Persecution of Non-Muslims (United Arab Emirates)

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Note that the persecution of apostates and the persecution of homosexuals are covered in separate pages

Lebanese Christian sentenced to 1 year imprisonment and 39 lashes because he had married a Muslim woman. Forced to divorce her, he is tortured during his stay in prison and converts to Islam prior to being flogged[edit]

A religious court in the United Arab Emirates sentenced a Lebanese Christian to one-year imprisonment and 39 whip lashes because he had married a Muslim woman. This was reported by Amnesty International on 14 November 1996.

30-year-old hotel manager Elie Dib Ghalib was arrested in December 1995, and has been tortured during his stay in prison. He is to remain under arrest until the divorce from his wife, a citizen of the UAE, has been officially processed.

Ghalib married his 25-year-old bride in 1995 in Lebanon. While his wife returned to the United States for her studies, Ghalib himself returned to the UAE. According to Islamic law [Shariah - editor] a Muslim woman may not marry a non-Muslim unless he converts to Islam.

Ghalib converted to Islam on 16 November when the whip lashes were to be administered to him. Ghalib's lawyer announced his step to the press one day later. It is unknown if Ghalib has been released.

Filipino Pastor arrested and jailed for “preaching other than the Muslim religion” because he gave an Arab Muslim a Bible. More than nine months later, he is found guilty and deported[edit]

Following lengthy judicial delays, the United Arab Emirates deported Rev. Fernando P. Alconga back to Manila on July 23, more than nine months after he was arrested in Dubai. “We have a smile on our lips and tears on our cheeks, just to be here,” Alconga told Compass by telephone from Manila today. The Filipino pastor said a representative from the presidential palace and a TV camera crew met him, his wife and son on the tarmac at the Manila airport.

A Filipino pastor living in the UAE since 1994, Alconga was arrested at a Dubai shopping center last November and jailed for “preaching other than the Muslim religion” because he gave an Arab Muslim a Bible. In April, a criminal court found him guilty of the charges, but the presiding judge suspended his one-year prison sentence. After a series of appeals, his deportation order was upheld by the Supreme Court on July 12. Alconga said he believed that his arrest and trial helped unify the Christian community, both in the UAE and internationally. “Since I’ve arrived home, I’ve seen that Filipinos are more aware of the difficulties of Christians in the Middle East,” he said.
UAE formally Deports Filipino Pastor
Compass Direct, August 7, 2003

"This is racism". Scores of non-Muslims seek help from authorities because they are forced to work longer hours during Ramadan[edit]

Scores of non-Muslims have sought help from authorities concerned protesting against what they say is discrimination in terms of reduced work hours during Ramadan.

Many Gulf News readers also voiced complaints that they are made to work longer hours than their Muslim colleagues during Ramadan despite a Ministry of Labour announcement to the contrary. The ministry recently announced that all private and public sector staff are required to work a maximum of six to seven hours daily. Companies are required to reduce regular working hours by at least two hours during Ramadan.

The readers who took up the issue requested that their names not be disclosed as they feared it could have repercussions on their jobs.

One reader sent a copy of a letter from his company's human resource department that called on all non-Muslim senior staff and managers to work the full day from 9am till 5pm — a total of nine hours.

"This is racism," another reader who works for 12 hours every day in another company said. He said his firm, to add insult to injury, is also refusing to pay overtime this year for extra hours put in by employees. A senior ministry official told Gulf News that companies that do not reduce working hours for all their employees by two hours will face stiff penalties.

Labour permits

He said the penalties could include a fine of up to Dh10,000 and a suspension of the firm's eligibility for labour permits for a specified period.

The two-hour reduction in work timings applies to all workers both in the public and the private sector, regardless of their religious belief. The regulation allows those who work for eight hours a day throughout the year to avail of a six-hour work day in Ramadan, while those who work for nine hours should benefit from a seven-hour work day during the Holy Month.

One reader from Abu Dhabi said his company had not only asked staff to work for eight hours but also on Saturdays, which is the weekend off day. He asked where he could make a complaint. The ministry is currently inspecting firms to check compliance both with the Ramadan timings, as well as with the midday break rule that prohibits outdoor work between 12:30 pm and 3 pm till September 15.

The ministry official, however, noted that it was impossible to check on all the 180,000 labour establishments across the UAE. "We are at present focusing on midday break compliance, which is essential to ensure the basic health and rights of workers," he said. According to the official, employers can only legally require employees to put in more than the six or seven hours of work with their consent. "In this case, the extra hours of work cannot exceed four hours on a daily basis, and the worker must be paid 150 per cent of his normal hourly rate of pay for each extra hour worked."

But sales staff at the Computer Plaza in Bur Dubai complain that shop owners do not bother about the rules. "Everyone is forced to work longer hours," said one salesman. "No one can complain because no one wants to lose their jobs," he said.
UAE residents report flouting of Ramadan work hours
Abdulla Rashid, Mahmood Saberi, Samihah Zaman, Gulf News, August 4, 2011