x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Scholars laud UAE as tolerant society

A group of scholars has praised the UAE as a model of tolerance and religious cohesion, but say it needs to better spread its message across the region so other nations can emulate it.

ABU DHABI // A group of scholars has praised the UAE as a model of tolerance and religious cohesion, but say it needs to better spread its message across the region so other nations can emulate it.

They also said the country's example of how a peaceful society can function had led to the disapproval of groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

The scholars made their comments in a seminar for students, sponsored by Al Mezmaah Studies and Research Centre at Zayed University, on Monday night.

It focused on Islam from political, legal, religions and social perspectives.

They discussed the situation in the UAE amid the Arab Spring and the rise of Islamist movements in other nations.

"The UAE is a good example of how to create a good and stable society without any conflict, especially internal conflict," said Abdulaziz Al Khamis, editor-in-chief of Al Arab newspaper in London .

"For that reason the Emirates is a model for Gulf countries and a good goal for others to reach.

"The Islamist groups think the Emirates model is contrary to their wishes, but the Emirates achieved sound development and a society that gives rights to its people. That is what the Muslim Brotherhood do not like."

Some noted that UAE needs to better communicate its peaceful and collaborative initiatives to the rest of the Arab world.

"What I have found from the Emirates side is a lack of outreach to other Arab audiences in the Arab world," Mr Al Khamis said. "They want to know what is happening in the Emirates."

The conference was held as investigations continue into an organised movement tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, which authorities said sought to undermine the UAE Government and ultimately take over.

They said 60 men had been arrested in connection with the group, which had an organisational structure, a fund-raising unit and was developing a military wing.

The speakers said the Muslim Brotherhood had targeted the UAE, as it did not want countries in the region to be successful.

"The attempts by some movements or organisations to permeate the Emirati people's social structure are nothing new," said the head of the research centre, Dr Salem Hamid.

"But the coherence and the solidarity among the people of the UAE were sufficient to not only thwart these schemes, but also to revive the intrinsic values that have made the Emirati society what it is today."

Dr Rasheed Al Khoyoon, an Iraqi researcher, said: "Islam is a religion and not a political movement, but the Muslim Brotherhood want to use the name of Islam in their propaganda to attract people."

Dr Amal Belhoul Al Falasi, a psychologist, said Muslims wanted to live happily with everyone.

Dr Al Falasi said Islam was respectful and its adherents wanted others to respect the religion, the tradition and the culture, but she was concerned about misleading media portrayals of Islam.

"The weakness about the media in finding truth and reporting positively is the major concern for us," she said.

"I believe that something is wrong with the media … I think media is reading from somewhere else and are not reading the right people."

anwar@thenational.ae