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Abu Dhabi courts to require mandatory English translations for some cases

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Plaintiffs in civil and commercial cases involving non-Arabic-­speaking defendants will from Sunday have to translate case files into English in a first for the region.

The new rules introduced by Abu Dhabi Judicial Department apply to civil and commercial courts only, where the plaintiff is usually claiming money from the defendant – the only language the translations will be required in is English. Previously, all court documents were presented in Arabic only and defendants had to translate case files to learn the details of the cases against them.

Defendants, who may later have their defence upheld, would be required to have each page of the case file against them translated, which could be an expensive process if the case ran to several pages.

Abu Dhabi courts are the first in the region to add English as an official second language, according to Chief Justice Yousef Al Abri, undersecretary of the judicial department.

“Our courts system is going hand in hand with the ambitious economic plans of our leaders,” Mr Al Abri said.

“A bilingual court will assure clarity, transparency and certainty for non-Arabic parties to a litigation, this is an essential step for improving non-Arabic speaking litigants’ access to justice and for enabling them to make better use of our court services.”

The judicial department studied the multilingual courts of Switzerland and Canada, aiming to make Abu Dhabi an attractive destination for foreign investors by reducing risk and increasing trust in the justice system.

“Some companies were reluctant to invest in Abu Dhabi when they found out that court cases are filed only in Arabic,” said Hesham Elrafei, a legal expert at the judicial department. “As an investor, it would feel as though it is too risky – if a dispute were to occur, I wouldn’t even be able to read the court files.”

Mr Elrafei said that until now, non-Arab residents, who make up the majority of the population in the UAE, had “a problem” when they received court documents in Arabic.

They might get confused as to what is being asked of them and, with each page of translation costing up to Dh100, it was costly. Now plaintiffs will be more likely to limit the length of their claims.

“Before, you would find plaintiffs stretching claims that could have been summed up in 50 pages to 1,000 pages, just to complicate the litigation,” he said. “The plaintiff is requesting something, so they should take the responsibility of paying for the translation.”

The new system does not apply to labour court cases, because, according to Mr Elrafei, labourers “cannot afford the translations, and they are claiming money from their employers, so it doesn’t make sense to make them pay”. The change does not apply to criminal and misdemeanour cases either.

The move is designed to boost foreign commercial investment in Abu Dhabi.

Investors have been choosing the free zone – the Abu Dhabi Global Market on Al Maryah Island, which has had its own English-language court since last year. But with the free zone, business is limited to Al Maryah Island.
The Abu Dhabi government’s 2030 vision aims to expand foreign investment across Abu Dhabi, and to make the emirate a top destination for skilled workers.

The judicial department has also introduced bilingual court forms such as rental-­dispute claims, notary public applications and notification requests. “This is happening for the first time in the Middle East – courts across other Arab countries accept only Arabic forms and documents,” Mr Elrafei said.

“This is understandable in countries such as Egypt or Syria, where the majority of the population are Arabs, but in a country where the majority are foreigners, it is necessary to add English.

“Seventy per cent of the UAE population are non-Arabic speakers.”

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Irish Bishop Against Practicing Yoga in Christian Schools

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An Irish bishop has written to Catholic schools urging them to ban yoga as it is ‘not of Christian origin’ and the children should spend their time ‘in adoration of Jesus’ instead.

Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, wrote to principals, teachers and school staff members in Waterford City and County, Ireland, on October 10.

In his letter, he said: ‘Yoga is not of Christian origin and is not suitable for our parish school setting and especially not during religious education time.

‘I have been asked by several people to say a word on yoga and mindfulness. My question is, ‘Will they bring us closer to God or replace him?’

The bishop claimed that Christian Mindfulness is ‘meditation on Christ’ which empties the mind of ‘everything unnecessary’ in order to become ‘aware of the presence and love of Christ’.

While he also quoted Pope Francis that practices like yoga are ‘not capable of opening our hearts up to God’.

The bishop added how people can ‘take a million courses in spirituality’ but this activity ‘will never be able to give you freedom’, echoing Pope Francis’s speech in 2015.

He said Pope Francis’s philosophy was in keeping with Ireland’s Grow In Love programme. This touches on Christian doctrine, Scripture, morality and prayer.

Teacher’s were reminded that October is the ‘month of the Rosary’ and they should each pray in a bid to get closer to Jesus, in the letter.

But the primary school curriculum allows a degree of flexibility about how its implemented, according to the Irish National Teachers Organisation, who hit-back at his view.

John Stokes, a yoga instructor in Waterford, said the practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness should be ’embraced’ in ‘an age where children are really suffering from anxiety and stress’.

‘There is no dogma taught in our classes and Yoga in it’s truest sense is a movement and breath awareness practice for health and wellbeing.

They said ‘here’s to tolerance, love and unity’ and invited him to a one-to-one yoga session or class of his choice’ at their Wellness Centre in Youghal, Ireland.

The Irish National Teachers Organisation said the primary school curriculum allows schools a certain amount of flexibility and autonomy with regard to its implementation.

They said the schools ‘are best placed’ to make the decisions about how the subjects are taught, taking into consideration the ‘school culture, ethos and needs of the pupils’.

This is not the first time Bishop Cullinan has received backlash for his views as he said he was to establish a ‘delivery ministry’ group to rid people of the devil through exorcism, last year.

He also claimed the cervical cancer vaccine could lead to promiscuity in 2017.

The bishop said the vaccine ‘lulls girls into false sense of security’ and encourages sexual activity, adding: ‘Prevention, the number one and most effective protection, is abstinence. A good old traditional value.’

He later apologised and admitted he was not fully informed about the vaccination programme. Cullinan’s ‘intention was solely motivated to protect people from HPV’.

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China Demolishes 3,000-Seat Megachurch during Worship Service

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The People’s Republic of China destroyed a church that reportedly could seat 3,000 people and detained its pastors, according to a human rights organization.

An international nonprofit Christian human rights group based in Texas, reported the incident in a statement released Saturday. According to the group, Chinese authorities provided no legal papers to justify the demolition.

The church was located in Funan, Anhui province. Its pastors, Geng Yimin and Sun Yongyao, were detained under suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.”

China Aid President Bob Fu said in a statement that the incident was “yet another clear example showing the escalation of religious persecution today by the Chinese Communist regime.”

“The total disregard of religious freedom’s protection as enshrined in the Communist Party’s own Constitution tells the whole world President Xi is determined to continue his war against the peaceful Christian faithful. This campaign will surely fail in the end.”

While China’s persecution of religious groups has existed for many years, recently under President Xi Jinping a wave of crackdowns on religious practices in China has taken place.

The Communist government has destroyed or damaged several churches, reflecting concerns about the increasing Christian population of the country.

In the summer, True Jesus Church in Henan province was razed to the ground, according to persecution watchdog Bitter Winter. Police officers reportedly dragged out all believers from the church before they demolished the property.

Bitter Winter also reported last month that the Ten Commandments have been removed from nearly every Three-Self church and meeting venue in a county of Luoyang city and replaced with the President Xi Jinping’s quotes as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to “sinicize” Christianity.

In addition to cracking down on its Christian minority, China has engaged in violent persecution of its Uighur Muslim and Falun Gong communities.

The China Tribunal, a human rights group, told the United Nations Human Rights Council last month that the Chinese government is harvesting organs from religious minorities, with possibly hundreds of thousands of victims.

“Forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, including the religious minorities of Falun Gong and Uighurs, has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale, and that it continues today. This involves hundreds of thousands of victims.”

“Victim for victim and death for death, cutting out the hearts and other organs from living, blameless, harmless, peaceable people constitutes one of the worst mass atrocities of this century.”

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