Browsing 'muslim brotherhood' News

A photo of Dr. Al Jaidah held up one by one of his sons.

Free Dr. Al-Jaidah/Facebook

A photo of Dr. Al Jaidah held up one by one of his sons.

With reporting from Heba Fahmy

After nearly three years in jail in the UAE, a Qatari doctor who was convicted of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood has been released under a presidential pardon.

Dr. Mahmood Abdulrehman Al Jaidah, director of medical services at Qatar Petroleum, appears to be one of two nationals pardoned by Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed al-Nahyan over the weekend in the name of preserving diplomatic ties.

Dr. Al Jaidah following his release.

Hassan Al Jaidah/Twitter

Dr. Al Jaidah following his release.

Al Jaidah was first arrested in February 2013, while transiting through Dubai International Airport.

According to supporters, he was held for several months in a secret detention center and tortured by interrogators.

He was eventually formally charged and sentenced to seven years in prison last March for supporting the Brotherhood, which is a banned organization in the UAE.

Al Jaidah had denied the allegations against him, which included accepting an envelope with Dh100,000 (about QR100,000) from an Emirati to be handed over to another UAE citizen in Qatar.

In a series of tweets, one of his sons confirmed the doctor’s release:

Translation: God is the greatest, God is the greatest, God is the greatest. We thank (you only God). The news about releasing my father is correct. God is the greatest and thank God.

Translation: He was detained unjustly for two and a half years and here he is now; my father free amongst his people and loved ones. The prayer of the oppressed has risen to the sky and (God) responded to it. May God free the rest of them.

He also expressed solidarity with any other Qataris jailed in the UAE and urged their release.

Other cases

Last week, five Qatari nationals were handed prison terms and ordered to pay large fines after a court in the UAE convicted them for posting insulting images of that country’s royal family on Twitter and Instagram.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Penn State/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

However, only one of the defendants was actually in custody, and the other four were sentenced in absentia.

In addition to pardoning Al Jaidah, Sheikh Khalifa is believed to have also pardoned that man, Hamad Al Hammadi, who had been ordered to spend 10 years in jail and pay a Dh1 million (~QR991,000) fine.

According to state news agency WAM, the move was to “strengthen the close fraternal relations between the leaderships and peoples of the two brotherly countries.”

Thoughts?

AJ three Bel Trew

Bel Trew/Twitter

Three Al Jazeera journalists were found guilty of spreading false news and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in a Cairo court this morning.

Australian journalist Peter Greste of Al Jazeera English, and his colleagues – local producer Baher Mohamed and Egyptian bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy – were jailed for seven years each by Judge Mohamed Nagy.

Baher Mohamed was also sentenced to an additional three years in jail for possessing ammunition – apparently a bullet.

A further 10 defendants who were being tried in absentia were each given sentences of 10 years in jail.

On hearing the verdict, Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed stood in silence, with arms round each others’ shoulders in solidarity, according to BBC correspondent Christian Fraser.

He added on Twitter that Greste hit the caged dock after the verdicts were read out.

Charges

The three men have been in Tora prison since they were arrested in their Cairo hotel room on Dec. 29.

They were charged with defaming Egypt and endangering national security, doctoring footage and for affiliating with the Muslim Brotherhood, which has now been branded a terrorist group.

Throughout their 177 days in prison, the trio vehemently denied all allegations against them.

This was their 13th hearing in the Cairo courtroom. Throughout their trial, which has been ongoing since Feb. 20 and has been beset by delays, the three have spent most of their time locked in a metal cage.

They entered the packed courtroom at around 10am today and gave “brave smiles and waves” from their caged dock before the verdict.

Journalists reported some defendants shouting “hurriyah” (freedom) as they waited for the judge.

Judge Mohamed Nagy entered the courtroom 90 minutes later, just after 11.30am Doha time, and delivered the verdicts.

The three key AJE journalists were tried, along with five students and the leader of a Muslim charity, in an attempt to show that they played a part in a Muslim Brotherhood-connected plot to tarnish Egypt’s reputation. A further 11 defendants were tried in absentia, including six more Al Jazeera staff.

The prosecution’s case against the journalists centered on videos which had been seized in a bid to demonstrate a plot. They included film about horse welfare for Sky News Arabia, a BBC documentary about Somalia and uncut footage of a press conference in Kenya.

International support

There was enormous international support for the journalists throughout their trial, as the proceedings were seen by many as a symbol of tightening media restrictions in Egypt. Ambassadors from UK, Latvia, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands were in court for the verdict this morning, along with representatives from the world’s media.

Political leaders including US Secretary of State John Kerry and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott reportedly spoke about the case with Egypt’s new President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on the eve of the verdict.

On Saturday, the New York Times featured a completely empty back page, with the strapline at the bottom: “This is what happens when you silence journalists. Show your support. Journalism is not a crime. #FreeAJStaff”.

Journalists and human rights campaigners around the world organized demonstrations and press conferences to raise awareness of the men’s case, and many public figures posted photographs of themselves on Twitter with their mouths’ taped and carrying a card with the hashtag #FreeAJStaff.

AA image

Amnesty International

Amnesty International denounced the men’s detention, describing it as a “vindictive persecution of journalists for merely doing their jobs.”

One of Greste’s brothers, Mike, has been in Egypt for many of the hearings and his other brother Andrew flew in to be in court for the verdict.

After visiting Peter Greste in prison last night, Mike Greste told Australian broadcaster ABC News his brother was ” obviously very nervous and anxious, but at the same time (he’s) very composed and level headed about it all.”

Previous hopes

Hopes for the men’s freedom had been raised when their Al Jazeera Arabic colleague Abdullah Elshamy was freed from Cairo’s Scorpion prison on Tuesday of last week, 307 days after being arrested without charge.

He had spent nearly six months on hunger strike.

On his release, he had called for the freedom of his AJE colleagues, and was outside the court for the verdict.

More recently, many observers had hoped that Kerry’s announcement on Sunday of US$575mn of US military aid for Egypt meant that government officials had pledged to free the journalists.

Throughout the trial, the Qatar-based TV channel maintained the innocence of their journalists.

In advance of the verdict, Al Jazeera English’s Managing Director Al Anstey said the journalists were being held “simply for doing their job and carrying out the highest quality journalism.”

Thoughts?

Dahi Khalfan

Dubai Police/Facebook

New remarks from one of Dubai’s top security officials, who has called for the annexation of Qatar into the UAE, are generating an outpouring of online response from Doha’s local community.

In a series of tweets posted this week to his more than 600,000 followers, Lt. General Dhahi Khalfan, the deputy chairman of Police and General Security in Dubai, said:

Translation: “We demand that Qatar be returned to its original ruling under Abu Dhabi, return the branch to its original one.”

“Qatar is an integral part of the UAE. We must put up signs on our borders with Qatar stating: ‘You are now entering the UAE’s eighth emirate.'”

“Qatar should not be ‘a safe haven’ to the so-called ‘Muslim’ Brotherhood.”

Khalfan, formerly Dubai’s police chief, is a longtime critic of the Islamist group, which Qatar has supported. However, many in the GCC see the Muslim Brotherhood as a threat to their political stability.

Qatar’s position on the group has been cited by analysts and local officials as the main reason the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Doha last month.

Khalfan’s tweets also mention his disapproval of Azmi Bishara, a former member of Israel’s Knesset and the general director of Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Qatar, in addition to prominent Doha-based Islamic scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi.

Online reaction

Qatar has not publicly commented on the senior security official’s remarks.

But the Qatari community has been discussing Khalfan’s statements on social networks, with some mocking his posts under the Twitter hashtag  #ضاحي_خلفان_يطالب_بضم_قطر_للإمارات (Dhahi Khalfan demanding the annexation of Qatar to UAE).

Khalfan also asserted that Emiratis comprise 80 percent of Qatar’s total population, and were the first to name the country’s city Doha, saying: “I hope you’re not upset, this is the truth.”

But Twitter users scorned the remarks, reminding Khalfan that the UAE, along with Qatar and Bahrain, were collectively known as the Trucial States after the British withdrew their colonial presence from the region in 1968.

Diplomatic ties

Some have expressed concern about the online row, saying Khalfan’s tweets could heighten the already existing tension between Qatar and the UAE.

https://twitter.com/MoonNor27/status/450390468938182656

Translation: “I love the UAE and its people, but he’s crazy! It’s not allowed to cause chaos between Gulf countries. Shame on his words.”

The tensions began worsening earlier this year, after the UAE officially objected to a sermon of Al Qaradawi’s. During a broadcast speech, the Egyptian-born Qatari cleric criticized the UAE’s support for Egypt’s new military government, which overthrew Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi last year in Cairo.

Since then, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have pledged billions of dollars in aid to the new government. Qatar meanwhile had backed Morsi’s government and has seen the return of aid it previously offered to his administration.

The situation escalated last month with the withdrawal of Saudi, UAE and Bahrain’s envoys. In addition, Saudi Arabia declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group.

However, many are doubtful that Khalfan’s messages will do anything more than spark ire for now. A think tank source in Qatar who asked to remain anonymous told Doha News:

“His remarks have surprised many people and have done little other than to exacerbate public antipathy between Qatar and the UAE. It is hard to see why such a senior official feels the need to express himself in this way – it is extremely counterproductive.”

He added that the problems between the Gulf countries would be fixed by officials more senior than Khalfan, and “not on Twitter.”

Thoughts?