Jenifer Fenton writes in about the mass arrests of Islamists in the UAE, whose spiraling campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood regionally and domestic dissidents (Islamists from Islah and others, including non-Islamists) at home continues apace. One question I have about these arrests is, how do they play out in the inter-family politics of the Emirates? Notable in all this is the public absence of the Nahyan family, often thought to be the most anti-Islamist, and of course the most powerful in the UAE. The ruler of Sharjah, who might be thought to be in a position where he has to make more public concessions to Islamists (and social conservatives more generally) within his own emirate, has taken the lead in justifying the crackdown — albeit in that typically paternalistic/tribalist manner of the Gulf.
At least 50 people are now detained in the United Arab Emirates. The arrests amount to one of the biggest crackdown on Islamists in years, after mounting nervousness by the authorities in the wake of the Arab uprisings.
Many, but not all, of those held are members of the Reform and Social Guidance Association (al-Islah), which calls for reform but also for “adhering to Islamic principles”.
Al-Islah was founded many years ago with the approval of the late ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. The stated purpose of the group was to be a religious and educational body. The government feels that it has moved away from these goals and has developed a political agenda.
On July 15, Salem Saeed Kubaish, the Abu Dhabi Attorney General, ordered the arrest of a group of people “for establishing and managing an organization with the aim of committing crimes that harm state security,” according to the state news agency WAM. The group is accused of “opposing the constitution and the basic principles of the UAE ruling system, in addition to having links and affiliations to organizations with foreign agendas.”
Amnesty International has voiced their concerns that the detained men “are thought to be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.”