Last night, with great fanfare, it was announced that U.S. airstrikes on the Islamic State, focusing on the city of Raqqah, Syria were “joined” by five regional “moderate Sunni Arab allies,” namely the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrein, and Qatar. The UAE was singled out, perhaps because of its recently reported air strikes on jihadist militias in Libya.
London Telegraph analyst David Blair, however, provided this note of caution about the potential extent of UAE involvement:
But the UAE shares the traditional Arab reluctance to join Western-led military offensives. Whether its air force is carrying out combat sorties in Syria is unclear. If not, the UAE’s role may be confined to opening its air space and allowing the US to use al-Minhad military air base near Dubai.
While we withhold our collective breathless anticipation to learn which significant IS (or other “un-Islamic” jihad terrorist) targets the crack UAE pilots have destroyed—or “allowed” our own brave U.S. pilots to destroy—assessing the authentic “moderate” Islamic Weltanschauung of our Emirati allies, is a sobering experience.
Fortunately, the combined efforts (largely) of our own U.S. Department of State (USDOS, here, here), and Congressional Research Service, render clear understanding of the UAE’s Sharia-based worldview a straightforward task. What these reports reveal, in summary, is that the UAE is a Sharia-supremacist Muslim state, and a thoroughly anti-democratic despotism, even beyond the application of Islamic law, per se.
Briefly, here are salient examples of the UAE’s unmollified Sharia supremacism—and its predictable consequences for women and non-Muslims—derived (mostly verbatim) from the USDOS (here, here) reports.
- The constitution declares that Islam is the official religion of all seven of the constituent emirates of the federal union and defines all citizens as Muslims.
- The penal code allows men to use physical means, including violence, at their discretion against female and minor family members. Thus: “Domestic abuse against women, including spousal abuse, remained a problem. There were reports that employers raped or sexually assaulted foreign domestic workers. These cases rarely went to court, and those that did had a low conviction rate. In sharia courts, which are primarily responsible for civil matters between Muslims, the extremely high burden of proof for a rape case contributed to a low conviction rate. In addition, female victims of rape or other sexual crimes faced the possibility of prosecution for consensual sex instead of receiving assistance from government authorities.”
- There is no freedom of conscience. Conversion from Islam to another religion is not recognized (and no data are available detailing the number of conversions). The legal punishment for conversion from Islam is death. Apostasy is criminalized by the UAE through the incorporation of the concept of hudud crimes (i.e., those demanding mandatory and draconian punishments, such as death) under Sharia into its Penal Code. Those crimes include adultery, apostasy, murder, theft, highway robbery that involves killing, and a false accusation of committing adultery. Article 1 of the Penal Code provides that Islamic law applies to hudud crimes, the acceptance of blood money, and homicide. In addition, article 66 states that among the “original punishments” under the law are the punishments of hudud crimes, including by imposing the death penalty.
- There is no freedom of speech/communication about religion (or politics; see later, below). While the law permits Muslims to proselytize non-Muslims, it prohibits efforts to convert Muslims to any other faith. The government prohibits proselytizing and the distribution of non-Islamic religious literature under penalty of criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and deportation. The law prohibits proselytizing for any religion other than Islam. The government sometimes threatens to revoke the residence permits of persons suspected of proselytizing for a religion other than Islam. The law also provides penalties for using the Internet to preach against Islam, proselytize Muslims, “abuse” a holy shrine or ritual of any religion, insult any religion, and incite someone to commit sin or contravene “family values.”
- The government annually publishes a list of foreign residents who have converted to Islam. As the government does not recognize or permit conversion from Islam to another religion, churches recognized converts from all religions except Islam. Many non-Muslim women faced strong societal pressure to convert to Islam, especially upon marriage to a Muslim.
- The government does not permit instruction in any religion other than Islam in public schools.
- Islamic studies are mandatory in public schools and in private schools serving Muslim children.
- The law prohibits churches from erecting bell towers or displaying crosses on the outside of their premises.
- There are no public Jewish synagogues, or Hindu or Buddhist temples in the UAE despite the presence of foreign workers from these faith groups in the Emirates.
- The law requires Muslims and non-Muslims to refrain from eating, drinking, and smoking in public during fasting hours in the month of Ramadan.
- The law prohibits black magic, sorcery, and incantations, which are punishable by a prison term ranging from six months to three years and deportation.
- The law provides for corporal punishment for sexual relations and pregnancy outside of marriage.
- Under sharia individuals who engage in consensual same-sex sexual conduct are subject to the death penalty. Article 177 of Dubai’s penal code allows for up to a 10-year prison sentence for consensual sex.
Consistent with the liberty-crushing practices of the UAE’s despotic government, enshrined into “civil law,” as well as the Sharia, are prohibitions on criticism of the ruling elite, the formation of any political parties, and “whatever is deemed derogatory to Islam,” or “supportive of Israeli government positions.” Regarding the latter, unbridled, virulent Islamic Jew-hatred of course is under no similar “legal” constraint. For example, citing the familiar canonical hadith of Jew-annihilation, allegedly spoken by Islam’s prophet Muhammad (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985) to usher in the messianic age, a UAE “professor,” Mustafa Muslim from The University of Sharija, intoned:
If the Jews were scattered throughout the world, how could we find them in order to fight them? The war between us and the Jews is a religious war. This is not a war over a path, a land or anything like that. It is part of the Koran that was given at Mecca, before the Muslims even met the Jews …(The Israelites) have spread all over the world. Now Allah gathers them in this land. He brings them in groups from countries all over the world in order to fulfill Allah’s universal law: “Judgment Day will come when the Muslims fight the Jews, and the stone and the tree say, ‘Oh, Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is Jew behind me. Come and kill him.’”
Notwithstanding this Jew-murder-inciting commentary by one of its faculty, The University of Sharija’s website, under Visitor Information, states,
The Emirate of Sharjah is renowned for its vibrant multicultural ambiance, diverse museums, reflecting both rich cultural heritage and contemporary artwork, and a charming blend of historical and modern architectural sites.
Moreover, foreign “temporary” workers suffer brutal—at times lethal—abuses in the UAE:
It was relatively common for employers to subject migrant workers, predominantly from South and East Asia and employed in construction and domestic work, to conditions indicative of forced labor, such as nonpayment of wages, withholding passports, threats, and physical or sexual abuse. Employers routinely subjected domestic workers to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; in a few cases, such abuse led to death….[E]mployers routinely held employees’ passports, thus restricting their freedom of movement. In some cases employers reportedly prevented domestic workers from leaving the country by withholding their passports. Upon arrival in the country, employers required some foreign workers to sign contracts that had lower salaries or involved a different type of work than was stated in the original contracts signed in their country of origin, a practice known as “contract switching.”
Finally, it is unsurprising the ruling, unelected UAE despotism has also cracked down upon U.S. (and other Western) democracy-promotion groups trying to operate within the Emirates, and these repressive actions have engendered scant protest from the U.S., loathe to confront its “anti-IS ally.”