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Somali expelled from Quran competition in UAE

The United Arab Emirates have expelled a Somali national who was taking part in an annual Quranic competition. Ismail Madar, who was representing Somalia, told journalists in the Gulf state on Tuesday that authorities told him his participation had ended in the recitation contest that began last week.


Arab news site Middle East Eye bemoans that a competition held during Ramadan for Muslims who have memorised the Quran should be thought above politics. "Apparently not," concludes the site.

Emirati authorities Monday expelled a Somali who was taking part in the annual competition, which takes place in Dubai, after Somalia refused to break ties with Qatar in the ongoing Gulf dispute, reports MEE.

The Dubai International Holy Quran Award is given annually and is sponsored by Dubai’s government. The prize for first, second, and third place, respectively, is AED 250,000 ($68,000), AED 200,000 ($54,000) and AED 150,000 ($40,800).

Ismail Madar, considered a favourite to win, was told he couldn’t continue to compete as a representative for Somalia. Madar said he was expecting to come first or second in the competition, saying that “unfortunately they punished me”. He was allegedly given 10 minutes to leave the premises of the competition.

With a security escort, Madar was taken to the airport and deported back to Somalia.

Speaking to local media, Madar said that he felt that the decision was a result of Somalia’s position on the Gulf crisis, with tensions between Qatar and its neighbouring states remaining high.

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Ismail Madar,

The incident came after the UAE recalled its ambassador to Mogadishu to protest Somalia’s neutrality in the Gulf crisis.

Somalia has urged both sides to seek dialogue to resolve the dispute.

The United Arab Emirates has taken a lead in the economic blockade of Qatar, alongside Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, for its alleged support of militant groups. Qatar denies the claims.

“Since Somalia declared its position to not side with Saudi and the UAE against Qatar, there was suspicion against Somalis,” Madar told local media.

“When the media reported the Qatari delegation visited Mogadishu, UAE officials told us to leave the competition,” said the singer.

People expressed outrage at the decision on social media.

A Gulf minister allegedly attempted to bribe Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi "Farmaajo" Mohamed, with $80m to join the boycott of Qatar, and to aid the facilitation of the blockade against them, according to the New Arab.

The former editor in chief of Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq, Jaber al-Harmi, told the New Arab: “The minister had even gone to the extent of trying to pressure Farmaajo through the help of another African country."

Mugiejor A

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