DUBAI, July 30 (Reuters) - An Islamist group that has been
the target of a crackdown on opposition by authorities in the
United Arab Emirates called on Monday for the release of jailed
activists and affirmed its devotion to the country's rulers.
At least 20 activists have been detained since July 15, when
the Gulf Arab state said it was investigating a foreign-linked
group plotting "crimes against state security". Many of those
were affiliated with the local Islamist group al-Islah (Reform).
"(Islah) has sought to support (the UAE) since its
foundation... then we see that they incorrectly accuse Islah
figures of harming state security!?", the group said in a
statement on its website.
"We demand the release of the prisoners and a stop to the
proceedings and all the security practices and pressures on the
sons of the nation".
Interior Ministry officials have not commented on the
The UAE, a 40-year-old federation of seven emirates and a
major oil exporter, allows no organised political opposition. It
has been spared the political tumult that has toppled four Arab
heads of state since last year, thanks in part to its
cradle-to-grave welfare system.
But it has also moved swiftly against signs of opposition,
stripping several Islamists it accused of posing a threat to
national security of their citizenship and issuing jail
sentences to activists who called for more power for the
country's semi-elected advisory council.
Islah affirmed its "loyalty, love and gratitude" to the UAE
leadership and denied having ties with foreign groups, adding
that the arrests, which it said totalled 41, damaged the UAE's
reputation at home and abroad.
Analysts say UAE authorities, like other Gulf monarchies,
are irked by the rise of Islamists in Egypt and other states in
the wake of the Arab Spring, anxious that their gains elsewhere
could embolden Islamists on their own turf.
Islamists in the UAE blame the country's security apparatus
rather than the rulers themselves for the crackdown.
(Reporting by Isabel Coles, editing by Tim Pearce)