Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The United Arab Emirates on Monday announced new legislation imposing harsh sentences including the death penalty for crimes related to religious hatred.
A presidential decree by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, distributed by the official WAM news agency, criminalises any act that stirs religious hatred and also prohibits discrimination "on the basis of religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin".
The new law criminalises any acts that stoke religious hatred and/or which insult religion through any form of expression, be it speech or the written word, books, pamphlets or via online media. The law also includes provisions for punishing anyone for terming other religious groups or individuals as infidels, or unbelievers.
The law prohibits any entity or group established specifically to provoke religious hatred and recommends stringent punishments for groups or supporters of any organisations or individuals that are associated with hate crimes. It also bars 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. Receiving financial support for such activities is also punishable under the new law.
Offenders risk up to 10 years in prison or the death penalty if convicted of "takfirism" or Sunni Muslim extremism. Proponents of such ideology adopted by Al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups describe as infidels non-Muslims as well as Muslims who do not share their beliefs.