UAE’s new anti-hate law – a step forward?

Gulf News reports that the United Arab Emirates has issued a new law against any form of discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin following a Decree by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

It notes that “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.”

On the one hand the law includes provisions for punishing anyone for terming other religious groups or individuals as infidels, or unbelievers Рbut it also criminalises any acts which insult religion through any form of expression, be it speech or the written word, books, pamphlets or via online media.

The new law No 02 of 2015:

  1. Criminalises any acts that stoke religious hatred
  2. Criminalises any act that insults religion through any form of expression, be it speech or the written word, books, pamphlets or online
  3. Punishes anyone for terming other religious groups or individuals as infidels, or unbelievers
  4. Provides a sound foundation for the environment of tolerance, broad-mindedness and acceptance in the UAE
  5. Aims to safeguard people regardless of their origin, beliefs or race, against acts that promote religious hate and intolerance
  6. Includes jail terms of six months to more than 10 years for those who break the law
  7. Includes fines of between Dh50,000 and Dh2 million for those who break the law
  8. Prohibits any act that would be considered as insulting God, His prophets or apostles or holy books or houses of worship or graveyards
  9. Makes it illegal to discriminate against individuals or groups on the basis of religion, caste, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin
  10. Prohibits any entity or group established specifically to provoke religious hatred
  11. Recommends stringent punishments for groups or supporters of any organisations or individuals that are associated with hate crimes
  12. 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
  13. Makes it illegal to receive financial support to fund activities that propagate hate
  14. Encourages anyone involved in any activity that violates the law to voluntarily submit themselves before the authorities
  15. Allows courts to waive penalties where people voluntarily submit themselves to authorities
  16. Dovetails with other existing laws to protect specially privileged groups such as women, children and individuals with disabilities or others

Many Middle East news media have welcomed the new law More