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UAE ruling family member held after reform calls

UAE ruling family member held after reform calls

Sheikh Sultan al-Qassimi, a cousin of the ruler of the northern emirate who also heads an Islamist group whose members have been targeted by security authorities, was taken from his house by armed men on Friday night and has since been held at the ruler's palace

April 25, 2012 11:03 by



A senior member of the ruling family in the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah is being held at the ruler’s palace, his son said on Tuesday, amid a tightening of restrictions on Islamists in the UAE. Sheikh Sultan al-Qassimi, a cousin of the ruler of the northern emirate who also heads an Islamist group whose members have been targeted by security authorities, was taken from his house by armed men on Friday night and has since been held at the ruler’s palace. News of the detention first came from activists who said he had been arrested by security services. His son said he had been taken to the palace of the Ras al-Khaimah ruler.

“My father has been arrested on Friday night. We were surprised when armed men came to the house. They took him to the palace of Sheikh Saud al-Qassimi,” Sheikh Abdullah al-Qassimi told Reuters by telephone. “He has been kept alone in a locked room with armed guards,” he said after visiting Sheikh Sultan, denying that his father had been detained due to a family spat.

There has been no official comment and it was not immediately clear why Sheikh Sultan was being held. Police officials in Ras al-Khaimah could not be reached for comment. Activists from Ras al-Khaimah said they believed Sheikh Sultan, who is chairman of the Islamist al-Islah(Reform) group, had been targeted because he had signed a petition sent to UAE leaders requesting the country’s Federal National Council (FNC), an advisory body, be given more powers.

The UAE is wary that the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, once a close ally of the Gulf Arab state, could embolden its own Islamists.

(Reporting by Isabel Coles in Dubai and Raissa Kasolowsky in Abu Dhabi; Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Janet Lawrence)



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