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ICC Note: This Monday, the United Arab Emirates announced a new law that makes it a criminal act to stir hatred and discrimination on the basis of race, religion, caste, creed, doctrine or ethnicity. Punishment can be as harsh as 10 years in prison or even the death penalty. Funding groups associated with stirring religious intolerance is also to be considered a crime. These types of laws are often used to convict Christians or other minorities of blasphemy for holding beliefs that conflict with the majority viewpoint. While it may be an important step in confronting extremism, its abuse can severely hinder basic religious expression.

07-22-2015 United Arab Emirates (Asia News): 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

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