A new law criminalizing a variety of form of discrimination has been introduced in the United Arab Emirates.
Following a Decree issued by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the new law punishes any form of discrimination based on religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin. It can be in the form of insults expressed through speech, written words or online media. The new law also includes provisions that punishes those who label individuals or groups as infidels or unbelievers.
The law aims to stimulate an environment of tolerance, broadmindedness and acceptance in the UAE society where people are safeguarded against various forms of discrimination.
Those who are found guilty of defined offenses may face jail terms ranging from six months to over 10 years and fines from AED50,000 to AED2 million.
The law also criminalizes any act that constitute abuse of religion such as vandalism of religious symbols, objects and rituals and takes a serious view of violence in the name of religious doctrines. The law disallows establishment of any entity or group that provoke religious hatred, and recommends harsh punishment for supporters of such organizations associated with hate crimes. Conferences and meetings formed to sow the seeds of discord or hatred towards individuals or groups on the basis of faith or race is also prohibited.
Receiving financial support for such activities is also punishable under the new law.
The new law does not contradict with any other existing laws meant to protect specially privileged groups in the society such as women, children and individuals with disabilities or others.
Main provisions of the law
- Criminalizes any acts that stoke religious hatred
- Criminalizes any act that insults religion through any form of expression, be it speech or the written word, books, pamphlets or online
- Punishes anyone for terming other religious groups or individuals as infidels, or unbelievers
- Provides a sound foundation for the environment of tolerance, broad-mindedness and acceptance in the UAE
- Aims to safeguard people regardless of their origin, beliefs or race, against acts that promote religious hate and intolerance
- Includes jail terms of six months to more than 10 years for those who break the law
- Includes fines of between AED50,000 and AED2 million for those who break the law
- Prohibits any act that would be considered as insulting God, His prophets or apostles or holy books or houses of worship or graveyards
- Makes it illegal to discriminate against individuals or groups on the basis of religion, caste, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin
- Prohibits any entity or group established specifically to provoke religious hatred
- Recommends stringent punishments for groups or supporters of any organisations or individuals that are associated with hate crimes
- Prohibits any kind of events such as conferences and meetings within the UAE organised with the sole purpose of sowing seeds of discrimination, discord or hatred against individuals or groups on the basis of faith, origin or race
- Makes it illegal to receive financial support to fund activities that propagate hate
- Encourages anyone involved in any activity that violates the law to voluntarily submit themselves before the authorities
- Allows courts to waive penalties where people voluntarily submit themselves to authorities
- Dovetails with other existing laws to protect specially privileged groups such as women, children and individuals with disabilities or others
Source: Gulf News