Hyderabad: After several participants at the Delhi Tablighi Jamaat meeting were tested positive for COVID-19, Islamophobia and hate speech in India has been rampant on social media. The issue has blown up to such a large scale that Middle-east countries including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have taken action against those propagating it, using laws applicable to both nationals and non-nationals.
For instance, Bala Krishna Nakka, a Hyderabad-based accountant working in Dubai, was sacked from his job at Moro-Hub, a data solutions company, on April 11, after he shared an Islamophobic Facebook post. The accountant had shared a cartoon that depicted Muslim people wearing bombs similar to coronavirus, on the social networking site.
Which UAE laws can put you under bars?
In fact, princess Hend Al Qassimi, a member of the royal family of the United Arab Emirates, has come forward citing stringent laws that can put people in jail for propagating hate speech. The UAE executive had tweeted saying, “UAE law applies on nationals and non-nationals in terms of hate speech.”
The UAE’s stringent anti-discrimination law of 2015 prohibits all acts “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.”
Further, the law also prohibits activities “the government deems supportive of political or extremist interpretations of Islam.” To quote, “These include the use of internet or any other electronic means to promote the views the government believes insult religions, promote sectarianism, damage national unity or the reputation of the state, or harm public order and public morals.”
Punishment for such offences include imprisonment and fine from 5,00,000 dirhams to 4 million dirhams (between 10 lakhs to 8 crores in Indian rupees.)
Earlier on April 19, the princess herself had shared screenshots of an Indian man who had posted Islamophobic content. She had replied to the tweet saying that “The ruling family is friends with Indians, but as a royal your rudeness is not welcome. All employees are paid to work, no one comes for free. You make your bread and butter from this land which you scorn and your ridicule will not go unnoticed.”
In a similar incident, on April 9, another Indian Rakesh B. Kitturmath, who worked as a team leader at Emrill Services, Dubai was terminated from his company. Hailing from Karnataka, he had sparked outrage on social media, after he mocked Muslims in response to a Facebook post regarding COVID-19. On April 6, Mitesh Udeshi, who worked as a financial manager in Abu-Dhabi based firm was fired for posting a cartoon mocking Islam on his Facebook wall.
What is Islamophobia?
The Cambridge dictionary defines it as unreasonable dislike or fear of, and prejudice against, Muslims or Islam. “It often leads to social and political discrimination and can be used to rationalize policies such as mass surveillance, incarceration, disenfranchisement, and military attacks,” according to Bridge, a Georgetown University initiative.