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Historian wins second acquittal in hate crime case

Suspect cleared of hate crime and inciting discord in written petition addressed to religious body

Gulf News

Dubai: Prosecutors lost their appeal against a historian, who was cleared of breaching the UAE hate law and committing a hate crime in a 25-page petition that he addressed to a religious endowment body in Dubai.

The Emirati historian was alleged to have addressed the religious body in a 25-page petition written in May 2016 that purportedly contained terms and phrases that are deemed a breach of the hate law.

Then he circulated the petition on social media networks, according to records, before a lawyer saw its content and lodged a criminal complaint before the Dubai Public Prosecution.

In May, the Dubai Court of First Instance acquitted the Emirati of committing a hate crime and inciting discord due to lack of corroborated evidence. Prosecutors appealed the primary judgement and asked the Appeals Court to overturn the historian’s acquittal and punish him.

When he showed up in court, the Emirati man pleaded innocent and asked the court to reject the prosecutor’s appeal.

The presiding judge dismissed the appeal and confirmed the historian’s acquittal.

According to the case, the suspect incited segregation in the 25-page handwritten petition that he addressed to the religious endowment body.

Meanwhile, the complaining lawyer [who represents the body] testified that the Emirati published the petition on social media.

“He signed the petition, through which he incited a certain sect to form an opposing party against the religious endowment body. He also tackled, in the petition, issues about political and sectarian strife in the region and described the members of that sect as being ‘oppressed’,” the complainant told the interrogating prosecutor.

The historian was quoted as telling prosecutors that he sent a three-page letter to the body’s president suggesting to him to organise a Ramadan festival and bring people together.

The Emirati was further cited as claiming to prosecutors that the body’s president met him in a wedding banquet a few days later and threatened that he would get the historian stripped of his nationality and have him detained and deported.

He argued before prosecutors that he wrote the 25-page petition thereafter in which he asked the religious endowment body’s president to hold [as per the Rulers’ directives] an open day with the members of that sect to hear their suggestions but that never happened.

In court, the historian maintained that he did not have any criminal intention.

The appellate ruling remains subject to appeal before the Cassation Court within 23 days.