ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Seven Islamists detained in the United Arab Emirates and accused of being members of the Muslim Brotherhood and threatening the security of the state lost an appeal on Monday against the revocation of their citizenship.
The UAE, a major oil exporter and business hub, has weathered the popular uprisings that toppled four Arab leaders last year, thanks in part to its cradle-to-grave welfare system, but it has shown little tolerance towards dissent.
The seven are among more than 60 members of the Islamist grouping al-Islah detained this year and accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in the UAE.
All the detainees have been charged with founding an organization that violates state security, having links to foreign organizations and insulting the political leadership.
Al-Islah says it advocates peaceful reform and has no connections with the global Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in Egypt and has now risen to power there.
Some of the seven had demanded greater powers for the Federal National Council, a partly elected body that advises the government on policy and lawmaking. Each of the UAE's seven emirates has its own ruling family and no political parties are allowed.
The Federal Appeals Court in Abu Dhabi on Monday upheld a lower court ruling that the withdrawal of citizenship had been an executive action and not subject to administrative court jurisdiction, the state news agency reported.
The lawyer representing the group told Reuters they had not yet decided whether to pursue the case further.
"We will go through today's judgment and then decide whether or not we will go to the Supreme Court to challenge the verdict," Abdulhamid al-Kumeiti said.
A win at the higher court would allow the men to appeal once more.
The lawyer who first filed the appeal, Mohammed al-Roken, is one of the Islamists now in detention.
Kumeiti said he had not gained access to the seven men, nor had their families been able to see them.
Relatives said the men had been arrested after refusing to acknowledge their loss of citizenship by applying for residency visas in the UAE or seeking new nationalities.
In rare political comments, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, a powerful member of Dubai's ruling family, denied on Monday that the Arab Spring was having any impact on the UAE.
"The UAE is safe from political instability in the region. We are immune," Sheikh Ahmed told Reuters.
"We're not concerned at all. Why should we be?"
(Reporting By Raissa Kasolowsky in Abu Dhabi and Mirna Sleiman in Dubai; Editing by Kevin Liffey)