UAE demands Orwellian 'pledge of tolerance' from every Emirati
The United Arab Emirates has asked its citizens to recite 'pledges of tolerance' on social media as part of a bizarre public campaign to rebrand the country's international image even as the country behaves like a de-facto police state.
The Zayed Tolerance Pledge campaign was launched by Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, who asked Emiratis to record their pledges in one of several languages in deference to Sheikh Zayed, the country's founder.
"Let us pledge to promote Zayed's values of tolerance in our society," tweeted Sheikh Abdullah, who is also the Chairman of the Supreme National Committee.
Citizens are asked to use the hashtag #ZayedTolerancePledge.
The campaign urges schools, universities and other institutions across the UAE to take part in the pledge, which consists of nine sentences including lines such as: "I pledge to wish for others what I wish for myself."
Earlier this year the UAE declared 2019 as 'The Year of Tolerance'.
I pledge to uphold the duty of tolerance
I pledge to take a first stand against hate and injustice
I pledge to respect and accept people whose abilities, beliefs and culture are different from my own
I pledge to wish for others what I wish for myself
I pledge to live in harmony with my community
I pledge to always be open to dialogue and forgiveness
I pledge to do my part to create peace for all
I pledge to exercise benevolence and choose kindness in all my dealings with my community
I pledge to always stand up for these values: Zayed's values for tolerance and human fraternity
But since 2011, students, activists, judges, lawyers, academics, students and journalists have been arbitrarily detained, with enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment commonplace.
The 'pledges of tolerance' come amid an unprecedented assault on the freedom of expression and association in the Gulf state.
The announcement was made following the visit of Pope Francis to Abu Dhabi in February, part of rebranding efforts by the Gulf state to present a positive international image.
"Despite its assertions about tolerance, the UAE government has demonstrated no real interest in improving its human rights record," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said earlier this year.
One human rights activist, Ahmed Mansoor, was jailed in 2017 for ten years after criticising the government on social media.
In the weeks leading up to his arrest he had criticised the imprisonment of other activists in the UAE and had used social media to draw attention to rights violations committed in the Yemen war by the Saudi-led coalition, of which the UAE is a key member.
In 2017, the UAE announced 15-jail sentences for anyone who expressed sympathy with Qatar on social media.
Weeks earlier the Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt cut all ties with Qatar, closing its only land border, banning planes from their airspace and barring Qatari nationals from passing through their airports.