On Monday, a teacher, Huda al Ajmi, was sentenced to 11 years in prison because of postings that she had previously written on Twitter. One of many posts insulted the Gulf nation’s ruler and others encouraged his overthrow. Authorities are said to be increasingly cracking down on perceived dissent on social media. Surprisingly, dozens of people across the Western-backed Gulf states have been sentenced to jail time for Twitter and blog posts in the past year. This comes amid increasing tightening of internet freedom laws across the Gulf region, despite the country priding itself on being generally more liberal than its neighbors.
The charge for insulting the Emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah, whom the constitution describes as ‘immune and inviolable’, alone, carries one year. The other terms were both five years, given for encouraging a rebellion against the regime and for breaking the law on public discussions.
As for the Gulf Arab region as a whole, it has also been seen as collectively acting to limit internet freedoms. The measures many regions have taken include restricting content on social media sites, making “offending” posts punishable by extensive jail sentences.
Aside from Kuwait: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have all tightened controls on Internet freedoms recently, targeting social media and phone applications alike in their effort to stifle freedom of speech. Across the Gulf, dozens of journalists and social media users have been arrested since the beginning of the year for being in violation of national laws. Kuwait has arrested at least six people since the beginning of 2013.
Of all the Arab states in the region, Kuwait has suffered the least amount of anti-government violence and uprisings, yet the number of people speaking out over Facebook and Twitter and being arrested for it is no lower than elsewhere.
Do you think handing down these harsh sentences goes against freedom of speech? Is 11 years too harsh for a teacher merely expressing her views on her own government? What sentence, if any, would be appropriate for a so-called “crime” like this?
Article Source: RT
Picture Source: Google