[QODLink]
Middle East
UAE detains pro-democracy activists
Officials detain two activists advocating democratic reforms, following last week's arrest of prominent blogger.
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2011 23:47
There are no official opposition groups in the UAE and political parties are banned [GALLO/GETTY]

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have detained two more activists advocating democratic reforms in the oil-rich nation where most political activity is banned, a lawyer has said.

The pair include Nasser bin Ghaith, one of the country's most outspoken academics, who is a financial analyst and an economics professor at the Abu Dhabi branch of Paris' Sorbonne university.

He was detained on Sunday in Dubai, according to Mohammed al-Mansouri, the lawyer and a fellow activist.

Bin Gaith has frequently criticised the Gulf region's rulers for refusing to consider all but the most limited of political reforms and for failing to provide a legal framework for the rapid economic development of the past decade.

The other activist, Fahad Salem al-Shehhy, was detained late Saturday in Ajman, another of the federation's emirates north of Dubai, al-Mansouri said.

Al-Shehhy has been participating in an online forum calling for free elections and other democratic reforms in the UAE, an alliance of seven emirates run by ruling families.

The forum had been led by Ahmed Mansour, a blogger and human rights activist, who himself was arrested on Friday in Dubai after he signed a petition in favour of an elected parliament.

Police and government officials have not responded to calls for comment, and representatives of Sorbonne Abu Dhabi could not immediately be reached.

Online petition

Political activity is severely restricted in the UAE, there are no official opposition groups and political parties are banned.

The federation has not seen the kind of pro-reform unrest spreading elsewhere around the Middle East and no protests have taken place since the uprisings against autocratic rulers started in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year.

There has, however, been an increase in online discussions about the need for political reform.

Last month, 130 people signed a petition demanding constitutional and parliamentary changes in the UAE, free elections for all citizens and more of a share of the country's oil wealth.

A similar petition was also sent a few days ago.

Activists have complained of increased harassment and monitoring of blogs and social media in the past year.

Mansour told the Associated Press news agency on Thursday that he had been getting threats for signing the petitions calling for an elected parliament.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
Early players in private medicine often focused on volume over quality, turning many Chinese off for-profit care.
Al Jazeera asked people across Scotland what they think about the prospect of splitting from the United Kingdom.
Blogger critical of a lack of government transparency faces defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
join our mailing list