Kuwait City, Kuwait – A man in Kuwait has received five years in prison for insulting the ruler of the Arab state, Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
A court in Kuwait City handed Mohammad Eid al-Ajmi the maximum sentence for making disparaging remarks about the emir (above) on Twitter. The case is part of a new crackdown on social media users who are critical of Kuwait’s ruler. The Kuwaiti constitution describes the emir as “immune and inviolable”.
Lawyer Mohammad al-Humaidi, director of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights, told news website alaan.cc that the Kuwaiti government needs to revise its approach to free speech. He said:
“We call on the government to expand freedoms and adhere to the international (human rights) conventions it has signed.”
al-Humaidi is not alone in his plea. In November, Amnesty International urged authorities in Kuwait to drop restrictions on freedom of expression and public assembly. The human rights organization argued that users of social media required greater protection, whether they supported or opposed the government.
Twitter has a large userbase in Kuwait, with 8% of the country’s 3.7 million citizens registered with the social media service.
However, Twitter users in the Gulf state who oppose the government are closely monitored. In January, a court sentenced two men in separate cases to jail time for insulting the emir on Twitter, while another activist was given 10 years in prison after he was found guilty of insulting the Prophet Mohammad and the Sunni Muslim rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on various social media sites.