Are Political Islamists in the UAE Human Rights Defenders?

October 26, 2012

An Arab blogger, Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, posted on 25 October a relevant article in AL-Monitor. It poses the always tricky question of the ‘definition’ of a Human Rights Defender, but even more the valid question of human rights policy. Why would the international community put priority or energy into defending those whose human rights credentials are below par? Not speaking Arabic myself, I cannot refute the many examples given by the author. Anybody who can is welcome to enlighten us. In the meantime it is not more than fair to put on record the detailed accusations in the long article, including writings and tweets by Hassan Al Diqqi. Why the author does not give similar examples from other islamists is a good question.  Also there is the weakness that the article does not give examples of those activists in the UAE that the author would consider real human Rights defenders, which makes the article look like a apology for the UAE’s govenrment. I just have to mention the cases of  Ahmed Mansoor, blogger and member of  ANHRI’s (Arab Network for Human Rights Information); Nasser bin Ghaith, an economist, university lecturer and advocate of political reform; and three online activists Fahad Salim Dalk, Ahmed Abdul Khaleq and Hassan Ali al-Khamis, which featured in my blog on 18 July. 

The article itself has some strong language:

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.


Nothing exposes the ignorance of non-Arabic-speaking writers than when they comment on the current events in the UAE without taking the time to read what is written. Referring to the political Islamists as “human rights defenders” is an insult to human rights activists all over the world and the equivalent of calling Greece’s Golden Dawn, Holland’s Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders or Hungary’s Jobbik Party as human rights platforms. If outsiders want to champion the UAE’s political Islamists, they should at the very least refer to them as they truly are: right-wing, exclusionary political movements. Vote for Geert Wilders if you like, just don’t call him a human rights defender.

see full piece: UAE Political Islamists Are Not Human Rights Defenders – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East.


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