Gulf War on Free Speech Spreads to Kuwait (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Gabe Kahn 03/28/12)
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Kuwaiti authorities arrested a local man for insulting the Prophet
Mohammad on his Twitter account as oppression of Internet dissent in
the Gulf spreads.
Blasphemy is illegal in Kuwait under the 1961 press and publications
law, but it is not punishable by death as in neighboring Saudi
Arabia, where the case of a columnist facing similar accusations has
drawn international attention.
The Kuwaiti man, whose name was not disclosed by officials, "defamed
the Islamic faith and slandered the Prophet Mohammad, his companions
and his wife," the ministry said in a statement issued on state-run
news agency KUNA.
The ministry "regretted the abusing of social networks by some
individuals to offend basic Islamic and spiritual values, vowing to
show zero tolerance in combating such serious offences," it said in
However, reports in Kuwait indicated that the arrest was only made
after members of parliament – swept by Islamist parties in a recent
election – staged protests demanding the arrest.
Interior ministry officials said that following an interrogation the
man now faces court proceedings.
The Kuwaiti case is similar to that of Hamza Kashgari, a Saudi
journalist who fled the country fearing for his life, following
statements he made on Twitter were deemed blasphemous.
In another parallel with the Kuwait case, Riyadh had been amid a
glacially slow shift to reform, but amid the Arab Spring has sought
to shore up support among hardliner clerics opposed to liberalization.
Despite reports Kashgari was to be released following his
public ‘repentance’ in an Islamic court, Kashgari is still detained
and could be held indefinitely.
This not the first time a Kuwaiti tweeter has found himself targeted
by authorities following statements made on the social network.
Mohammad al-Mulaifi was detained by the Kuwaiti secret police last
month for 21 days after being accused of "insulting the Muslim Shiite
minority," which in the past has led to a three year prison sentence.
Al-Mulaifi has yet to be released.
In September a Kuwaiti court convicted a man for insulting Gulf
rulers and posting "inflammatory sectarian comments online," but he
was released immediately because of time already served while
Twitter is very popular in Kuwait, where many politicians,
journalists and other public figures use theservice to debate current
events and share gossip.
Kuwaiti media carried unconfirmed comments from the man denying the
accusations. "I will never attack the Holy Prophet." He reportedly
claimed his account had been hacked. (IsraelNationalNews © 2012
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