Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - 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".
Beirut (AsiaNews) – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has adopted a new law that bans “all forms of discrimination based on religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin,” Fr. Samir Khalil Samir told AsiaNews. This is a “step forward,” according to the Egyptian Jesuit, one that runs counter to what other countries do in the region, many of which are still under the thumb of Islamic totalitarianism.
The UAE’s openness compared to other Muslim nations is further evinced by the presence of 24 churches on its territory, partially built with funds provided by local rulers. As a local bishop once said, “The UAE is the only country where Christians are well treated”. It is no accident that many Christians who live in Saudi Arabia travel to Abu Dhabi for Christmas and Easter celebrations (pictured below).
Christians routinely face intense persecution throughout the Middle East and on the African continent from extremist Islamic groups. Journalists would do well to acquaint themselves with and report the experiences of Christians living in countries, for starters, that do very little to protect non-muslim citizens from violence: the burning of Coptic churches, homes and businesses; acid thrown in the faces of women; the rape of nuns and children; etc. Religious blasphemy laws in Pakistan, for example, are routinely used to falsely accuse Christians and deny Christians a right to due process.
Freedom is exercised in relationships between human beings. Every human person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being. All owe to each other this duty of respect. The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person. This right must be recognized and protected by civil authority within the limits of the common good and public order.—CCC 1738