Kuwait City, KUWAIT – A man in Kuwait has been jailed for two years after publishing a Twitter post that was deemed to be insulting to the Gulf nation’s ruler (pictured above).
A Kuwaiti court on Sunday put 26-year-old activist Rashed al-Enezi behind bars for his controversial tweet, and he may not be the last. The Arab Times reports that “dozens” of tweeters, activists and former opposition lawmakers all face similar charges.
Mohammad al-Humaidi, head of the independent Kuwait Society for Human Rights, told the Associated Press that al-Enezi was arrested by police and taken to jail “immediately” after his tweet was discovered. al-Humaidi says:
“The charges were not based on solid accusations but on wrong interpretation of the tweets by authorities. Most of the charges are fabricated.”
The defendant, who was in the courtroom to hear his sentence, is the latest victim in a new series of crackdowns across the Gulf Arab states on perceived dissent among bloggers and other individuals using social media to criticize authorities. Many of the states, which are close allies of western nations, have introduced harsher sentencing for such offenses as a reaction to the Arab Spring, the movement which has already toppled several leaders in the region.
On January 7, Kuwait City’s Criminal Court will begin trying a former MP and a journalist. Both men have been charged with “defaming the status” of the Amir.
Rashed al-Enezi’s sentence was not the harshest doled out to opposition activists. Back in November, a Qatari poet was given a life sentence after he wrote a verse inspired by the Arab Spring. Authorities in the Gulf state argued that the contents of the verse were insulting towards Qatar’s emir, and were designed to encourage an uprising. The poet is appealing the sentence.