Abu Dhabi mall
Representational image: A mall in Abu Dhabi, UAEReuters

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which passed an anti-discriminatory law last week, saw the first case under the new legislation after the Dubai police lodged a complaint against a Saudi national for 'insulting the UAE'. 

Deputy Commander of Dubai Police and General Security, Lt General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, reportedly lodged a case under the anti-hate law against Saudi tweeter Mohammed Al Hadeef for 'continuous insults against the UAE and for instigating hatred against the country' through his posts on Twitter. 

"Now we have a law that we can use to prosecute all those who make insults and instigate hatred so they will be punished. This Saudi tweeter has been publishing remarks that instigate hatred against the UAE by spreading baseless rumours and lies," Lt General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, who filed the first case under the anti-hate law, was quoted as saying by Emirates 24/7 News

Hadeef, who has more than 5,000 followers on Twitter, was reportedly critical about the UAE's participation in the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen. 

It is not clear where Hadeef is based, but the Dubai police have vowed that "despite his location, he will be pursued". 

The anti-hate law, which was decreed by UAE President Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan last week, seeks to clamp down on religious discrimination, hate crimes and extremism, but is also being seen as a means of restricting free speech and expressions, especially criticism against the state. 

The International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE), a London-based campaign to support political activism and democratic reform in the UAE, said the law has been used to silence critics. 

"This new law could be used to further stifle free speech in the UAE. In the first application of this new law this prediction has been rapidly realised. As the crackdown in the UAE continues, this new law suggests that the climate is worsening and any form of dissent could face even harsher repercussions," the organisation said in a statement sent to IBTimes India