Anger and confusion has been sparked with the recent United Arab Emirates (UAE) "terrorist organisations" list which includes several prominent Western Muslim charities and civil society groups.
Islamic Relief, a much-respected UK-based international aid agency; the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation in the US; and the Muslim Association of Britain are among some of the international associations and foundations included on the list which is dominated by groups linked to the Muslim Brotherhood but also includes a number of Shia Muslim movements.
Islamic Relief, which has over 100 global branches and delivers aid in partnership with the UN agencies such as the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), has also faced accusations of association with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which has links to the Muslim Brotherhood. Islamic Relief has repeatedly denied the claims.
Representatives from the British groups have spoken of their shock at being named on the list and some say they are considering legal action. The governments of Norway and the UK also confirmed they are seeking official clarifications from the UAE.
Islamic Relief, which partners with the UN and is a member of the UK's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) grouping, said that they “categorically refute any allegation of links to terrorism”.
They organisation has stated that they assume that their inclusion on the UAE list which was drafted in August this year but released on 15th November, is a mistake and that they will be seeking clarification from the UAE Embassy on this matter, with a view to having this wrongful listing removed.
There has been some confusion over the translation of the names on the list, which appeared differently in Arabic and English. In one translation shared by the UAE state news agency, MAB was referred to in English as the Islamic Association in Britain.
A spokesman for the UK's Department for International Development (DFID), which in 2013 gave GB£3.2million (US$5million) to Islamic Relief, has said that all of their funding to UK charities is subject to strict controls to ensure it is used only as intended. They are now seeking further clarity from the Emiratis on their rationale for some of these designations, and any practical implications.
The anti-terrorism laws defines a terrorist offence as "any action or inaction made a crime by this law and every action or inaction made a crime by any other law if they are carried out for a terrorist cause".
Penalties include fines of up to US$27million, life imprisonment and capital punishment.