At least 10 Islamists have been arrested in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the last few days, said Reuters on Sunday.
The UAE has been carrying out a targeted crackdown on Islamists from the Islamist non-violent political group, the Reform and Social Guidance Association (RSGA), or Al-Islah which is Arabic for reform.
The crackdown, which started in March, has culminated in the arrest of 41 activists, according to a statement released by Al-Islah on Sunday.
The statement read “the wide-scale arrests targeting members of Al-Islah have a bad impact on the reputation of the country in the Gulf and on the International scale, more importantly, on the individual in Emirati society.”
One of the founders of the group Hamad Roqait, was also arrested last week, Reuters reported.
Earlier this month, a group of activists were arrested, some of whom were affiliated with Al-Islah. There are number of differing accounts of how many activists have been arrested and detained as the UAE expanded its arrest program of political dissidents. According to Human Rights Watch 13 were arrested, while Amnesty International reported at least 11 political activists detained. Amnesty International said all of the detainees were taken to an unknown location. Amnesty International called on people to send appeals to UAE authorities to release them.
Both New York-based Human Rights Watch and Dublin-based Amnesty International called on Emirati authorities to release many of the detainees, who Amnesty International described as prisoners of conscience.
“The UAE authorities must halt this intensified crackdown on human rights defenders and other activists across the Emirates,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.
Al-Islah condemned the arrests and demanded the release of the arrested and an immediate “halt of these procedures and all security harassments toward the sons of the country.” The group said it believes in unity, good and reform, adding that it does not want to stir trouble or topple the Emirati regime or dismantle the constitution.
Earlier this month, the Emirati Emirates News Agency said the public prosecutor was investigating a group founded to commit crimes which threatened the security of the state. The prosecutor did not name the group. The prosecutor said the group was intent on going against the constitution and the basic principles.
It does not appear the UAE is only targeting Islamists. Earlier this month, Ahmed Abdelkhaleq was deported from the country to Thailand. Abdelkhaleq is a member of the “stateless,” known as the Bedoon, who do not have Emirati citizenship. According to The Economist, he ran a website reporting on the Bedoon community.
The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said Abdelkhaleq had been granted Comoros citizenship against his own will before he was forced to leave, earlier this month. ANHRI also described the UAE’s crackdown as a campaign against human rights activists and those calling for reform.
Abdelkhaleq was one of five Emirati activists known as UAE 5 arrested last year for insulting Emirati officials. After they were tried and convicted, they received a pardon and were all released.