For almost two years, the UAE’s political Islamists have been referred to in the West as human rights activists. No doubt, they are indeed activists with an agenda but there is also no doubt that they are not our version of Nelson Mandela, nor is their vision for the country that of the Magna Carta. I have been following their rhetoric — in Arabic — over the past few months on social media with great concern. I have found it to be xenophobic; anti-Semitic; sectarian; exclusionary; racist toward Asians, Africans and other Arabs and overall repugnant. Read more »
Since the start of the Arab uprisings the UAE has witnessed a widespread campaign of arrest mostly involving political Islamists. Five activists were detained early last year, sentenced then pardoned by the country’s president. Then in December six naturalized individuals had their citizenships revoked for “threatening national security.” But why aren’t UAE nationals marching in the street demanding urgent political reform? Here are several reasons.
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The post-Arab Spring political scene has exposed the frailty of the ‘marriage of convenience’ between free-thinkers and conservatives. Liberals, the pioneers of the revolutions, have seen their influence dwindle due to their lack of organisation, with parties like the Muslim Brotherhood filling the vacuum. But swayed by electoral success, Islamists are alienating the people by going after plum political posts and seeking to impose curbs on personal freedom. Read more »