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Sikhs and Muslims pray together at the Gurunanak Darbar Sikh Temple in Dubai after Iftar on the first day of Ramadan Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Any act that insults the divine entity, any religion, Prophet, messenger, divine book or house of worship will be considered contempt of religion and the offender will be jailed for five years and penalised up to Dh1 million, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department has stated.

Speaking to Gulf News in the capital, Ameena Al Mazrouei, Social Responsibility Specialist at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, said, “We stand against the differentiation of people based on their caste, creed and colour, and the offender will be jailed for five years and penalised up to Dh1 million as per the rules of the country.”

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The members of Christian Community attend the Christmas Mass at St. Mary's Church in Dubai. 24th December 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

“We respect all human beings and ensure they get fair services and justice. Whoever they are, irrespective of their religion, nationality, background or culture, they are treated equally here in the UAE. Everyone gets justice equally,” she said.

As per Federal Law No (2) of 2015 pertaining to Discrimination and Hate, Article (4) penalises the offender with fines ranging from Dh250,000 to Dh1 million and five years jail.

The law pertains to, “Offending any religion or any of its sacred things, disrupting or preventing religious observances or ceremonies by violence, distorting in any way, any of the holy books, destroying or desecrating the sanctity of places of worship, graves, appurtenances or any of their contents.”

Al Mazrouei said the law comes down heavily against anyone who insults a religion, desecrates it or vandalises a house of worship, whether it is a mosque, temple, synagogue, church or gurdwara.

Peaceful coexistence

The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department held an exhibition “Following the Steps of Zayed – Justice and Tolerance”. In an earlier exhibition, the ADJD displayed a series of efforts of the department to spread the message of peaceful coexistence, communal harmony, religious tolerance and respect to all faiths among community members.

She said, “If people are talking on social media sites, they are not allowed to disrespect any religion, faith or God. In case there is a breach, offenders will be charged under contempt of religion laws and will be penalised.”

“We are also focusing on social media because nowadays, many people text messages at will and don’t realise that they may be hurting the feelings or beliefs of some others,” Al Mazrouei said.

People from different backgrounds think they can say anything online and nobody would recognise them. They must understand that they have freedom but it ends if it hurts someone, she added.