Skip to main content

Arabic press review: MBZ ordered my beating, says female Emirati prisoner

Leaked tape alleges that an assault on activist Mariam al-Balushi was ordered by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan (AFP)

Female activist complains of beating in Emirati prison

A rights group has released audio that it says was recorded by activist Mariam al-Balushi, who has been held in an Emirati prison for several years, news website Arabi21 reports.

In the recording, released by the Geneva-based International Centre for Justice and Human Rights, which has shared other recordings from Balushi in the past, she says she and other female detainees held in the al-Wathba State Security Prison have been assaulted by prison guards.

Balushi said in the audio that she had been on hunger strike in order to communicate with her family and had been prevented from walking for three months.

During an interrogation, she said an investigator assaulted her. When she threatened to file a complaint with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ), the investigator said that MBZ was the one who ordered her beating.

After an investigation which lasted for three months, Balushi said she was forced to sign a testimony under pressure of threats and further beatings.

She also said that she told an appeals court presided by Chief Justice Falah al-Hajri that guards were assaulting prisoners, causing some to attempt suicide. He told her to send a letter to the prison director and questioned the validity of her claims, she said.

Balushi was arrested in 2015 during her final year of university on suspicion of financing terrorism after donating around $600 to a Syrian family, according to the Emirates Centre for Human Rights.

Saudi Arabia: New measures against famous cleric

Saudi authorities have banned Sheikh Mohammad al-Arifi, the kingdom's most famous Islamic scholar, from travelling, Prisoners of Conscience, a group which tweets about detainees held in Saudi Arabia, has reported.

"Authorities have banned Arifi from travelling. Therefore, he won’t be able to leave the capital, Riyadh," said the account. Arifi was previously banned from travelling to Mecca for Hajj and Umrah.

In September, the group said that authorities had prevented Arifi from lecturing in mosques and practising all religious activities in the kingdom.

Prisoner of Conscience has become well known since the start of a sweep of arrests that began in Saudi Arabia last year, sharing details about those who have been detained.

Small change in Tunisia

A Tunisian NGO triggered waves of criticism after revealing that Tunisian MPs were being charged $1.50 for each parliamentary session that they missed, the London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi reports.

Nesrine Jlaya, the executive director of Al-Bawsala, said that the parliament president has recently deducted $29 from the monthly wages of 20 MPs who have been absent without an excuse.

"Tunisia is a country of injustice, nepotism and bribery, a country of oppression and political hypocrisy," wrote activist Hoda Ben Nasr.

"Cut one percent of the wages of employees and retirees, and live at the expense of poor people," Abdul Raouf, another activist, was quoted as saying.

Others joked about how MPs would be able to get through the month on reduced pay.

*Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.