The new list announced by United Arab Emirates (UAE), and labeled dozens of organizations and groups as “terrorist”, has sparked storming reactions from various Muslim organizations and right activists worldwide, with some describing it as shocking and politically motivated.
“The fact that it piles together terrorist groups like Boko Haram and ISIL with think tanks and research centers who aren’t involved in political work and who espouse democratic principles belies any kind of rationality or logic,” Anas al-Tikriti, the former president of the Muslim Association of Britain, told the Middle East Eye Saturday, November 15.
“Some of these organizations represent tens of thousands of people.
“Does the UAE mean to suggest there are tens of thousands of terrorists throughout the world from America, to Europe, to Africa?”
Al-Tikriti was voicing anger of several Muslims who were shocked after the release of the Emirati terror list that included the names of 83 organizations.
The UAE Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Islah (or Da’wat Al-Islah), and Fatah al-Islam (Lebanon) were at the top of the UAE terror list.
Other groups like Al-Qaeda, al-Nusra Front, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Nusra Front) in Syria have also been branded as terrorist groups.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Afghanistan’s Taliban are also in the blacklist.
International bodies representing world Muslims such as the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) and Islamic Relief have been also banned.
A similar move to label the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) a “terrorist” group was taken by Egypt in December 2013 and Saudi last March.
Established in 1928 in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is the most powerful opposition force in the country.
For years, the MB has faced many instances of banning, with its leaders also repressed by governments, that has been the case since the 1950s.
The much criticized list stirred up speculation to be driven by regional purposes.
“Many of the listed names are there purely for political reasons,” said Ahmed Mansoor, an Emirati human rights activist.
“The authorities here are abusing the hype of fighting terrorism to label peaceful, political groups and human rights organizations as terrorist organizations.”
“A list like this only makes real terrorists like ISIS look more powerful,” Mansoor said.
Adding civic organizations and terrorist groups in the same list was slammed by analysts and political experts who described the list as “very odd”.
The UAE blacklist included the names of several American and European Muslims organization like the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe, the Islamic Relief, a UK-registered charity that is working with the British government and Muslim Association of Britain.
“You have people from across the spectrum, some completely devoted to violence and some who don’t seem to be involved in violence at all,” Jin Walsh, a Research Associate at MIT’s Security Studies Program in Boston, told Al Jazeera.
Other experts described the list as the most “comprehensive” by the UAE, deeming it a pre-emptive step.
“I think the UAE has gone to a policy of what I would call pre-emptive defense, meaning going to the source before they reach here,” Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, a professor of political science at Emirates University, told the National.
Two US-based groups, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society, were also included in the list, sending a shockwave among thousands of their members.
“The Muslim American Society was shocked to read news reports claiming that the United Arab Emirates has listed the Muslim American Society, along with numerous other organizations, as a terrorist organization,” the organization said in a statement cited by the Daily Caller.
“We have no dealings with the United Arab Emirates, and hence are perplexed by this news.”
CAIR, the US largest Muslim civil rights organization, has 34 offices across the United States and boasts a diverse staff, including scores of high-ranking female staffers and leaders, converts and born Muslims, and people of other faiths.
The Gulf Arab state list also includes the Islamic Society in Denmark (Det Islamiske Trossamfund, DIT) and Islamic Society of Germany (Islamische Gemeinschaft Deutschland).
Commenting on labeling his group “terrorist” by Emirates, Omar Mustafa, chairman of the Muslim Association of Sweden, called it “frightening that a small regime known for human rights abuses defines European civil society organizations as terror groups”. ONISLAM