Sheikh Abdullah speaks out against racism amid worldwide Black Lives Matter protests
Fighting racism is duty of state and family, says UAE's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed has become one of the first Arab leaders to speak out against racism amid the Black Lives Matter protests being held across the world.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation shared his thoughts on racism against black people on Saturday, saying it was everyone's duty to stand against it.
"Combating racism is a duty of the state and the family," Sheikh Abdullah said on Twitter. "Homelands are built on coexistence and brotherhood."
The Black Lives Matter movement was reignited two weeks ago by the killing of African-American man George Floyd by police in Minnesota.
Since then, tens of thousands have taken to the streets around the world to protest against racism.
Sheikh Abdullah accompanied his tweet with a video of Maryam Abu Khaled, a Palestinian film director and actress with a social media following of more than 200,000 people.
In the video, Abu Khaled, a black woman from Jenin, says she has been criticised for comparing racism in the US with that experienced by black people in the Arab world.
She says that, while black people are not killed by police in the Arab world, racism is a problem in the Middle East and is perpetuated by seemingly innocent comments that are very damaging.
"Do you know that the things you say 'as a joke' break the spirit of the person before you and make them lose confidence in you?" Abu Khaled asks.
She says Arabs have grown used to this casual racism and she calls for more self-awareness to break the cycle by not passing these notions on to children.
Abu Khaled says she has heard parents telling their children, not to play outdoors too long or they will "get sunburnt and start looking like Maryam", or explaining to their children that black people are dark-skinned because they were "left in the oven".
She tells of overhearing adults discussing whether or not black people lose pigmentation in swimming pools because of chlorine.
Abu Khaled calls out people who covet paler skin tones and associate beauty with whiteness.
"People who say these things should stop because it's not too late," she says.
"We can teach the new generation [not to be this way] because they are most important.
Abu Khaled says race can be explained to children plainly and without prejudice.
"Children's hearts are naturally pure and they love to learn, so teach them what is right."
Floyd was suspected of using a forged $20 bill on May 25.
He was arrested and thrown to the ground while officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
Floyd's death was recorded on video and widely shared online. In it, he can be heard begging for his life and repeatedly telling officers, "I can't breathe".
All four former police officers have been arrested in connection to the death. Mr Chauvin is now charged with second-degree murder.
Three other former Minneapolis police officers – Tou Thao, Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, who were with Chauvin at the time of the killing – were charged with aiding and abetting murder.
Updated: June 8, 2020 09:34 AM