President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Sunday, has ratified the government-proposed bill to amend the Penal Code to criminalize acts of hate – which was passed by the Parliament on November 16.
The bill declares accusing a specific person of violating Islam or standing against Islam in public, inciting hatred against a specific person within the community by citing Islamic faith, and accusing, describing or taking part in describing a Muslim as a kafir in public are acts of hate.
Four amendments were proposed to the hate crime bill by the Parliament’s Judiciary Committee.
One of the amendments was to declare that describing or accusing a person of being a kafir or apostate in public, or taking part in describing or accusing a person of being a kafir or apostate in public is a criminal offense, unless the person carries out an act of kufr or explicitly utters words of kufr.
The committee said they made the change to detail circumstances in which describing or accusing a person of violating Islam or being a kafir or an apostate can be considered a criminal offense.
An amendment was also added to the bill, which removes obstacles from stating what the Quran or Sunnah prescribes in various matters.
The committee also added an amendment to criminalize making disparaging remarks against the religion of Islam.
The amendment states that spreading or taking part in spreading misinformation regarding Almighty Allah, Quran, Prophet Mohamed, Sunnah, or the religion of Islam through communication devices or any other medium is a criminal offense.
The bill also details some of the terms on the bill, adding TV, radio, phone, social media and other communication channels to the word “public”.
The terms “acts of kufr” and “words of kufr” will be considered acts and words undisputed among Islamic scholars who adhere to Sunnah.
Meanwhile, “apostasy” will be considered acts and words undisputed among Islamic scholars who adhere to Sunnah and where it is proven in a court in accordance with Islamic Sharia.
The Parliament passed the bill with the unanimous vote of 50 parliamentarians who were present for the voting.
Following the ratification by President Solih today, the amendment has now come into force.