Mohammad Pervez Bilgrami
A list containing the names of 85 “terrorist” organizations was issued recently in the name of United Arab Emirates President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The UAE “terror” list included major violent-militant groups such as Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and ISIL as well as political and civil liberty movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In the UAE’s weird wisdom, humanitarian organizations like Islamic Relief Worldwide and one of the highly-respected bodies of the Islamic world, the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) headed by prominent scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al Qardawi, are also “terrorists.”
One is really forced to question the intellectual level of decisions makers in the UAE, where foreigners constitute more 90 percent of the population. Has the uncontrolled consumerism practiced by the UAE powers that be destroyed their capacity to think rationally?
The terror list also had the names of many European and American Muslim organizations known for their social and charitable work and interfaith dialogue programs such as the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) and The Cordoba Foundation (TCF).
It is important to understand the tribal mindset in the UAE, their notions of honor, their medieval control-freak nature and their obsessions. Disconnected from the people, the powers that be also suffer from abnormal fears, which drive them to act in the manner they have done in preparing the “terror” list.
The UAE leadership looks bent on antagonizing everyone and wants to pull more and more people in their petty fights with individuals, groups and nations. It is important for other governments to frankly tell the UAE officials to buzz off when they get too ridiculous. The “terror” list is certain to be used by the authorities to gather more information on people they do not like and this could put at risk the lives of people involved in normal political, social and humanitarian work.
The list seems prepared with the motive to target ordinary Muslim professional, using various illegal clandestine networks funded by the Country’s unaccountable oil billions. The UAE will claim that the people related to the organizations are terrorists. As the Gulf country lacks political institutions and an independent judicial system, you cannot expect justice there.
The amateurish Gulf rulers, who seem to have some natural animosity towards knowledge and learning (the tendencies that existed in the region more than 1,400 years ago), are openly threatening scholars, professionals and social activists by calling them terrorists.
This must not be accepted at any level and the UAE leaders should be told clearly to change their anachronistic thinking. If there are people silly enough to listen to these unreasonable demand, they should also be exposed. In fact, the UAE, its officials and entities must be boycotted and taken to court for their whimsical acts that harm others.
In a very amusing case, the name of Finnish Islamic Congregation of Tatar Muslims - The Finnish Islamic Association (Suomen Islam-Seurakunta) was established in 1925 and believed to be the first Muslim association officially recognized by a European state - is on the list. The UAE authorities did not spare the organisation established five decades before the inception of the Emirati federation. The UAE’s founding president Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan would have been aghast at what his sons are doing to the country.
Then the list has the name of Union of Islamic Organisations of France (L'Union des Organisations Islamiques de France, UOIF), the French chapter of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe, one of the most prominent Muslim organizations in France that manages around 250 mosques and other institutions.
The question here emerges as to why the UAE authorities included the names of some of the most respected Muslim charities and organizations in the list of groups suspected of having “terrorist” links. The list shows the post-Arab Spring mindset of the antediluvian despots. Like other Arab monarchies, the UAE is fearful of Arab freedom waves reaching its shores and the sand castles. But in the UAE’s case, it won’t be an Arab Spring in real sense as its population is heavily non-Arab and citizens have either been marginalized through repressive measures or bribed into silence.
The frightened Gulf monarchies with their myopic visions are digging their own graves by issuing bizarre decrees. This terror listing is a product of delirious minds that are unable to comprehend the real meaning of “terrorism”. At this point, the despotic UAE and other Arab monarchies led by Saudi Arabia are not interested in listening and talking. Their approach to every issue is: my way or the highway. It’s time to call their bluff.
Either those who prepared the list are hopelessly naive or the list was prepared somewhere else - for example, the Zionist workforce of the notorious US Deep State - and then sent to obtain the signature of His Highness. Either way, the intents of panicky Gulf despots are clear.
The UAE list followed the Saudi Arabian list of “terrorist” organizations published in July this year. Apart from inconsistencies and an unprofessional approach in preparing the list, the list reflects a kind of mule behavior of the effete regimes, which get offended by any mention of democracy, dignity, equality and free will.
What the Arab despots want is a worldwide licence to harass, torture, jail or murder their opponents. It’s time for others to respond to them by demanding that they learn the rules of civilized behavior. Saudi Arabia should give up its ambition of trying to convert every Muslim to its tribalistic, extremist and disorderly religious practices. Riyadh often uses Hajj visas as a tool to put pressure on fellow Muslim countries, now the UAE is getting in the habit of using its business infrastructure for similar objectives. Developing more business hubs around the UAE and exposing Saudi deceptive tactics will bring some sense to these two. Sadly, the UAE-Saudi political opportunism is an age-old problem.
It is extremely worrying that the US and other Western powers openly back authoritarian wastrels for the sake of their narrow regional interests. Modern-day imperial powers have created a two-tiered paradoxical system: a small number of victims of Western-backed despots get refuge and working freedom in the US and EU even as the false champions of freedom and democracy sturdily aid and abet repressive regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Members of political and social movements like the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and Ennahda of Tunisia have long been working in Western countries. Now Britain is conducting an inquiry against Muslim Brotherhood under pressure from the Saudi monarchy (big buyer of British weapons), and other self-styled freedom talkers of Europe are being encouraged to harass Muslims for questioning the legitimacy of Arab despots.
Let’s see what kind of future chaos would follow in the region as a result of this madness.
Writer on twitter* @mpervezbilgrami