UAE jail for offensive whatsapp message


This is really a cautionary tale for foreigners living in the UAE.

Last Monday the supreme court in the United Arab Emirates jailed an Omani man for three years for “mocking” the Gulf state on WhatsApp messenger, local media reported.

Owaissi was also fined 50,000 dirhams.

There has been no information on who he shared the message with on the popular mobile telephone application, or how many people it reached.

The UAE is a key member of the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen in support of internationally recognised President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The oil-rich country has not seen any of the pro-reform protests that have swept other Arab countries since 2011, including fellow Gulf states Bahrain and Oman.

But authorities have stepped up a crackdown on dissent amid calls for democratic reform.

Self censorship and the need to be highly cautious with comments that might be considered critical are hard to reconcile with the objectives of newly set up new ministries for happiness, tolerance and youth.

Freedom of speech is surely one of the pre-requisites of a tolerant, successful and ambitious nation.

Owaissi was convicted of violating the country’s cybercrime law which was passed in 2012. Human Rights Watch has called the law an “attack on free speech”.

The legislation governs all online communications, prohibiting criticism of the UAE’s leaders and barring calls for political reform in the authoritarian Gulf state.

Be careful.


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