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UAE Introduces New Laws Against Religious Defamation and Extremism

Author: Hassan Elhais
by Hassan Elhais
Posted: Jul 10, 2024
hate speech Introduction:

In a significant legislative move, the UAE has enacted Federal Decree-Law No. 34/2023 on Combating Discrimination, Hatred, and Extremism aimed at addressing discrimination, hatred, and extremism. This comprehensive law introduces penalties for offences that undermine religious harmony and social structure.

Defamation of Religions:

Under Article 4 of Federal Decree-Law No. 34/2023, any act deemed defamation of religion is strictly prohibited. This includes blasphemy, disrespect, insult, or mockery directed towards God, religions, holy rites, holy places, prophets, apostles, or their families. Offenders may face imprisonment for a minimum of one year and fines ranging from AED 250,000 to AED 1,000,000, depending on the severity and means used to commit the offence.

Discrimination:

Article 6 addresses discrimination based on religion, belief, race, colour, ethnic origin, gender, or race. Offenders may be imprisoned for at least one year and fined between AED 500,000 and AED 1,000,000. It aims to protect individuals and groups from unjust treatment or exclusion based on discriminatory grounds.

Hate Speech:

Article 7 targets hate speech that spreads discord or provokes discord among individuals or communities. Offenders using any means of expression or communication channels to provoke hate speech are subject to imprisonment for not less than one year, along with fines ranging from AED 500,000 to AED 1,000,000.

Extremism:

Addressing extremism, Article 18 identifies behaviours or ideologies that threaten public order or provoke religious defamation or discrimination. Individuals demonstrating a serious aspect of extremism may face placement in counselling centres upon court order, with periodic evaluations to assess their rehabilitation.

Penalties for Offenders:
  • Offenses under Articles 5, 6, and 7 may entail imprisonment and substantial fines.
  • Manufacturing or trading materials promoting religious defamation or hate speech carries penalties of imprisonment for a minimum of two years and fines ranging from AED 500,000 to AED 2,000,000 as per Article 11.
  • Joining or supporting extremist organizations may result in imprisonment for up to seven years as outlined in Article 14.
  • Organizing or participating in groups that promote defamation, discrimination, or hate speech may impose imprisonment for up to 10 years.
Special Provisions for Extremism:

Federal Decree-Law No. 34/2023 addresses extremism with comprehensive measures. Article 18 authorizes courts to mandate counselling for individuals showing extremist tendencies, aiming at rehabilitation. Article 19 enables the imposition of travel bans, surveillance, residence restrictions, and other preventative measures to control extremist activities. Additionally, Article 20 establishes extremism lists for monitoring and periodically reviewing individuals and organizations deemed extremist, enhancing national security efforts while promoting societal stability and harmony.

Conclusion:

Federal Decree-Law No. 34/2023 promotes religious tolerance, enhances social harmony and penalises acts of discrimination, hatred, and extremism.

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About the Author

Dr. Hassan Elhais is a legal consultant in Dubai, specializing in the drafting of all statements of claim, memos and consultation on litigation of all manner.

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Author: Hassan Elhais
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Hassan Elhais

Member since: Jul 11, 2016
Published articles: 477

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