x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Islam insult fine upheld in Court of Appeal

British man made remarks during conversation with Pakistani salesman at the Mall of the Emirates.

DUBAI // The Dubai Court of Appeal this morning upheld a Dh5,000 fine against a 40-year-old tourist who insulted Islam during a conversation about the Taliban and called the Prophet Mohammed a terrorist.

AG, a Briton, appeared in the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours last May wearing shorts. He was sent away to change into more suitable clothing before he returned to the court to deny charges of insulting Islam and a Pakistani shop employee.

"I told him he was crazy, but I didn't say any of the other things he claims," AG, who is staying at a hotel in Abu Hail area, said in court. "I spoke with him about the problems between the Pakistani government and Taliban, and when I understood from his responses that he was a supporter of the Taliban, I told him he was crazy because they were terrorists and they kill people and carry out bombings.

"I didn't say anything bad about Muslims and the Prophet."

AG was specifically charged with uttering a public insult, which is punishable by Articles No 9 and 373 of penal code No 3 for 1987.

According to records, AG visited the E-Max shop in Mall of the Emirates on the night of March 3. He met HH, 21, the salesman, greeted him and asked him where he was from.

When HH told him he was from Pakistan, AG responded that Muslims in Pakistan were not normal because they are killing each other and outsiders, records say. HH also testified to investigators that he told AG he was a Muslim and that AG's greeting to him – "namaste" – was Hindi.

"I asked him how I could help him, to end the conversation," HH said, adding that AG continued talking anyway and told him Pakistan would soon meet a bad end.

HH testified that he replied to AG that Muslims were peaceful brothers and helped each other. But AG retorted that he was crazy and that the Prophet Mohammed was not a peaceful man but a terrorist, records show.

"I walked towards him to hit him, but a customer who was present in the shop held me back," HH told investigators.

HH informed mall guards but AG had already left, records show. An Egyptian customer in the shop witnessed the incident, as did HH's Sri Lankan colleague.

On March 11, HH said he saw AG in the mall again and called security as well as police. AG was taken into custody. He denied to police that he had insulted the Prophet Mohammed.

Earlier in May, a new principal at Our Own English High School in Dubai was dismissed for allegedly making an inappropriate comment about the Prophet.

Ainsley Edgar, who had been at the school for three years, was said to have made the offensive remark as he interviewed a candidate for an Islamic Studies teaching position.

Although the incident was resolved as a "misunderstanding" and no charges were filed, he was removed because of the sensitivity of the issue, officials said at the time.

The court of Misdemeanours fined him on June 9.

salamir@thenational.ae