality here.
The electoral law states that "pure Qataris" can take part in the municipal elections as candidates and voters, while "naturalised Qataris" can vote only if they have been citizens for over 10 years and can run as a candidate only if their father was born in Qatar.
"As a result, seven candidates were excluded from the electoral fray because they did not meet this requirement. From a legal point of view the electoral law is against the constitution, which states that every Qatari citizen has a right to exercise full political rights," Professor Al Sayed told Gulf News.
"We [the legal experts] ask that the electoral law is amended to abide by the Constitution. With parliamentary elections looming naturalized Qataris risk being excluded from that contest," he said.
Qataris will vote for the CMC's third term on April 1 but the election is considered a test for Qatari democracy as the country awaits its parliamentary elections.
However, Dr Yahia Al Jamal, former minister of Egypt, who was involved in drafting Qatar's constitution, warned a small country such as Qatar should not extend its citizenship and consequently the right to vote too easily.
"There is a risk of jeopardizing the identity of the country and its society," he said.
Qatarsucks.com comments: Qataris, both pure and naturalised, can at least come together to agree that non-Qataris ESPECIALLY Asians are for exploitation.