UAE detains 6 Islamists stripped of citizenship: lawyer

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 09, 2012 11:16 AM
UAE detains 6 Islamists stripped of citizenship: lawyer

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates on Monday detained six Islamist activists whose citizenship was revoked last year after they demanded political reform in the Gulf Arab state, their lawyer said.

The UAE, a top oil exporter, has weathered popular uprisings that have toppled four Arab heads of state since last year, thanks in part to its cradle-to-grave welfare system, but it has shown little tolerance towards dissent at home.

Jail terms have been imposed on activists who sought greater power for an elected body. In December, the UAE revoked the citizenship of six nationals it had described as posing a threat to national security.

A daughter of one of the six said her father, Muhammed Abdel Razzaq al-Siddiq, was detained by police on Monday after refusing to sign a declaration to seek a new nationality within two weeks or face imprisonment.

"My father called us... He refused to sign the declaration as now he is stateless, so he was detained along with the other five men," Alaa al-Siddiq told Reuters.

Mohammed al-Roken, a lawyer defending the six, confirmed the six had been detained for refusing to seek an alternative citizenship and said they have been transferred to prison. He also described stripping the six off their nationality as "unconstitutional."

A seventh Emirati, Ahmed al-Suwaidi, whose citizenship was also revoked last year, has been held for weeks, he said.

A UAE official said he was checking the report.

The case has set a precedent in the UAE, raising questions about rights and political reform in the oil producing Gulf Arab state.

Siddiq told Reuters last week he believed his citizenship was revoked because he had signed a petition sent to UAE leaders demanding the country's Federal National Council, an advisory body, be given more powers.

He also said he believed the men have been targeted for their Islamist political orientation. He and the other five men whose citizenship was revoked in December were members of Islamist organization al-Islah (Reform).

The UAE is concerned the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt after the ouster of President Hosni Mubara, once a close ally of the Gulf Arab state, could embolden its own Islamist community.

Egypt's Brotherhood group has been embroiled in a spat with the UAE over the expulsion of a group of Syrians who refused to disperse after a protest outside their consulate in Dubai. The Dubai police chief accused the Brotherhood of fomenting unrest.

(Reporting by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Karolina Tagaris)