In the wake of growing insurgency in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates enacted an anti-discriminatory law making hate speech a legal offence and imposing a jail term up to 10 years and a fine of between 50,000 dirhams to to two million dirhams.
The law covers speech and anything written in books, pamphlets via online media and also includes provisions for punishing anyone for terming other religious groups or individuals as infidels, or unbelievers, according to state news agency Wam.
A local newspaper reported that the law intends to provide a “sound foundation for the environment of tolerance, broad mindedness and acceptance in UAE and aims to safeguard people regardless of their origin, beliefs or race, against acts that promote religious hate and intolerance”.
Violation of the law entails penalties such as jail terms ranging from six months to more than 10 years and fines from Dh50, 000 to two million dirhams.
The law prohibits any act that would be considered as insulting God, his prophets or apostles or holy books or houses or worship or graveyards. It also has provisions to fight discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of religion, caste, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin. The law condemns actions that would comprise hate speech or the promotion of discrimination or violence against others using any form of media.
“Strict action will be taken against any form of expressions of hatred or incitement to hate crimes spread in the form of speech and published media,” Wam reported. “The law also criminalizes any act that amounts to abuse of religion or vandalism of religious rituals, holy sites or symbols, and takes a serious view of violence on the basis of religious doctrines.”
“The law prohibits any entity or group established specifically to provoke religious hatred and recommends stringent punishments for groups or supported of any organisations or individuals that are associated with hate crimes.”
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