Enemies of the UAE using Twitter to attack the nation, Khalfan says
ABU DHABI // The UAE’s enemies were accused on Monday of misusing social media to spread lies that could taint the country’s image and promote terrorism.
Some Arabs used Twitter in particular for political rather than social reasons, Dubai’s deputy chairman of police security told an audience of government officials, including Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, the Minister of Interior.
“Terrorist organisations and armed terrorists are using social media in the worst way possible,” Lt Gen Dhahi Khalfan Tamim said.
There were trivial and foolish rumours about National Day being a celebration for dancers and drunks, and another on a Moroccan woman gaining UAE citizenship, but others threatened conflict in society as they tried to destroy relations between Sunnis and Shiites, Gen Tamim said.
“Rumours were spreading that the UAE has deported Shiites. This is not true, they are very happy and comfortable. But some simple people who are less educated see this and believe it.”
He warned that the people spreading these rumours had a large number of followers.
Another, he said, tweeted that if the UAE had universal suffrage, the Muslim Brotherhood would win the elections. The person who tweeted that was probably Palestinian, he said.
“If the Brotherhood ran a million times, no one would welcome them. The people of the UAE know exactly who to pick.
The UAE was also attacked for preventing Syrians from protesting against Bashar Al Assad outside the Syrian consulate.
“They said we are deporting Syrians and locking them in prisons,” said Gen Tamim. “I swear I did not imprison anyone who protested against Bashar.”
He said the Muslim Brotherhood used religion to promote its political agenda. “When they discovered social media, instead of using it as it is, they used it for political communication.”
He singled out Essam El Erian, a Muslim Brotherhood member with a track record of insulting comments about the UAE.
Gen Tamim showed the audience screen shots of tweets comparing the UAE to Egypt’s old regime.
“We are supports of Hosni [Mubarak] and [Zein El Abidine] Ben Ali,” he read aloud. “Look at the lies. Why all these lies on the UAE?
“Another said Egypt’s security was causing disorder in society, and is so in the UAE. Social media showed the truth about these people.”
Gen Tamim said he supported security checks to identify people who were a threat to national security.
“If security says these are the people that follow blindly the Muslim Brotherhood general guide, how can we allow them to work here?”
Terrorist organisations were also using Twitter to call for protests and spread slogans from Rabaa, the square where pro-Morsi supporters protest in Cairo.
“One mirrored the slogan of Rabaa and found that it resembled a cow,” he said as the audience broke out in laughter. “God didn’t even help them in their slogan.
“I asked Dubai security to set up a force to respond to these, but they said no. So I used my site to fight them.”
Finally, he said, Islamist scholars were also misusing social media, including Yousif Al Qaradawi, whose recent verbal attack on the UAE sparked a diplomatic protest.
“A lot of security officials did not know the possible effects of social media,” he said. “It has good effects. Unfortunately, Arabs use it for political reasons.”
He called on the Government to form a higher committee to fight online attacks against the UAE.
Published: February 3, 2014 04:00 AM