The 82 Muslim groups and organisations lumped together by the UAE as so-called terrorists is so wide ranging, from terrorist groups like ISIL, Boko Haram and al-Qa’ida to internationally renowned and respected charity, Islamic Relief. The list just doesn’t make any sense and has no clear rationality.
There are also militant brigades fighting in Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Mali and Pakistan. There is Taliban. When the Taliban took over Afghanistan, the UAE, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, were the only three countries to recognise its brutal rise there.
Then there is the Muslim Brotherhood, number one on its list in the UAE, where it goes under the name of Al-Islah. The Persian Gulf state was among the first to support the military coup in Cairo that ousted the country’s elected Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi. More surprising is the inclusion of ISIL as UAE has been accused with other Arab states of being complicit in funding its surge in Iraq and Syria.
The strangest inclusions in the proscribed list were Islamic institutions in Western countries that include charitable and even humanitarian organisations. As reported in our front-page story, it would appear that the UAE may not have even consulted its allies before designating essentially peaceful civil and law-abiding groups that are not outlawed in their own country.
The UAE’s list of the proscribed list reflects similar tactics used by Israel to denigrate anyone who either dares to criticise its atrocities against Palestinians but also those who are involved in charitable work in the occupied territories. It is perhaps no coincidence that British Muslim charity, Islamic Relief, which is targeted by the UAE, has also been banned by Israel.
Islamic Relief, the international humanitarian aid and development agency, dedicated to the alleviation of poverty and suffering in over 30 countries, suggested its inclusion on the UAE list “can only be attributable to a mistake.” It was banned by Israel in June after being accused of funding Hamas, which Islamic Relief has vehemently denied. Israel has as yet not provided any evidence to its accusation.
The Cordoba Foundation’s inclusion on the UAE ‘terrorist’ list is not a coincidence “given that all of these groups have criticised the UAE for their lack of observation of human rights, and the violent oppression of their own citizens.”
Despite copying Israeli tactics, it has been suggested that the main reason behind the extent of the UAE list is closer to opposition at home. The very first name included is the transnational Muslim Brotherhood, and there are a significant number of inclusions that appear to have ties with the organisation. The Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) has often been smeared as having the links, as has the Muslim American Society.
The idiom of who is a terrorist has come a long way since it was first used by Gerald Seymour in his 1975 book Harry’s Game about the conflict in Northern Ireland.