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Arabic press review: UAE asked UK to trade Hedges for activists in London

British officials were reportedly outraged by the Emirati request. In other news, BDS activists in Morocco demand return of Quran from Israel
British PhD student Matthew Hedges in a holiday photo (Daniela Tajeda)

Hedges for Emirati opposition figures?

Emirati officials asked Britain to extradite several opposition figures living in London in exchange for the release of British PhD student Matthew Hedges, news website Arabi21 reports.

Britain, however, rejected the request, forcing Abu Dhabi to release him later in exchange for nothing, a British source, who request anonymity, told the website.

"The UAE was hoping to be able to receive the oppositionists living in Britain in exchange for releasing the British academic," the source said.

The source said that the UAE's request outraged many British officials who told Abu Dhabi that UK laws do not allow for sudden extradition. 

After an Emirati court sentenced Hedges to life imprisonment in November, the British ambassador visited five of the seven emirates - Sharjah, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm al-Quwain and Fujairah - but not Abu Dhabi or Dubai, to send a message to Abu Dhabi that the British position was still powerful in the country.

According to the source, this hastened Hedges' release. 

Bring our Quran back from Israel, say Moroccan activists   

Moroccan activists are calling on the government to retrieve a rare copy of the Quran which is currently on display in Israel, but is owned by Morocco, according to London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

Activists with the Moroccan Observatory Against Normalisation with Israel say they believe the National Library of Israel stole the manuscript, which dates back centuries, and is using it to recreate Israeli history.

"Zionist criminals who stole Jerusalem and Palestine, and stole their effects, archives and treasures in an attempt to falsify history," the observatory wrote on its Facebook page.

The group called on Moroccan authorities to coordinate with Palestinian authorities and file a lawsuit against the library for stealing and then displaying the Quran, and listing it as an official relic held in the library's possession.

Aziz Hannaoui, the observatory's deputy head, said that the Amazigh treasures in occupied Jerusalem were seized by Israel and needed to be rescued in an operation led by the Moroccan state. 

Saudi Arabia puts a cap on Algerian pilgrims for Hajj

Saudi Arabia is refusing to increase the number of Algerian pilgrims allowed into the kingdom for the upcoming Hajj season, Algerian newspaper Al-Khabar reports.

The decision comes after a recent meeting between Algeria's minister of religious affairs and his Saudi counterpart during which Riyadh refused to make any amendments for Algerian pilgrim figures, well-placed sources told Al-Khabar. 

The number of pilgrims from Algeria will be limited to 36,000.

However, the kingdom has reportedly expressed its willingness to discuss ways to assist in overcoming difficulties Algerian pilgrims have faced in Mecca.

* Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.