A global group of Ulama led by an influential Qatar-based Aalim have expressed “astonishment” at being designated a terrorist body by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In a statement the International Union of Muslim Scholars urged the UAE to remove it from a list of 85 groups the country’s cabinet named on Saturday as terrorist organisations in a drive against what the country termed “terrorist crimes”.
The inclusion of the group was “not based on any analysis or investigation, whether legal, logical or rational”, said the statement, co-signed by the union’s chairman, Egyptian-born Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
“The Union expresses its complete and extreme astonishment of its inclusion by the UAE among the terrorists groups and rejects this description completely,” said the group, which says it seeks to promote scholarship and awareness of Islam.
Other groups designated in the list included Nusra Front and the ISIL, whose fighters are battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, several Shi’ite Muslim militant groups such as the Houthi movement in Yemen, and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, with which Qaradawi is closely associated.
The list also includes a number of humanitarian, relief and Muslim community associations in the Arab world and the West.
The union said the UAE list ignored groups engaged in what it called “non-Islamic terrorism” against Muslims, saying this raised questions about the motives behind the designations.
The UAE action mirrors a move by Saudi Arabia in March that was seen as part of a campaign by the kingdom, the UAE and Bahrain to pressure Qatar to reduce its longstanding support for “Islamist” forces around the Middle East.
The U.S.-allied monarchies mistrust the Muslim Brotherhood because its doctrines challenge the principle of dynastic rule.
But quoted by the Middle East Eye, UK based commentator Anas Al-Tikriti voiced an anger that was echoed by several Muslims who were shocked by the release of the list.
“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 said.
“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?”
“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.
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 .
“We have no dealings with the United Arab Emirates, and hence are perplexed by this news.”
“We are seeking clarification from the government of the United Arab Emirates about this shocking and bizarre report. There is absolutely no factual basis for the inclusion CAIR and other American and European civil rights and advocacy groups on this list,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) added.
“Like the rest of the mainstream institutions representing the American Muslim community, CAIR’s advocacy model is the antithesis of the narrative of violent extremists.”
Established in 1994, CAIR is a non-profit grassroots organization headquartered in Washington DC, with 35 offices and chapters across the US and Canada.
It strives to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.