x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Indian groups closed over 'wrong licences'

Two Indian centres in Sharjah have been ordered shut by UAE government authorities.

DUBAI // Authorities have recently shut down at least two Indian organisations that held classes on the Quran because it is believed they did not possess the correct licences.

The Indian Islahi Centre and Dar Al Huda, both in Sharjah, were ordered to cease operations by Sharjah authorities two months ago, a source said.

A volunteer at the Indian Islahi Centre, who asked not to be named, said: "Several organisations in Sharjah were asked to stop as per an order by the government. At least 10 other organisations, including ours, were ordered to close."

The Indian Islahi Centre's licence was due for renewal at the end of this year.

The volunteer's comments followed the closures last month of the American non-profit organisation National Democratic Institute in Dubai and the Abu Dhabi offices of the German think tank Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

The volunteer said both Sharjah Indian centres had been conducting Quran classes for hundreds of children, spreading Islamic teachings, and holding Arabic language classes for children and adults.

The Indian Islahi Centre was also organising community gatherings since its inception more than 20 years ago in Sharjah, the volunteer said. The centre has at least seven branches in the Emirates, including four in Dubai. Only the Sharjah branch has been shut.

"We were told by authorities that we needed a school licence for holding classes for students and were asked to conduct other activities at the mosque nearby, instead of the centre," he said.

No one from Dar Al Huda could be reached for comment.

Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had directed the closure of some foreign institutions in the country.

"Some foreign institutions that were operating in the UAE have violated the terms of the licence," Dr Abdul Rahim Al Awadhi, the Assistant Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs, told the state news agency Wam.

"Some have been operating without a licence. This obliged the legal authorities to issue instructions that they should cease their work in the UAE," Dr Al Awadhi said.

Yesterday, the Indian Embassy said it was aware that the Government had shut down some organisations.

MK Lokesh, the Indian ambassador, said: "These are not organisations registered with us. No Indian organisation registered with the missions has been closed. We don't keep contacts with unregistered centres."

He said it was up to local authorities to decide if they wanted to close licensed or unlicensed centres.

pkannan@thenational.ae