3.5 C
London
Saturday, December 5, 2020

UAE announces relaxing of Islamic laws for personal freedoms

(Dubai: Image courtesy of KARIM SAHIB / AFP / Getty Images)

By ISABEL DEBRE.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates announced on Saturday a major overhaul of the country’s Islamic personal laws, allowing unmarried couples to cohabitate, loosening alcohol restrictions and criminalizing so-called “honor killings.”

The broadening of personal freedoms reflects the changing profile of a country that has sought to bill itself as a skyscraper-studded destination for Western tourists, fortune-seekers and businesses despite its legal system based on a hard-line interpretation of Islamic law. The changes also reflect the efforts of the Emirates’ rulers to keep pace with a rapidly changing society at home.

The announcement also follows a historic U.S.-brokered deal to normalize relations between the UAE and Israel, which is expected to bring an influx of Israeli tourists and investment.

Changes include scrapping penalties for alcohol consumption, sales and possession for those 21 and over. The legal reforms were announced on state-run WAM news agency and detailed in state-linked newspaper The National.

Previously, individuals needed a liquor license to purchase, transport or have alcohol in their homes. The new rule would apparently allow Muslims who have been barred from obtaining licenses to drink alcoholic beverages freely.

Another amendment allows for “cohabitation of unmarried couples,” which has long been a crime in the UAE. Authorities, especially in the more free-wheeling financial hub of Dubai, tend to look the other way when it comes to foreigners, but the threat of punishment still lingered for such behavior.

The government also decided to get rid of laws protecting “honor crimes,” a widely criticized tribal custom in which a male relative may evade prosecution for assaulting a woman seen as dishonoring a family. The punishment for a crime committed to eradicate a woman’s “shame,” for promiscuity or disobeying religious and cultural strictures, will now be the same for any other kind of assault.

In a country where expatriates outnumber citizens nearly nine to one, the amendments will permit foreigners to avoid Islamic Shariah courts on issues like marriage, divorce and inheritance.

The reforms come as the UAE gets ready to host the high-stakes World Expo. The event is planned to bring a flurry of commercial activity and some 25 million visitors to the country, after it was pushed back a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

AP

Archive

Latest news

CPPR submits an urgent appeal on the situation of prisons in Sri Lanka to UN Special Rapporteurs.

Image: A  leaked photo of killings at the  Maraha prison. In a submission to Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment...

Rajapaksa Govt should have banned Tamil National Alliance after the war says Sri Lankan Minister for Public Security

Minister of Public Security, Rear Admiral (retired) Sarath Weerasekara says that Mahinda Rajapaksa Government should have banned the largest Tamil political party, the Tamil...

Sri Lanka: Mahara prison killings must be properly investigated and urgent measures taken to protect detainees from COVID-19 – ICJ

The ICJ today ( 2 Dec 2020) called upon the Sri Lankan authorities to conduct a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the events...

Sri Lanka: Tamil journalist arrested for social media posts

A Tamil journalist locally known as Gokulan, affiliated with Battinews.com was arrested by the Sri Lankan Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) on November 29 for posting pictures on his...

Related news

CPPR submits an urgent appeal on the situation of prisons in Sri Lanka to UN Special Rapporteurs.

Image: A  leaked photo of killings at the  Maraha prison. In a submission to Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment...

Rajapaksa Govt should have banned Tamil National Alliance after the war says Sri Lankan Minister for Public Security

Minister of Public Security, Rear Admiral (retired) Sarath Weerasekara says that Mahinda Rajapaksa Government should have banned the largest Tamil political party, the Tamil...

Sri Lanka: Mahara prison killings must be properly investigated and urgent measures taken to protect detainees from COVID-19 – ICJ

The ICJ today ( 2 Dec 2020) called upon the Sri Lankan authorities to conduct a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the events...

Sri Lanka: Tamil journalist arrested for social media posts

A Tamil journalist locally known as Gokulan, affiliated with Battinews.com was arrested by the Sri Lankan Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) on November 29 for posting pictures on his...