Insulting the emir in the Arab state of Kuwait has landed a man in jail. The allegedly slanderous comments have been made on the Twitter social networking website.
According to Kuwaiti law, emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is regarded as “immune and inviolable.” Therefore, anyone attempting to discredit him is liable for a lawsuit on felony charges.
Under article 25 of the penal code, anyone publicly insulting the ruler or Kuwait, as well as those who criticize him, can be arrested and jailed.
Israel National News quotes Mohammad al-Humaidi, director of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights, in his plea to allow free speech and dismiss similar charges.
“We call on the government to expand freedoms and adhere to the international (human rights) conventions it has signed,” al-Humaidi says in a statement.
Kuwaiti Mohammad Eid al-Ajmi was sentenced to a maximum of five years in jail for his remarks. The same publication notes that the Twitter user's commentary supports the country's opposition.
Even as speaking ill of the emir is punishable by law and it is included as an offense in the penal code, authorities recently started zeroing in on those opposing the ruler.
Policies on the matter have become stricter in November, before the December 1 elections. In January, two men by the names of Ayyad al-Harbi and Rashed al-Enezi have been jailed for making similar comments on Twitter. The two young men, both in their 20s, were the first to be convicted for this crime.
Amnesty International is opposing Kuwait's take on free expression on social media, advocating for better protection for its users, whatever their political preferences.
Although Mohammad Eid al-Ajmi's sentence can be appealed, Kuwait Times notes that it must take effect immediately.
Several other tweeters who published views supporting the opposition are scheduled to go on trial in the coming weeks.
Recent incidents have prompted protests on Sunday, with demonstrators asking for either the Amendment in question to be nullified, or the National Assembly to be dissolved.