“This anti-democratic action on the part of the UAE officials is a clear indication that UAE is never inclined to accept or permit any pro-democratic movements in the country. They will deal with any such actions with their predominant iron fist of ‘their own law’, which they maintain so far as impenetrable to the outside world”
“The United Arab Emirates has revoked the citizenship of six nationals whom it said posed a threat to national security, but the men said they were being punished for demanding political reform in the oil-rich monarchy.
The UAE officials called back all the documents of these five men, “in accordance with a decree issued by President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan”, the official WAM news agency reported. “They had perpetrated over the past years acts threatening the national security of the UAE through their connection with suspicious regional and international organizations and personalities”
According to a report, the men whose citizenship is being revoked carry the names of well-known tribes in the UAE, which was established in 1971 as a union of former British dependencies in the Gulf.
The government’s move to strip the six of their citizenship has created a rift within the wide network of clans in the UAE, with supporters of the men trading insults with those who denounce them in social media.
“We’re afraid of a split in the tribal community… A fire, when it starts, grows then burns everything around it. Right now, there’s just smoke, but if it’s not stopped, it can be very dangerous,” said Ismail al-Housni, who belongs to the same tribe as one of the men stripped of citizenship. “I hope that people of wisdom will stop this and solve the issue officially.”
An Islamist group, Al-Islah, had posted a statement on Wednesday saying the authorities had confiscated the citizenship documents of seven of its members. One of the seven named by Islah – Ahmed al-Suwaidi – was not included in the six named in the official statement.
The UAE appears to be trying to douse any ambitions that the well-organised Islah movement may have of exploiting the rising tide of political Islam across the region.<p>Islah called on the country’s rulers to reverse the “illegal” move against its members, Some of the men had signed a petition sent to the leaders of the UAE demanding that the country’s Federal National Council, an advisory body, be endowed with greater powers.
The Islamist group, which claims to have as many as 20,000 supporters, has drawn increasing attention from the government this year. The rise of political Islam after the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt has raised alarm bells in the UAE, with some fearing that Muslim Brotherhood sympathisers could use religion to challenge the rulers’ tribal legitimacy over the Gulf’s business hub.
The Islah incident risks blowing up into another human rights issue for this strong western ally, which, underpinned by Abu Dhabi’s vast oil wealth, has escaped the wave of street protests sweeping the Arab world.
Some of the “Islah seven” are Arabs of Iranian origin, a significant minority within the national community whose trading forefathers moved to the UAE a century ago.
Earlier this year five political activists, including a prominent blogger and an economics professor, were convicted and jailed for insulting the UAE leadership, after they criticised UAE policies and called for reforms. They were pardoned by the federation’s president a day after their sentences of two to three years in jail were handed down. The UAE penal code allows the government to jail people solely for peacefully expressing critical views, in contravention of international human rights guarantees for free speech.
International institutions can contribute their might to a noble cause of supporting those hapless people in the UAE, who at the mercy of the world around them. A report from Human Rights Watch concludes “Silence on the part of public institutions who partner with the UAE government will be taken as condoning the attacks on reformist advocates” “If the institutions want the world to believe they are in the UAE for more than profit, they should speak out in defense of the values they espouse.”
View news report: UAE strips six of citizenship citing security threat”