Russia and the Middle East
Sun, 24 march 2019Sun
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Dealing with racism: UAE sets example

Arab News has published an article praising UAE's new anti-hate law, saying that the country has set an example in dealing with the racism.  It further says that the law serves to establish a proper relation between members of society and install civil peace.

Written by Abdulrahman Al Rashed, the article says that in the past, there existed good ethical standards for rejecting discrimination and promoting coexistence at a time when no laws regulated relations amongst people and between societies. However, communities have changed, expanded, mixed and become complicated. Ethics are no longer sufficient as a control, and customs have stopped deterring people from harming each other or violating others' rights.

In Lebanon, a group has been formed to defend the rights of domestic workers, most of whom are foreigners prevented from socialising with the rest of society. In Egypt, the citizens of Upper Egypt have complained about the media and cinema making fun of them. The situation is more dangerous in the Gulf, with provocation amounting to incitement and blasphemy, and reaching the level of government officials inciting to kill.

The article further states, that modern societies in the world are seeking to develop laws promoting social peace and making the state a home for all. They are developing laws that ensure the protection of the weakest groups. There is no country in the world that has not undergone this difficult transition. Saudi Arabia banned slavery a hundred years after the US banned it in 1866. All societies change; the old and the modern need to develop their regimes to deal with the changes.

Politics has tarnished social relations in the Arab world. When the relationship with the state gets tarnished, hostility is reflected in the same direction, and when it is fixed, the brotherly and friendly language between the state and society is reinstalled. In our society that is crowded with foreigners, when a foreigner kills a local, the language of the media and social networks degenerates, blaming the whole community of the perpetrator, and then it starts to spread hatred, said the Arab News article.

The problem is not only experienced by foreigners; it is a sectarian problem too between Sunni and Shiites, and an ethnic one against the Bedouins. It is a regional problem as well, working against people of certain regions; and disrespecting them has become a cause of discrimination against them. These contemporary diseases persist and spread due to lack of explicit regulations defining responsibilities and establishing guidelines.

"Shiites and Sunnis have been living in the same area for a thousand years. In order to remain living together, the modern state has to enact regulations and laws that grant them equal rights and punish those who violate that right," read the article.

The United Arab Emirates recently introduced the first comprehensive law dealing with racism, hatred and incitement; and this law deserves to be read in detail. The law "criminalises acts associated with the contempt of religious and holy sites, religious discrimination and hate speech using any form of media."

The most severe penalties are against government officials, who face jail terms of 10 years and fines of Dh 500,000 (US$136,127) if they commit during work hours. Those who exploit religion and accuse others of blasphemy will be imprisoned. Penalties might reach the death penalty in cases of murder.

The author says that purpose of this law is not the mere application of sanctions. Rather, it serves to establish a proper relation between members of society and install civil peace. The protection of societies and their rights is not a matter left to the wishes of the people. It cannot be the subject of a referendum. Even in democracies, the opinion of the majority regarding this issue does not matter.

However, the article says, it should be expressly stated in a constitution, and the international community should hold accountable any government that does not adhere to these values. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -