UAE said to arrest four amid web law crackdown

Rights activists claim ex-diplomat Naji al-Nuaimi among those held since tightening of law

(Image for illustrative purposes)

(Image for illustrative purposes)

Authorities in the UAE have arrested at least four people in what human rights campaigners said might be part of a crackdown on online dissent and a tightening of the Gulf Arab state's internet law.

Interior Ministry officials were not available for comment.

The UAE, a major oil exporter, regional business hub and US ally, has not seen the unrest that has ousted autocratic Arab rulers elsewhere. But it has shown little tolerance of dissent, detaining more than 60 local Islamists this year.

Those detainees, who belong to an Islamist group called al-Islah, are accused of having links to the Muslim Brotherhood, banned in the UAE, and conspiring to overthrow the government.

Last month the UAE tightened the law on online dissent, imposing jail terms on anyone who derides or caricatures the country's rulers or state institutions on the Internet.

Rights activists said on Wednesday that four people, including former diplomat Naji al-Nuaimi, had been arrested in the weeks since the law was amended.

Some had sympathised with the Islamist detainees, had called for reforms or had criticised the security apparatus online, but did not belong to al-Islah themselves, the activists said.

Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have enlivened public debate in the UAE, which controls state media and restricts freedom of speech. Users range from ruling family members and ministers to government supporters and dissidents.

The UAE, along with Gulf neighbours Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, co-sponsored a proposal to widen government oversight of the Internet at a global telecommunications summit in Dubai this month.

The proposal, which was largely defeated following fierce opposition from a US-led bloc including the European Union, Canada, Japan and Australia, sought to include clauses in a revamped telecom treaty that would have given states the power to monitor and block online content.

In Bahrain, which has been in turmoil since pro-democracy protests led by its Shi'ite Muslim majority erupted last year, several activists have been arrested or jailed on charges including defaming the king or spreading false news on Twitter.

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

  • No comments yet, be the first!

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Virtue and Vice: The world according to Shane Smith

Virtue and Vice: The world according to Shane Smith

Vice Media co-founder and chief executive Shane Smith set a new...

The art of social media influencing

The art of social media influencing

As social media influencers increasingly demand attention in...

Digital dilemma: the future on advertising

Digital dilemma: the future on advertising

If you’re not advertising online these days, you’re not advertising...

Most Discussed