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Emirati writer fired from Arab League job over opinion piece

ANHRI

(ANHRI/IFEX) - On 28 June 2010, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemned the decision of the secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, to expel Emirati writer and poet Dhabiya Khamis, director of the missions administration since 1992, and a minister plenipotentiary at the League. The decision related to an opinion piece published on Khamis's blog, Rouh Sha'aera, commenting on the book, "Arab League, what is left?", which criticises the performance of the Arab League in recent years.

Dhabiya Khamis has faced intimidation since publishing the piece on her blog in September 2009. She was eventually expelled on 21 June 2010 and assaulted by some of Amr Moussa's assistants. She is denied entry to the Arab League premises and was prevented from accessing the expulsion decision document. In addition, all her belongings at the League were seized.

The writer and her lawyer attempted to file a complaint against the Arab League staff who assaulted her. However, they were unsuccessful as officers at the police station were reluctant to record the complaint.

"It's shocking that the most eminent Arabic institution, the Arab League, would decide to fire one of its staff after so many years over an opinion piece. Freedom of expression is not a slogan in a golden frame but rather a practice and a commitment. Unfortunately, the Arab League gave a poor example in dealing with this important value," ANHRI said.

ANHRI is calling on the secretary general of the Arab League to rescind the decision and to respect freedom of opinion and expression, so as not to provide a bad example for thousands of workers in this Arabic institute on how to tolerate criticism and practice freedom of expression.

Read Dhabiya Khamis's article (in Arabic)

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