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UAE issues law criminalising the defamation of religions

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyabn has issued a law criminalising acts associated with the contempt of religious and holy sites, religious discrimination and hate speech.

The new law criminalises discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of religion, creed, doctrine, denomination, sect, race, colour or ethnicity.

The law, which was issued on Monday, fights the practice of mis-using Islamic doctrine to justify the classification of other individuals and groups as infidels. "Takfiris", those who label others as infidels, may face the death penalty if crimes of murder are committed based on their incitement to kill those they label as infidels.

The law imposes penalties on associations and events calling for the contempt of religion, discrimination or provoking hate speech. The law also criminalises financial support for the acts banned by virtue of the law's provisions.

Penalties include jail terms and fines that could reach one million Dirham (around $272,000).

The Emirates News Agency, WAM, said that: "The Anti-Discriminatory Law prohibits any act that would be considered as insulting God, his prophets or apostles or holy books or houses of 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 also condemns any actions that would comprise hate speech or the promotion of discrimination or violence using any form of media, including online, print, radio or visual media," WAM added.

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