The UAE has declared 2019 to be a “year of tolerance”. Tolerance is highly valued in religions and humanity, and it appears that the State Security Department has ruined the concept. Maybe this concept originally intended to disappoint Emiratis with the possibility of reconciling with the violations and abuses committed against them.
At the time the State Security Department carries out propaganda for “tolerance,” it painted a bleak picture of the frightening face of the UAE in terms of human rights.
In the name of tolerance, authorities justify surveilling mosques, chasing bloggers, targeting families of detainees and building a large spy empire, issuing laws that dehumanization the person and obscure his mind from thinking or expression, and provide terrorism as a loose formula to undermine the citizens and bloggers.
Pope Francis’ visit was not in support of state tolerance, but a message of support for “repression” and “policies of the State Security Department.” His speeches and prayers have not touched Nasser bin Ghaith, UAE economist who has been on a hunger strike for weeks. He did not bother to discuss the prominent activist Ahmed Mansoor status, or the detainee Alia Abdel Nour situation, who has been suffering from cancer in the State Security Department prisons for years.
The pope failed to send the moral message of tolerance on his first visit to the Arabian Peninsula, and Abu Dhabi failed to respect humanity and its citizens’ rights.
The Pope’s visit helped the State Security Department to ruin the concept of “tolerance” within the UAE and kept the face of violations targeting state’s inhabitants whether they were citizens or residents.
It is not shaming that the UAE, or other countries, launches such beautiful initiatives, neither to boast that it is the first Gulf state to be visited by the Pope.
But the problem is that such initiatives are coming from a country that is far from tolerance and moderation. The UAE hands are stained with blood, in Yemen, Libya, Egypt, and Syria. It provides generous support to the rest of the Arab authorities in order to deepen repression, oppression, and murder. Not to mention its crimes inside the UAE.
We have not heard or seen the UAE tolerance with the children of Yemen and its old men and women who starve because of the war waged by the UAE in alliance with Saudi Arabia, under the cover of the so-called Arab Alliance. Thousands of children have paid their lives for this war.
That was what the Pope reminded them, in his statements on his way to Abu Dhabi to attend the conference, and appealed to stop the war on Yemen.
We also did not hear of this tolerance when the British Ph.D. student, Matthew Hedges, who was arrested and tortured for more than six months in Abu Dhabi, charged with collaboration and sentenced to life imprisonment before being pardoned after strong British pressure. Taysir al-Najjar, a Jordanian journalist who was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, was not tolerated because of a “post” he wrote on Facebook. His sentence ended in December and was not released because he did not pay his fine, which is 500,000 AED.
The horrific UAE crimes and abuses of human rights are exposed every day with every new news. The UAE hired information security mercenaries in order to spy on dissident political activists not only inside but also outside UAE. Reuters reported a week ago in a report on intelligence programs run and supervised by the UAE and used against local and regional foes.
The tolerance, then, transformed, at the hands of the UAE, from a supreme human value and purpose, into a political game used as part of a public relations campaign aimed at whitewashing its ugly policies and improving its image in the West. The UAE seeks to the West in various ways to ensure their support implanting its regional project, in which it seeks to gain more power and impact.