When the United Arab Emirates released a blacklist of “terrorist groups” this month, many prominent Western charities were shocked to find themselves cited alongside Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
UAE casts global net with anti-Islamist ‘terror list’
Copts and Poliltical Islam
Wednesday ,26 November 2014
There was little surprise to see the Muslim Brotherhood topping the list, given the Gulf state’s relentless efforts against the regional Islamist group.
But the inclusion of organizations such as the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Relief UK and some of the largest Muslim associations in Finland, Norway, Sweden and other European countries prompted outrage and calls from several Western governments for an explanation.
By casting its net so far and so wide, experts say, the UAE is pushing its view that the fight against militant Islamism is as much an ideological war as a conventional one.
The real target of the list, said Frederic Wehrey, a Gulf expert at the U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is “politically active Islamism.”
“(The UAE) is trying to include non-violent, Brotherhood-affiliated groups in the same ideological constellation as real terrorist groups like (Nigeria’s) Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda,” he said.
The wealthy Gulf state, which boasts an open society that brings together millions of foreigners of 200 nationalities, at first seems an odd choice to lead the charge against political Islam.