hate speech
Picture for illustrative purposes: online abuse Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: You take an appalling risk every time you post something on social media that could hurt religious sentiments or show prejudice against an individual or the community.

But if you have the nerve to violate the UAE’s Anti-Discriminatory Law, then you ought to also have the nerve to bear the dreadful consequences.

The UAE Federal Public Prosecution has warned that anyone found guilty of racial discrimination or expression of hate will be fined upto Dh1 million or jailed for a minimum of five years.

The Public Prosecution has posted a video on its Twitter page cautioning people about the fallout of breaking the law.

The warnings come close on the heels of rising instances of vile, Islamophobic social media posts in the UAE. In the past few weeks alone, at least eight UAE residents have been suspended, fired from their job or referred to police for their offensive social media posts. These include three Indian expats who faced action over the weekend after their posts were brought to the attention of their employers.

Last month, the Public Prosecution ordered the arrest and provisional detention of an Emirati media personality for making racist comments. A video made by him and circulated online, created divisions based on ethnicity and nationality among the various communities that live in the UAE.

The UAE’s anti-discriminatory law is unsparing. According to Article 6 of the Federal Decree Law No. 2 of 2015 on Combating Discrimination and Hatred, “Any person, who commits any act of discrimination of any form by any means of expression or by any other means, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a period not less than five years, and by a fine not less than Dh 500,000 and not exceeding Dh1 million or either one of these two penalties.”

The UAE law outlaws any act 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.

It also criminalises any act that amounts to abuse of religion or vandalism of religious rituals, holy sites or symbols, and takes a serious view of violence on the basis of religious doctrines.