The United Arab Emirates is best known for its prosperity, its recreation and its hospitality. But a recent incident involving torture by a member of the royal family has left an indelible mark on that country which has yet to be addressed openly and justly. Sheik Issa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a son of the late UAE president and brother of Abu Dhabi's crown prince, was involved in videotaped torturing of an Afghan immigrant over a business deal worth $5,000. The appalling video of his gruesome acts against a defenseless man has been shown throughout the internet and network television, including on ABC and CNN.
Al Nahyan is seen beating the victim with nails protruding from a piece of wood, burning him with a cattle prod, and pouring salt over the wounds. The man is then tied like cattle and the Sheik gets into his Mercedes SUV and runs over the victim's legs back and forth. What makes it more shocking is that the culprits wanted it videotaped and they officially reported that the police, who acted as accomplices in this barbarism, followed protocol. Just as in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, the authorities claimed that the guards were acting according to "Standard Operating Procedures."
Additionally, with the recent release of four "torture memos" by the Obama administration, it has become evident that the Bush administration authorized a range of inhumane interrogation techniques in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. While some may think they can skirt around the issue of torture by playing word games, any extreme form of mental or physical harm constitutes torture and is prohibited by law. Whether in the United States, at Guantanamo Bay, or the Middle East -- those who justify torture must be held accountable.
Therefore it is imperative for the American Muslim community to make it clear that we will not tolerate any form of torture, anywhere, and against anyone. Period. This is why MPAC has signed onto one such petition voicing opposition to torture from an Islamic standpoint, and it's why we will continue to call on our government to hold the perpetrators of torture accountable.
Just as we have decried the vicious treatment of prisoners by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib, the American Muslim community must also speak out against the rampant use of torture by those in the Muslim world. As we continue to see the widespread use of torture around the world, it is time to take a stand for human dignity against the cruel and inhumane treatment of anyone. While many cases of torture in Muslim countries go unreported, it is up to us as American Muslims to change that course and stand up for justice.