In a shocking revelation, French journalist Rokhaya Diallo has become a victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Accused of affiliating with the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization according to the UAE, Diallo found herself exposed to violence and harassment as a result of the false allegations. The UAE reportedly hired a private intelligence firm to gather information on numerous individuals and organizations in Europe, leading to detrimental consequences for the targeted victims.
Unveiling the Smear Campaign
Investigations by a French outlet recently uncovered a vast smear campaign
orchestrated by the UAE against over 1,000 people and hundreds of organizations in
Europe. The UAE hired a Geneva-based private intelligence firm, Alp Services, to collect information on individuals from 18 European countries between 2017 and 2020.
False Accusations of Affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood
The smear campaign targeted individuals by falsely linking them to the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization designated as a terrorist group by the UAE. Among those falsely accused was Rokhaya Diallo, a renowned journalist known for her work on women’s rights, Islamophobia, and anti-Black racism in France. The accusation was deeply unfair and baseless, leaving Diallo vulnerable to threats and violence.
Impact on Victims’ Lives
The consequences of the smear campaign have been severe for the targeted individuals. Beyond facing threats and harassment, some have had to leave their home countries, while others suffered financial losses and reputational damage. The false association with the Muslim Brotherhood has raised concerns about their safety and careers.
Mental Health Toll
For Diallo, the false association with the Muslim Brotherhood has taken a toll on her mental health. As one of the few visible Muslim figures in the public sphere, she was deeply concerned that her work advocating for women’s rights and LGBTQ rights might be discredited due to the smear campaign. The harassment and threats she received after being falsely targeted amplified her fears and heightened her vulnerability.
Chilling Effect on Freedom of Expression
The smear campaign has had a chilling effect on journalists and activists who fear being targeted and harassed for their work. Diallo’s experience of having to reconsider her online presence and posts reflects the broader implications for freedom of expression in an increasingly hostile digital environment.
Questioning the Campaign’s Legitimacy
Many targeted individuals have questioned the legitimacy of the smear campaign, raising concerns about the selection process. Some believe that the campaign merely copied a list of individuals previously targeted by far-right groups, further highlighting the campaign’s lack of credibility.
Other Victims of the Campaign
The smear campaign targeted various individuals from different fields, such as Heshmat Khalifa, a member of Islamic Relief Worldwide’s board of trustees, and political scientist Fouad Gandoul. Both were wrongfully accused and faced consequences that impacted their professional lives.
Resilience and Seeking Protection
Despite the distressing situation, Diallo remains committed to her journalistic work. She seeks protection from international organizations supporting journalists at risk and takes various measures to safeguard herself physically and digitally.
The UAE’s smear campaign targeting innocent individuals with false accusations of affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood has had devastating consequences. Journalist Rokhaya Diallo’s story sheds light on the need to protect freedom of expression and the safety of journalists and activists worldwide. Such campaigns can have far-reaching effects, impacting mental health and professional careers. It is crucial for governments, organizations, and individuals to unite in condemning and addressing such attacks on press freedom and individual rights.