x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Jail term for mosque slur engineer replaced by fine

An engineer who insulted Islam by uttering the words 'damn mosques' has his one month suspended jail sentence replaced with a Dh5,000 fine.

ABU DHABI // The punishment for an engineer who insulted Islam by saying "damn mosques" during a work meeting was today downgraded from a one-month suspended jail term to a Dh5,000 fine.

The Appeals Court was considering the case of the Briton JM for the second time after the Court of Cassation ruled its first hearing was invalid due to the lack of a translator.

JM, who worked in the parks and recreation section at Abu Dhabi Municipality, was in charge of project to build gardens around mosques. A colleague reported him after a meeting in which he asked: "When will we be finished with the damn mosques?"

He was sentenced to a month in jail by the Misdemeanour Court. During his first trial at the Appeals Court he said he had not meant the words as an insult. "I said it out of concern for the project because I wanted to be ready as soon as possible," he said.

When he returned to the Appeals Court for a second trial, his lawyer asked the court translator to look up the word 'damn' in the Oxford English Dictionary.

"The first meaning for the word damned says: 'according to Christianity a damned (person) is someone who God is angered with forever," read out the translator. "The second meaning says damn can be used for strong criticism in an unofficial way and is a way of expressing anger."

hdajani@thenational.ae