A Habib Al Mulla supporter raises his objections. And he's recording everything.
Baker McKenzie has said it will "continue investing in and developing" its business in the UAE after splitting from its top lawyer in the region over his anti-gay tweets.
Dr Habib Al Mulla was the firm's most senior partner in the Gulf, where he leads Habib Al Mulla & Partners. The tie-up between the two firms via a Swiss verein structure gave Bakers the unique advantage of access to the local courts.
A spokesperson for Baker McKenzie said it was now establishing an interim management team in Dubai as it negotiated the break-up from Habib Al Mulla and his firm, and looking for a new office.
"Baker McKenzie is proud of our rich and longstanding history in the Gulf region, dating back over 40 years, and we are now establishing an interim management team in the UAE to take the business forward", said the spokesperson.
"We will continue investing in and developing our business in the UAE, building on recent hires in areas including M&A, employment, data privacy and tax. In addition, we have been discussing the relocation of our Dubai office for some time, likely to the Dubai International Financial Centre, where many of our clients have their operations".
"We remain firmly committed to our clients and people in the UAE and wider Gulf region."
The rift between Bakers and its most senior lawyer in the UAE occurred when RollOnFriday uncovered tweets in which Al Mulla posted to his 61,000 followers that the "problem with homosexuality in the West is not only in the ugliness of the act", but that by committing "his evil act" a gay person "is disobeying the Creator". He went on to include homosexuality alongside drugs, "pedophilia and atheism" in a list of problems exported by the West.
Baker McKenzie, which states on its website that it is "proud to be known as an LGBT+ inclusive workplace", decided to sever ties with Al Mulla. His ejection generated an impassioned online response from supporters, many of whom declared that they were proud of the lawyer for his stance. Some went so far as to call for a boycott of Bakers.
Several of Al Mulla's defenders elaborated on their objection to homosexuality, tying it to their religious faith. A typical response opined that "homosexuality is a setback for human instinct, and a dangerous deviation from the laws of God almighty". Others were even more overt.
After the story broke, Al Mulla tweeted, "The news of Baker's separation is true and we will operate as an independent office and we will continue to serve our customers as we always have. I remain silent and will not comment on what happened out of respect for the relationship that was between us".
However, he later followed up with a series of tweets stating, “I would like to thank all the brothers and sisters who have expressed their support for me in my stance on the issue of the video and homosexuality".
"My personal opinions, which I shared, represent my beliefs and convictions that stem from my religion and core values. I’m very proud of it and will not apologise over my comments. Although we are a tolerant society and welcome individuals who think differently than we do, we reject any ideas or beliefs that are imposed on us or that go against our Islamic ideals".
He also posted on Twitter in support of people who referred to Bakers as "losers" who gave in to "leftist woke extremists".
Al Mulla did not respond to a request for comment.