British man detained in UAE after wearing Qatar football shirt to match
Updated: Nov 17, 2020
Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, responds to UAE denials concerning the case of Ali Issa Ahmad
“Because of the limited communication allowed by the UAE to those in custody, the exact details of what happened to Ali Issa Ahmad remain vague. The UAE has claimed that Ali is now being charged with filing a false report to police of having been targeted and attacked for wearing a Qatar national football team shirt; a charge to which they claim he has confessed. This is not the first time an official government version of events drastically differs from that provided by an expat in UAE custody. Nor do confessions in UAE custody carry any weight, given the fact that forced confessions have been documented time and time again. Most recently, the UAE claimed that Matthew Hedges had confessed to espionage, for instance.
What we know is that the UAE does prosecute anyone who expresses sympathy for Qatar in any way; we know that Qatari football officials were barred entry into the country; we know that Qatari fans were not allowed into the UAE to support their team, and that local fans threw sandals at Qatari players during the matches. Tensions are running extremely high; and we know what Ali Issa Ahmad conveyed to his friends and family about having been arrested and beaten. If he has been forced to recant those allegations, and is now being punished for having reported them to police in the first place, it is extremely concerning.
It is a pattern with the UAE and other Gulf States to issue official denials and counter-narratives that absolve the government of wrongdoing. We saw this in the abduction of Sheikha Latifa, the killing of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia, in the case of Matthew Hedges, and countless examples over the last several years.”