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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Report: UAE court convicts Qataris for social media insults

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6405188121_4c96f9e590_b
For illustrative purposes only.

Five Qatari nationals have been handed lengthy prison terms and ordered to pay large fines after a court in the UAE convicted them for posting insulting images of that country’s royal family on Twitter and Instagram, a UAE newspaper has reported.

The National said Hamad Al Hammadi, 33, was found guilty of attempting to ruin UAE government’s reputation by spreading insulting images of the country’s symbols.

He was ordered to spend 10 years in jail and pay a Dh1 million (QR990,880) fine. Four other Qatari individuals, which the newspaper did not name, were convicted in absentia and handed a life sentence as well as Dh1 million fines.

Several UAE residents reacted angrily after news of the verdict broke earlier today, saying the sentence was too lenient.


(Translation: What they did represents the insolence of the (UAE’s) neighbors and how low they stoop)


(Translation: The sentence was too lenient for those lowlives)

Others jumped into the conversation by defending the convicted man and disparaging Emirati citizens with a common Arabic insult.

(Translation: The shoes of the youngest Qatari is bigger than your head and the heads of (UAE nationals))

After reading some of the online comments, one Qatar resident said he hoped the people of the two countries would put their differences aside in the aftermath of last year’s diplomatic dispute:

“The two countries are coming together and the political unrest is fortunately becoming a thing of the past,”  said Zaid Qassim. “That means coming together on all fronts, political resolutions between the governments … and avoiding tensions between the people of these countries be it social media or any other platform.”

The individuals were convicted of posted the material under the Twitter and Instagram accounts @bo3skor101, @bo3skor2021, @northsniper, @9ip and @bo3skor1011. Much of the offending material is still online, and also includes doctored, derogatory images of Qatar’s royal family.

During the trial, the convicted individuals were referred to as “foreign agents” working for Qatar’s state security agency.

Defense arguments

Cell phones
For illustrative purposes only.

According to previous reports in The National, Al Hammadi’s lawyer conceded that his client had purchased the SIM cards for the phones on which the offending material was found. But he argued that Al Hammadi had bought the SIM cards on the direction of his manager and did not use them himself.

Additionally, the lawyer raised questions about who actually created the images. He said they had been circulated on a WhatsApp group chat and had been automatically downloaded to the phones that were eventually seized by investigators.

“There is no evidence that (Al Hammadi) was in fact the one using the number or devices in evidence, or the one behind the Twitter or Instagram accounts,” lawyer Hamdan Al Zeyoodi told the court, according to The National.

The prosecutor, meanwhile, argued that the defamation campaign was part of a “military mission” that involved the men pretending they were locals “to show that Emiratis had offended their own leaders,” The National reported in April.

The men were tried under the UAE’s cybercrime law, which was introduced in 2012 and has been condemned by human rights advocates. In a report last year, Amnesty International said authorities have used the law’s “broad and sweeping” provisions to prosecute activists for using Twitter and other social media platforms to criticize the UAE’s human rights record or to call for greater freedoms.

Qatar’s own cybercrime legislation was passed into law last September to comply with an agreement among Gulf states to criminalize online insults of the region’s royal families, Qatar’s former justice minister told Doha News last year.

Thoughts?

78 COMMENTS

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Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago

Well, travel just became very difficult for those convicted in abstentia. They’ll have to learn to like Qatar in the summer I think.

Yousef
Yousef
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

LONG live the USA …

FREEDOM of speech and FREEdom to say and do as you like !!

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  Yousef

I advise a little more study of US 1st amendment laws. While it is true that these gentlemen would face no penalties if they had done this in the US, calling it freedom to “say and do as you like” will lead to sudden and unpleasant learning experience.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

When we talk of freedom we do understand it isn’t an open book, but it’s a far less closed book than the Middle East.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

Yep, preaching to the choir on that one. Just wanted to make sure that the OP didn’t get himself in trouble one day not fully understanding the situation.

qatari
qatari
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

yeah, great example of that is Guantanamo prison run by the US goverment.opps

Andrew
Andrew
6 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Guantanamo is a great example of many systemic failings of the US interface between the judicial, legislative, executive and military branches of the government. But I don’t see any link between a prison camp in Cuba and the 1st Amendment.

qatari
qatari
6 years ago
Reply to  Andrew

when the comments say freedom in the US (so at least here in the ME you get a accused & trialed (though shame full ones in my opinion) where there. you be held without being accused of anything for years .

Andrew
Andrew
6 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Point taken, but that’s not an issue related to freedom of speech. That’s a very real and very troubling example of where Habeas Corpus hasn’t been applied to the Guantanamo detainees.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  Andrew

Deleting the rest of this thread for getting off track…

zeitgeist
zeitgeist
6 years ago
Reply to  Yousef

I like your sarcasm.

qatari
qatari
6 years ago
Reply to  Yousef

unless your not white, where you get shot in the back by cops.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  Yousef

Deleting for irrelevance and subsequent thread.

Randomer
Randomer
6 years ago

“Several UAE residents reacted angrily after news of the verdict broke earlier today…”

*Of course they would. A million Riyals and ten years for an insult!????*

“saying the sentence was too lenient.”

Uhm…

Sarah010
Sarah010
6 years ago
Reply to  Randomer

Double take moment right there. I honestly thought they would say it was too much

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Following on from the journalist articles and those that got imprisoned I must say these Qataris broke the law and got what they deserved. If there is a law you have to abide by it.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

What happened to FoS in the previous article?

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

I’m just being sarcastic.

British man gets detained, he broke the law he deserved it.

Qataris get sentenced, you can’t trust Emirati justice it’s a disgrace. Such hypocrisy.

Saleem
Saleem
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

If only Darwin’s law came with an authoritarian to enforce it, we would have got rid of your dumb a$$ a long time ago.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  Saleem

Deleting for personal attack.

Akmal farah
Akmal farah
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

lol.. No no… How dare you!
The law suddenly takes a U-turn when it comes down to Qatar/Qataris. I think the Jews got it all wrong that they are the chosen people!… Now we know!

Amy Binso
Amy Binso
6 years ago
Reply to  Akmal farah

hehehe… good one

Yummykarak
Yummykarak
6 years ago

10 years-life in prison is a bit….wow
I know I am going to get a lot of backlash for saying this but here it is.
You know that defamation is against the law as is insulting royal families. Then you decide to make doctored insulting images and post them online?
Maybe he/they did not do what they are accused of and it had been someone else; there’s not too much info in the story. But if they did do it, what dimwits.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Yummykarak

You seem to be really naive to believe in the Emirati “justice”. Just to give you a hint, it is not much different from the Egyptian justice. Moreover, the UAE has been very bullish in its behavior with Qatar recently because of the Egyptian issue. This story is also related to that.
What is really sad is that things seem to be always escalating from the UAE side while Qatar has been very diplomatic so far.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

What goes around comes around.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Or as Pastor Jeremiah Wright said, “America’s chickens
are coming home to roost.” 😉

Romulus
Romulus
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

btw – who do you work for?

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Or Qatari justice.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

I’d still rather deal with the Qatari justice than the Emirati one. With all its shortcomings it still looks fairer to me.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Are you serious?

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

Good forbid obviously, but yes I am serious 🙂

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Less of the two evils I’d agree, but I’d hate to be in a situation of dealing with either one.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

That is exactly my point 🙂

Nuremburg
Nuremburg
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

Do you even know anything about the Emirati justice system? You wouldn’t have to ask that if you did.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Lets ask the parents of the kids killed at Villagio , the Sri Lankan teacher at QA accused of insulting islam by two 12 yr olds, the American couple accused of murdering their child and partly because “who would adopt african children”, the list is long and myriad.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

There are way more similar cases in the UAE than here, but again, I am not saying the system here is great. It is just less awful than the UAE one.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Let’s ask the families of Trayvon Martin, Micheal Brown, Eric Garner, and all other, what do you call them? Ah, yes, “people of color”, who were killed by white vigilantes or law enforcement what they think of their justice system! Now there’s a list that is long and myriad!

Then there’s Gitmo, and that’s a whole lot of mess!

Funny how you told me not that long ago, with reference to violence by Islamic extremist in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, to clean up the $#*! in my “backyard”, but it seems you’re not bothered by your own room!

By the way, Yacine’s point was comparing the Emirati and Qatari justice systems, he did not claim that the Qatari one without flaws, or that it’s even a good one.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Yes lets compare a few isolated incidences of police brutality in the US to the acts of ISIS, Boko Haram, Taliban,… the list is long and myriad. You’re really not that daft are you?

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Hahaha! “few isolated incidences of police brutality in the US”! Sure thing boss. All is good in good ol’ U.S.A. You betcha 🙂

By the way, I was comparing the failures of your Justice system to deliver justice in the cases I mentioned, to the cases in Qatar you brought up here. You know, comparing apples to apples.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

That’s funny, based on desertcard’s writing style I would never have thought of her (I have assigned the her pronoun, it may be wrong) as American.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Deleting the rest of this thread for getting off track.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  ShabinaKhatri

You’re the boss 😉

qatari
qatari
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

so your saying US justice is better,and the US arresting ALJAZEERA journalist , should also be another example. oh wait .what law did he break again ???

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Your link?

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

They broke the law, they knew the laws and should abide with them even if they think they are wrong. That’s the correct answer isn’t it?

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

What we are questioning here is the fact that they broke the law. The Emirati justice is not one you would trust for this kind of things, and it is clear that the trial was politicized. That’s how I see it anyway but I might be wrong.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Arresting journalists in Qatar is politcised as they don’t want them airing their stories in the outside world….

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

In the UAE this journalist would serve a much longer sentence, but yes you are right Qatar Also might resort to political pressure with regards to some issues.

qatari
qatari
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

and the US arresting ALJAZEERA journalist , should also be another example. oh wait .what law did he break again ???

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Do you have a link? I’m familiar with Al Jazeera ‘journalists’ arrested for illegally flying drones over restricted airspace in Paris. I’ve seen nothing about US arrests.

qatari.
qatari.
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

sami alhajj, arrested for no giving reason. google it

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Deleting the rest of this thread for getting off track.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I’m not so sure about the bit that “they knew the laws”!

But consider this: by that logic, one could easily argue that many of the people commenting here, yourself included, are often breaking the law while commenting here.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Even if you don’t know the law, ignorance is no defence! The point I am making it is hypocritical to say the Brit journalist got what he deserved because he broke the laws even if you don’t like them and then to say the opposite in this case.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

It depends; in the case of the journalist who started filming without having obtained a permit, he knew he put himself in a questionable position.

The case of the BBC journalist, on the other hand, seems closer to this case, as there appears to have been a misunderstanding regarding the type of visa he needed. Based on the fact of that case I’ve read hear, I do think keeping him in custody for 2-3 days was a bit too much.

Regardless, there is a big difference between people arrested for actually having the wrong visa or going around doing things without having a permit, and handing someone a life sentence and 1 M Dh for publishing something or commenting online.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

I do agree with you as I do on many thing. For the qataris I saw the pictures. Offensive yes but that makes them a**holes not criminals

Lisa Clayton
Lisa Clayton
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Completely agree. The first journalists (from German media) came in under false pretenses & didn’t get the proper visa to work in Qatar. The BBC ones were invited according to my knowledge & Qataris involved over-reacted.

Life sentences & steep fines for this kind of thing just seems cray….

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

If you were being honest, you’d have to include yourself in that category too, wouldn’t you?

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

I’m not if it’s my writing skills are causing the confusion, or your reading comprehension. I guess we’ll never know.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Yep, just keep telling yourself that.

Yummykarak
Yummykarak
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Never said it was true or false. Just said that if they did do it, they were not the brightest fellows. Plus the defamation law applies to all GCC countries. If they were in Qatar they would have been arrested for the pictures as well…if they did it.

Salman Khan
Salman Khan
6 years ago

These lawyers are born stupid or they become one once they’re lawyers?

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

“UAE is an open country forever, since ever …” oh sorry that was Qatar wasn’t it.

Coco
Coco
6 years ago

It seems like a race in trying to prove who is more easily offended. You can’t make this stuff up.

Scarletti
Scarletti
6 years ago

oh, grow up !… dont know what is worse – the childishness of the ‘insult’ or the petty over-reaction to it !

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago

Will somebody please explain this ‘insult’ and why it is considered insulting? (Translation: The shoes of the youngest Qatari is bigger than your head and the heads of (UAE nationals))

Amy Binso
Amy Binso
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

is this the insult?!! for this life sentence!!!!!

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  Amy Binso

Copied verbatim from the article which took it from a twitter feed. Guess this is one of those things that doesn’t translate well.

Lisa Clayton
Lisa Clayton
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

Think about it in the context of showing the soles of your shoes or throwing a shoe. Shoes are dirty and “low” for want of a better term. So something so low from a Qatari child is better than an Emirati & their ability to think.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

Personally I really feel for the Qataris that have been imprisoned under such draconian laws, perhaps it can assist in Qatar looking at their own similar laws and thinking, hang on, perhaps we need to be less worried about what people say and more about what people do or conspire to do? I mean calling the Emir an unpleasant name, so what, but plotting to harm the Emir that’s a different story. Get my drift.

Peter
Peter
6 years ago

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ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  Peter

Deleting for spam.

Critic
Critic
6 years ago

Notice that the defense didn’t raise any FoS or HR kind or argument as this would lead to nowhere. Instead the defense focused on trying to prove that the defendants are not responsible for the material. This shows the massive need for reform of the entire justice system across the region.

I may be naive, but something tells me that the sentence has been inflated in order to act as a deterrent. Hopefully the man will be held for a short while and (quietly) released as a result of some negotiation.

Romulus
Romulus
6 years ago

It seems that manipulating the media to “Improve” Qatar’s image is a big job for Qatar’s State Security services,
as the BBC dicovered trying to report on migrant worker’s conditions in Doha.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32775563

Lisa Clayton
Lisa Clayton
6 years ago

This is one of the funniest things I’ve read in the last few days. Divorced from it’s cultural context — and even in it — the “insults” are quite silly and adolescent 🙂

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