A Saudi Arabian man is facing punishment in the form of 80 lashes from a whip. He’ll also get three months of jail and a hefty fine. The man’s crime? According to a Saudi Arabian court, the man, Naif Abdullah, defamed Kuwaiti singer Shams with a Twitter post. The official verdict finds the man guilty of accusing the singer of “adultery without providing proof.” The Saudi Arabian court’s ruling is in line with Islamic Sharia law which strictly forbids extra-marital affairs and punishes unproven accusations of such behavior.
The Saudi Arabian man was apparently a fan of a rival pop star as indicated by his Twitter account name which translates to “the lawyer of Queen Ahlam.” Shams, the target of the Saudi Arabian man’s alleged slander, had previously filed a libel suit.
In the case, Naif Abdullah is accused of not only falsely accusing the pop singer of immoral behavior, but posting fake pictures of Shams in “obscene” settings. The suit does not make clear what the Saudi Arabian man’s images depicted.
Reaction to the ruling against the Saudi Arabian man has been mixed. Expatriates living in the Gulf nation say the court’s decision concerns them. It shows the need to take special caution when posting on internet social networks.
As one expatriate figure from the Philippines delicately put it, people like him need to avoid posting about things “that are not clear to us.” Before making a public claim, internet users in Saudi Arabia should “establish the authenticity of the information,” he says.
Others applaud the Saudi Arabian court’s ruling. They say the decision makes a strong statement against online predators and bullying. As one commenter remarked, they hope this “will put an end to irresponsible tweets and posts” falsely accusing others of crimes over disagreements and rivalries.
Whether the ruling can be hailed as a positive move is debatable. However, it is clear that the Saudi Arabian court’s decision will change social media users’ behavior in the Gulf nation.
[Image via http://www.voiceofthecopts.org]