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Emirati boss caged migrant workers 'until they supported the UAE football team' Open in fullscreen

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Emirati boss caged migrant workers 'until they supported the UAE football team'

The Emirati man is seated outside a bird cage containing migrant workers inside [Twitter]

Date of publication: 11 January, 2019

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An Emirati man put migrant workers in a bird cage and demanded that they declare support for the UAE national football team, an online video showed.
An Emirati man put migrant workers in a bird cage and demanded that they declare support for the UAE national football team in order to be released, a one-minute-long video that circulated online this week showed. 

The UAE national, dressed in traditional Gulf clothing and holding a stick in hand, is seen seated outside large bird cage which contain eight Asian male workers barred inside.

The man announced that his country's national team will be playing against India, an apparent reference to a 2019 Asian Cup fixture between the two countries on Thursday.

The man then asked the caged workers "Which team are you supporting?" The Asian men respond: "India!"

The workers were then told by the man that their response was not good enough, as they were living in the UAE and must support its national team.

When asked for a second time, the caged men reply by proclaiming their support to the UAE, afterwhich they are freed from the cage.

The circulation of the video on social media prompted calls for the man's arrest.

"Even if he was joking, and it is obvious that he is, this is a tasteless joke. It belittles human rights and encourages ill treatment and superiority. I hope the joke turns on him and he gets prosecuted," an Arabic user posted on Twitter.

"[The man] said it was a joke, but this is NOT funny. Such treatment is facilitated by the abusive kafala system which entrenches discriminatory attitudes. This should STOP!" another user tweeted.

The Middle East's Gulf region has an estimated 2.4 million migrant domestic workers, the majority from Asia and Africa. They fall under the kafala (visa sponsorship) system, forbidding them to leave or change employers without their initial employer's consent.

If they do, they can be arrested and punished for "absconding" with fines, detention and deportation.

The isolating and harsh working conditions often, though not always, lead to workers being treated as property of their employers - leaving the worker vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

Rape victims in the Gulf region can also face charges of zina - sexual relations outside of marriage - once they report the crime.

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