The ruler of Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday renewed his allegiance to the Gulf federation’s leadership and criticised those who have “offended” it.
“A group of sons of this nation have gathered in an organisation that aims to destroy and offend this nation and its leaders,” Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al-Qassimi said in a statement carried by official news agency WAM.
“On this day we affirm our pledge to the President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan… We are with him whichever path he may choose. He is the father and the leader,” said Sheikh Saud.
“We condemn any attempt to offend this nation.”
On July 15, the UAE announced it had dismantled a group it said was plotting against state security and challenging the constitution of the Gulf state but did not identify their affiliation or give the number of arrests.
Amnesty later said 35 activists were arrested in July, raising the number of those held since March to 50.
“We have the right today to blame this group and not accept their offences to their country and leadership,” said Saud. “Our doors are open for everyone, why address the nation via foreign” countries?”
Among those detained is a member of the ruling family of Ras al-Khaimah.
Sheikh Sultan al-Qassimi, a first cousin of the ruler and head of the local branch of the Islamist group Al-Islah, was arrested in April by “armed men in civilian clothing,” his son Sheikh Abdullah told AFP.
But an informed tribal source said Sheikh Sultan had been placed under “house arrest” following a “family” dispute within the Al-Qassimi clan. He insisted there was no involvement by the security services.
The UAE, a federation of seven emirates led by oil-rich Abu Dhabi, has not seen the kind of pro-reform protests that have swept other Arab countries, including Gulf neighbours Bahrain and Oman, since last year.
But the Abu Dhabi government has increased its clampdown on voices of dissent and calls for democratic reforms.