Social media erupts over Qataris’ arrest

July 07, 2014 - 6:13:23 am

DOHA: Three Qataris on a visit to Abu Dhabi to meet relatives have been detained by the authorities there, local Arabic daily Al Arab reported yesterday.

The arrests, made in an inhuman way in the holy month of Ramadan a few days ago, have led to strong reactions in the Qatari community.

Qataris took to the social media in a big way yesterday to express their anger. A counter-campaign was launched by social media users in the UAE.

Al Arab said the three arrested had been put in jail and were being tortured. The detention breaches the Convention of the GCC unity and the spirit of brotherhood and neighborly relations among the member-states, said Al Arab. 

“These are politically motivated arrests and a repetition of what happened to Dr Mehmood Al Jaidah in February of last year.”

Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet posted on its website that it would comment on the issue only after it has made all its efforts to resolve the issue.

However, taking part in the twitter campaign titled ‘hashtag Arrest of Qataris in the UAE’, a large number of people have aired concerns. At least one commentator said he wondered why Qatar’s Foreign Ministry was not disclosing the identity of those arrested.

Another questioned if Al Arab newspaper had taken up the role of Qatar’s Foreign Ministry. One commentator said the warning published by Al Arab asking Qatari citizens not to travel to the UAE concerns only the newspaper and its readers.

“How about those Qataris who are travelling to Libya and Iraq,” asked the commentator.

Yet another commentator said if Qatari citizens were being arrested by the UAE authorities then an announcement should be made by Qatari government warning its citizens against travelling to the country.

One person said it is not enough for Qatar’s ambassador to visit the three who have been arrested. 

“The Ministry must tell us whether we can travel to the UAE because Qataris were being arrested by the authorities there without any reason,” said a tweeter. The Peninsula

Famous Qatari newspaper columnist, Faisal Al Marzouki, meanwhile, tweeted that Al Arab didn’t mention the names of those arrested respecting the wishes of their family members.

Abdullah Al Athba, prominent Qatari journalist who works with Al Arab, tweeted, talking of rising bitterness between the UAE and Qatar, that Dahi Khalfan, Dubai police chief, had launched a media campaign against Qatar in January 2012 saying that it threatened the security of the whole GCC region.

On March 15 this year, Khalfan tweeted that Qatar should be given a deadline after Eid Al Fitr to remain part of the folk (GCC) or to be said goodbye, said Al Atbha.

He went on to say that a UAE professor of Qatar University, Dr Abdul Khaliq Abdullah, said that Qatar should be aware that the media projecting it as the enemy of the GCC would have a dangerous impact on the image of the country.

The UAE, said Al Atbha, had become a shelter for people like Ahmed Shafique (former Egyptian premier) and Palestenian Mohamed Dahlan who are critical of Qatar for its role in the Arab Spring.

In November 2012, the UAE backed supporters of Bashar Al Assad of Syria against Qatar which was supporting the Syrian people, said Atbha.

Yet another commentator said that his information suggested that the trio was detained at the headquarters of Abu Dhabi’s secret police at Khalid ibn Walid Street.

“It is quite known that those who are arrested and detained at the secret police headquarters are tortured for the first three months to make them confess (their crime),” said the commentator.

Some tweeters said, in veiled criticism of Qatar’s foreign ministry, that although they respected the ministry they didn’t think that details would be given by it soon.

In reaction to these comments, the Ministry tweeted on its website saying “The state never abandons its citizens and takes all possible action through legal and diplomatic channels to safeguard its nationals”.

After Dr Al Jaidah, Al Arab, in its report about the arrest of the three Qatari citizens, racelled yesterday how Qatari journalist Abdul Aziz Al Mahmoud’s entry in the UAE is banned.

Al Jaidah’s was not the first case of a Qatari having been arrested in the UAE. Al Mahmoud was on a transit in the UAE as he was travelling by Qatar Airways somewhere. He was arrested for two hours and sent back to Doha, said Al Arab.

The newspaper recalled how eight Kuwaiti students from Ajman and Sharjah universities were deported accused of forming students’ unions without permission from the universities.

UAE newspaper except Al Ittehad Al Zebaniya had supported UK newspaper that had challenged the right of Qatar to host the world Cup 2022, said Al Arab.

Then, the UAE had hosted a number of conferences and events that were critical of Qatar’s role in Arab Spring, said Al Arab.

Meanwhile, Al Sharq reported yesterday that two Qatari youth had been arrested by Abu Dhani at Al Kuwaifat check-post last month-end.

One is from Al Mulla family, while the other is from Al Hammadi family.

They were travelling in their cars. One of them had entered Abu Dhabi while there was delay in the stamping of entry in the case of the other.

The one who was delayed called his friend who entered and said that his stamping was taking time, he returned and was arrested, said Al Sharq.

Qatari authorities have begun communicating with their UAE counterparts to acquire the release of the duo, said Al Sharq.

The UAE has not disclosed the reason of their arrest. The duo is in Abu Dhabi prison and no one has been allowed to see them.

Al Sharq said that of late a number of Qataris travelling to the UAE and facing difficulties in getting into the neighboring country.

The Peninsula

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