UAE law makes hatred a crime

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UAE law makes hatred a crime
The law applies to any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic origin, religion or caste.

Dubai - Discrimination against any resident will invite fines ranging from Dh50,000 to Dh2 million, offenders to be jailed for six months to 10 years.

By Team KT

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Published: Tue 21 Jul 2015, 6:11 PM

Last updated: Wed 22 Jul 2015, 2:55 AM

Spreading hate will now be deemed a crime and discrimination against any resident will invite fines ranging from Dh50,000 to Dh2 million. Offenders will also be sent to jail for six months to 10 years under a new decree issued by the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The law, No 02 of 2015, applies to any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic origin, religion or caste. It also criminalises any act that incites religious hatred or insults religion, either verbally or in print or online. Any person who calls others 'infidels' or unbelievers can be punished under the law.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said on his official Facebook and Twitter accounts: "The new law guarantees freedom of individuals against religious intolerance and hate crimes and underpins the UAE's policy of inclusiveness.
Insults against God, as well as his prophets, apostles, or religious texts or establishments is also against the law.
Furthermore, it bars any event or conference that might encourage discrimination of any kind, and makes it illegal to receive financial support for such activities.
UAE stands for peace
Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development (MICAD) and Head of the UAE Committee for the Coordination of Humanitarian Foreign Aid, said the UAE stands for peace and has a culture of non-discrimination based on race, colour or religion.
The country promotes co-existence, security, safety and respect among peoples.
"Today, while we see a phenomenon wherein many societies are marred by division, conflicts, fighting and destruction of homelands due to the outbreak of racial or religious discrimination.
"The UAE has taken measures and decisions which safeguard against all negative factors that can lead to in-fighting and discrimination.
"We feel proud that more than 200 nationalities that embrace many religions live together in peace and harmony in the UAE. Thanks to the country's prudent leadership, it has become a safe shelter and among the best place to live," Shaikha Lubna said.
hatred a crime
Abu Dhabi Attorney-General Ali Mohammed Al Balushi stressed that the new law will thwart any attempt to sow seeds of division in the country's cohesive and diverse society.
In a statement, he noted that the new anti-discrimination law was issued to protect all the components of the fabric of society and safeguard their privacy within a framework of respect that is in line with the International Human Rights Law, and more importantly, with the Arab Civilisation and the Islamic Civilisation.
Al Balushi noted that the punishments according to the law are in line with the spirit of Islamic culture embraced by the county's society which rejects hatred and discrimination.
The law is intended to provide a sound foundation for the environment of tolerance, broad­ mindedness and acceptance in the UAE and aims to safeguard people, regardless of their origin, beliefs or race, against acts that promote religious hate and intolerance.
Zayed Al Shamsi, Chairman of the Emirates Lawyers and Jurists Association, said the law has been issued for seeking justice and consolidation among members of the society.
He added that an earlier law stipulated that scorning religions is a punishable misdemeanour that invited a jail term of one month, but the new law makes it a crime and toughens punishment.
"The law punishes the juridical person (entity like firm or corporate) and mentions that explicitly. Anyone who represents the company shall shoulder legal responsibility in case there is a sectarian or racial slur in his comment."
Al Shamsi said there are complementary punishments which feature dissolving the company, organisation or the association, and confiscates all its assets and properties.
"The law empowers the judge the authority of absolving the defendant of the penalty in case he cooperates, and this encourages defendants to confess."
On whether the use of the law is wrong when accusing the person of sectarianism, he said there must be concrete and clear evidences, but there is difficulty in some posted tweets and writings which are incomprehensible and gibberish in terms of vernacular, the method and time, but the matter is left to the judicial authority to decide.
"Any person, even if he/she is outside the UAE, will be prosecuted under the purview of the law, as he incites sectarianism, and accordingly commits crimes inside the UAE."
The same law is applicable and enforced in Kuwait, Jordan and 26 countries in the world, he added.

Judge Dr Jamal Al Sumaiti, Director of Dubai Judicial Institute, said the law secures peaceful co-existence among the people in the country with their different religions, sects and ethnicities.
"It is meant for those of criminal attitude of deviant concepts as the UAE in its nature adopts moderate ideas and has already launched a slew of initiatives supporting that trend," he said.
Mohammed Yusuf, Chairman of the UAE Journalists Association, praised the law and said it was issued at the right time, as there are groups which encroach and affront other segments of society.
"Though such maverick groups rarely exist in the UAE, the law has been promulgated to silence and curb such practices, even minor, in social networking websites and TV channels which people watch and browse without realising the components of the society," he noted.
"The law has been enacted before these practices reach the UAE, and the statute will be deterrent to whoever tries to follow those deviants, and thinks he will be able to deviate from the humanitarian trend the country is adopting," he said, adding the law is complementary to the legislations.
"The UAE's leaning to enforce the law is a civilised and an advanced step of a state that realises its responsibility towards its citizens and expatriates living in its land, and looks forward to preserving their rights and dignity," said Mohammed Salem Al Kaabi, Chairman of the Emirates Human Rights Association.
"The law penalises anyone who gives himself the right to incite hatred in society and agitate prejudices, and deters many destructive and extremist thoughts which caused, as we have seen, in many countries, the annihilation of the society and seed grudges in its," he said. "I believe the law has become an imperative need for all countries, especially after the flood of messages posted on the social networking media which incite discrimination and hatred," he added.
"Though the UAE society is far from the phenomenon of inciting hatred among different religions and races, it has become necessary to enact laws and regulations against hatred and incitement to safeguard human rights and preserve the consolidation of the local society," he added.
Such laws, according to him, play a prominent role in supporting the human rights system which the UAE enjoys, and will not serve as a source for restricting freedoms, as the freedom of individuals ends where the freedom of others start, and the best evidence to this is the implementation of advanced countries to these laws and for long time ago.
"The law clearly underlies criminalising whoever attempts to differentiate between people of different religions, beliefs and ethnicities and who may hurt others by spelling out any description", said Jameela Al Hamili, member of the Emirates Human Rights Association.
"It also asserts the government belief in criminalising Takfir and extremism of different kinds, and encourages peaceful co-existence with different religions, thus giving one the freedom of thinking and belief, and explains that each and every person in the society has the freedom to follow the sect and the faith but within the parameters of the law," she said.
Lt Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy President of the Dubai Police and General Security in Dubai and the Dubai Police said the law eliminates criminalisation of acts related to contempt of religion.
Major-General Khamis Mattar Al Mazina, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police said: "The UAE has an excellent record on human rights and has good relations with all countries of the world, based on the foundations of justice, equality and cooperation, mutual respect. The UAE always seeks to help and resolve the problems by peaceful means."
Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, First Deputy Speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC), Member of the Executive Authority of Government of Abu Dhabi, and Director-General of Abu Dhabi Education Council, hailed the decree.
"Religious tolerance is one of the core values endorsed by the UAE since its inception," she said citing that it hosts hundreds of nationalities who live in peace, stability and in an environment of mutual respect.
The Emirates Writers Union said in a statement that the decree aims to consolidate the principles of freedom, tolerance and acceptance of others and respect for the views, ideas, beliefs, values of others, as adopted by the UAE since its inception. The UAE guarantees, protects and defends these principles by the force of law.
It added that the decree demonstrates that the freedoms shall be protected by law as they have become the core duties of the state.


Religious views
The anti-discrimination law that the UAE has introduced will go a long way in protecting peace and harmony in the country, scholars and leaders of different religions have said.
Surender Singh Kandhari, chairman of Guru Nanak Darbar said all are equal and there is God in every human being. "I'm happy that the UAE government is officially sending across this very lovely message to all the people. This will go a long way in protecting peace and harmony."
He said the UAE's model of peaceful coexistence is an example for the world. "Over 200 nationalities living together is a good example of a perfect, harmonious society. Such new moves will help solve global conflicts sparked by religious hatred."
Echoing the same, Parish Priest at St Mary's Catholic Church in Dubai Rev. Fr Lennie Connully appreciated the open-mindedness of the UAE government in enacting the law.
"This is what we all wanted and it has come now here in the UAE. To say that we are tolerant is one thing and to enact a law to implement is something different. The UAE government has done something that the whole world has to do."
"There is a lot of killing and violence in the name of religion across the world. It is high-time the whole world came together in the name of humanity since we are all human beings above all the other differences that we have. Love must rule the world, not hatred. And this law will go a long way in ensuring that."
Prominent Islamic researcher Dr Mohamed Ashmawy said discrimination is one of the most disturbing and destabilising diseases in the modern age. "As affirmed in the holy Quran and Sunnah, no one is superior over another, in terms of colour, religion, language, culture, race, or backgrounds. The only superiority is by righteousness and God-fearing."
Renowned scholar Shaikh Moheb Abdul Ghani said the message of Islam is for the entire human race. "According to Islam, Almighty Allah is the God of the entire world and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a messenger for the whole of mankind. Islam unites the entire human race under one banner without any kind of discrimination."
Legal aspects
Dubai-based attorney Ashish Mehta said the law demonstrates the UAE's continued commitment to the principals of tolerance. "The government of the UAE has always had a policy of not discriminating," he said.
"With this new law, the UAE has demonstrated to the international community their beliefs and enhances the confidence of multi-ethnic communities to establish the UAE as an international centre. People will get a lot more comfort," he added.
Residents speak
Many UAE residents expressed support for the new legislation.
"It's very important," said Khaled Shabaan, a Lebanese expat in Dubai. "Especially now, when there is so much tension and violence based on religion in nearby places, like Iraq or Syria. People are being killed for sectarian and ethnic reasons."
"I think it is very important that we stand up for this new law, and not point fingers at anyone's religion, race, or their nationality," said lifelong Dubai resident Basit Aman. "As human beings, we must be open minded towards others and support them by standing up to those who do not understand the law and are yet being racist."
Pakistani expat and Sharjah resident Azhar Zia ur-Rehman, however, said that he would have liked to see age discrimination included in the law.
"The UAE is unusual in that one does not see aged people," he said. "As the population gets older, this form of discrimination will rise."
Hate crimes UAE
reporters@khaleejtimes.com
(Mustafa Al Zarooni, Amira Agarib, Ahmed Shaaban, Sajila Saseendran & Bernd Debusmann Jr)



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