The UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan recently issued the Anti-Discriminatory Law No. 02 of 2015 that solely aims to protect its people regardless of their origin, belief, religion, class, race or ethnicity against the commission of acts that promote and spread religious hatred and its intolerance and discrimination in any form; and to safeguard the community at large by providing a sound foundation for the environment of tolerance, broad-mindedness and acceptance in the UAE.
The law, which will be enforced a month after it is published in the official gazette, comes at a time when racism, hatred and intolerance of foreigners is growing at an alarming rate particularly in the Middle East, and the world over. The UAE anti-hate law has come at the right time and shall have far-reaching effects in terms of its consistent efforts in establishing mile stones in human rights propagation and envisaging peace and unity for the international community at large. As a nation, UAE boasts of people from over 200 diverse nationalities peacefully co-existing and practicing different religions and beliefs. The anti- discrimination law seeks to protect the country and its divergent people.
The following are the salient features of the law that seeks to:
- Criminalize any act that stokes religious hatred and enforces strict action against any form of expressions of hatred or incitement to hate crimes.
- Criminalize 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.
- Forbid any act that insults religion through any form of expression, be it speech or the written word, books, pamphlets or online print, radio or visual media.
- Prohibit terming other religious groups or individuals as ‘infidels’ or “unbelievers”.
- Safeguard people regardless of their origin, beliefs or race, against acts that promote religious hate and intolerance.
- Condemn any act that would be considered as insulting God, His prophets or apostles or holy books or houses of worship or graveyards.
- Illegalize discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of religion, caste, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin.
- Prohibit any entity or group established specifically to provoke religious hatred.
- Recommend stringent punishments for groups or supporters of any organizations or individuals that are associated with hate crimes.
- Ban any kind of events such as conferences and meetings within the UAE organized with the sole purpose of sowing seeds of discrimination, discord or hatred against individuals or groups on the basis of faith, origin or race.
- Punish anyone receiving financial support to fund activities that propagate hate.
- Encourage anyone involved in any activity that violates the law to voluntarily submit themselves before the authorities.
- Impose fines from AED 50,000/- to AED 2 million or jail terms of 6 months to more than 10 years for those who break the law.
- Allow courts to waive penalties where people voluntarily submit themselves to the authorities.
The UAE have yet again displayed its cosmopolitan character and have given out its message, loud and clear, in no uncertain terms, that it is a peace loving country and intend to remain so, and that this legislation comes in that context. It has let out to the entire world that the solid social fabric which helped built the UAE will not be allowed to be destroyed by any form of extremism or terrorism that results in inciting racial discrimination and hatred amongst its people either through violence, voice, or cyber-bullying and posts in the print media and on social networking sites, and its adamant and unforgiving stance in its determination to enforce the law to combat any such anti-social activities and its sheer and absolute intolerance of anyone or any entity that propagates and provokes discrimination and hatred in order to protect its country and peace of its people from any sort of verbal or intellectual abuse and violence and further reiterated and warned the anti-social elements to refrain from any sort of anti-social activities or face its dire consequences. The most recent example is of the Arab woman who was executed and sentenced to death in the UAE for killing an American woman out of religious and cultural hatred.
The International Organization for Peace, Care and Relief of the United Nations, as per its annual report of 2014, have ranked the UAE at a top position for being a top country having people of varied nationalities co-exist and live peacefully with an open and broad mind while exhibiting tolerance for all religions, beliefs and cultures.
Hats off to the UAE and to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and congratulations to the country for this firm and bold endeavour!!!