ABU DHABI (AFP) - President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan warned Sunday against undermining UAE's security as he promised to widen the decision-making process in the nation where some 60 Islamists have been detained this year. "This country's security is sacred and any attempt to undermine its foundations is a red line," warned Sheikh Khalifa in statements marking the 41st anniversary of the union of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. "We are gradually moving towards expanding popular participation in decision-making, to reach a political system that would reflect reality and suit the nature of the society," said Khalifa in remarks published by local media.

 Last year, Emirati activists signed a petition calling for political reforms, including direct elections and broadening the powers of the toothless UAE legislature, the Federal National Council. Some of the activists were arrested but later released. The UAE, a federation of seven emirates led by oil-rich Abu Dhabi, has not seen any of the widespread protests calling for reform that have swept other Arab countries, including fellow Gulf states Bahrain and Oman. But authorities have stepped up a crackdown on voices of dissent and calls for democratic reforms. Khalifa affirmed his country's "support to the choices of the people" in Arab Spring countries, while "rejecting any intervention in their internal affairs." "We also reject any interference in our security, sovereignty and our internal affairs," he said. On July 15, the UAE announced it had dismantled a group it said was plotting against state security and challenging the constitution of the Gulf state.