By Arab News
Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council discussed a new law which penalizes racial discrimination, tribal sloganeering and ridiculing any of the religions in the Kingdom.
The law that also prevents hatemongering was proposed by several members of the Shoura Council including Abdullah Al-Fifi, Latifa Al-Shalan and Haya Al-Manea.
Once passed, the law would criminalize attack on places of worship, prevent undermining historical icons that have cultural relevance and protect the social fabric.
It would also punish discrimination in society with regard to rights and duties as well as discrimination for ethnic, racial, regional, religious, communal, ideological or political reasons.
Hamad Al-Qadhi, ex-member, said: “This law has come after the social media started fomenting sectarianism. The law is based on the teachings of Islam. Those who don’t adhere to the teachings of Qur’an will be deterred by this law.
“The law against racial discrimination promotes interconnectivity and equality especially in the backdrop of rising discrimination, name-calling and the spread of hatred and division on the social media.”
Samoud, Abdurrahman Al-Qarrash, founder of the National Program Against Terrorism, said: “Sectarianism is all about people who consider themselves superior to others. It is found in weak hearts that feel they reached the level of angels, above human beings, without understanding that this was the reason Satan was cursed. “All those who feel superior in lineage, wealth, status or affiliation, are with Satan.”
Al-Qarrash said: “Sectarianism is a social cancer that destroys what the Prophet of Allah, peace be upon him, called for. It isolates people from others, makes them look at others as inferior, without any regard for their religion, morals and knowledge”.
Al-Qarrash said that sectarianism has a negative impact on social life; it encourages ignorance and social divide, supports oppression and violation of rights, spreads hatred among people, contributes to creating animosity, promotes crimes, calls for division prohibited by Islam, encourages unemployment and spinsterhood.
The cure, he said, is prevention, even if it is difficult.
“Perhaps Allah will guide those who have deviated towards righteousness. Because sectarianism is the worst kind of extremism, which is not supported by the religion. Instead, religion has come to fight against it.” Successful countries build social unity by declaring sectarianism, discrimination and hatemongering a crime.
Article 12 of the law says that those who raise tribal slogans will be fined no less than SR 50,000 or will be jailed for at least six months, or both.
Article 16 says that those who support the publication, recording, filming, taping, computer programs, applications or data in electronic format of any such material that ridicule religion, discriminates or foments hatred will face at least one year in jail and a fine of a minimum SR 50,000 and a maximum of SR 200,000.