The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a long tradition of targeting Islam and Muslims, to the extent that American journalist Robert F. Worth, writing for the New York Times, talks of “counterjihad,” a term generally used for proud Islamophobes.
Everyone knows what’s referred to here, from the assistance to Saudi Arabia in its proto-genocide in Yemen to regularly forcing “Islamic reform” or the opening of idolaters’ temples in the country.
Now it seems they are literally pushing their own Emirati children towards apostasy by replacing Islam with nationalism.
This is what Ryan Bohl, an educator who served as a teacher in the UAE (and in Qatar), wrote for the New Lines magazine :
My role was humble, but from 2009 to 2013, I helped reshape the UAE’s national narrative for a new generation — a narrative that would emphasize a nationalism that would see the UAE deploy its youth to far-flung battlefields in Yemen and plunge others into 21st-century economics and international culture.
After some personal anecdotes, not of too much interest for us, he does give credit to MBZ, who apparently was so fond of this modernist project in education that he wanted to hasten the process:
The teaching mission was not meant to begin in 2009, but a year later: Advisers said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the de facto leader of the UAE, had decided the job was too urgent to slip another year.
Of course, as with all Arab autocracies, the target is always “political Islam,” “Islamism,” or, when they want to name the bogeyman, the “Muslim Brotherhood.” This is their existential insecurity of being illegitimate rulers imposing liberal secularism on the pious Muslim masses:
Over time, I learned we had helped the UAE achieve one of the crown prince’s strategic objectives: a subtle purge of Muslim Brotherhood influence in Emirati schools. Back in the 1980s, the Emiratis had brought thousands of teachers and professors from countries like Egypt and the Levant to staff their schools; many had Muslim Brotherhood ties, which, in the 1980s, was considered relatively harmless by UAE authorities. That had changed by the time I was there in 2009: The crown prince saw the Muslim Brotherhood as a direct challenge to Emirati stability and wanted to push their influence out of the country; the schools themselves were just one target. It was not necessary to fire all the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated teachers at once, simply to send the message that one could be fired for such an association — and that the replacement could well be a non-Muslim Westerner almost assured to have no Muslim Brotherhood sympathies.
Of course, we have to wonder, what does being MB-affiliated mean? Does it just mean being “overly” religious? Does it mean opposing the secularization of Muslim countries?
In any case, the article doesn’t give full details of this new modernist curriculum, but here are the shocking results:
There were everyday reminders of this social change, as well. Each morning, groggy students shuffled into the school courtyard for announcements, a reading from the Quran and the national anthem. Like at so many teen assemblies, the boys usually talked over the announcements and even ignored the Quran readings. But the moment the national anthem came on, they would freeze in place, regardless of where they were standing, and come to attention, knowing that if they did fall out of line or crack a joke at this moment it would be met with severe retribution, either in public or later in the principal’s office. I had been initially shocked to see that they did not do the same for the Quran, but the reasoning was clear: The UAE was de-emphasizing Islam in public life, refashioning it as less central.
This is the conclusion: “the UAE was de-emphasizing Islam in public life, refashioning it as less central”, which is another way of saying that, through education, and mainly for its rulers to preserve their power, the UAE is forcefully secularizing its youth, basically driving them to potential apostasy.
So, is this the regime that certain Muslim scholars — including “the most influential Muslim scholar in the US” (as he’s often described), Hamza Yusuf — willfully embrace?