Dubai appeals court upholds expat’s sentence for blasphemous Facebook post

The expat appeared at the appeal courts in Dubai (Shutterstock)
Updated 13 September 2017
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Dubai appeals court upholds expat’s sentence for blasphemous Facebook post

DUBAI: Appeal courts in Dubai have upheld an earlier jail sentence handed down to an expat for posting blasphemous comments on Facebook.
The man, who worked as a welder will now serve the one-year sentence before being deported, as well as pay a 500,000 dirham fine ($136,100).
The man, from India, had claimed his Facebook account had been hacked and that he had not written the comments about the Prophet that were found on his timeline on Nov. 6, 2016.
However investigators revealed that the man had signed out of his account and deleted all his personal data the day after the comments were posted according to local press reports.
Despite denials that he had accessed the account at the time, prosecutors said similar comments had been made on his account in October 2016
Prosecutors told the court that the man also posted comments that insulted Arabs and described as a “chaotic religion,” according to UAE daily The National.
He was arrested after a fellow Indian expat reported him to police after seeing the remarks on Facebook.
“I felt so offended by the insults against my prophet so I asked a friend who knew the suspect and where he lived and I went to his house in Al Rashidiyah and found him drunk,” the grocery shop worker was quoted in The National as saying.
The defendant was convicted earlier this year, but lodged an appeal against the sentence.
Under UAE law blasphemy is illegal or to discriminate against a person because of their religion – and technically this law applies to all religions.


Israel targets rights groups with bill to outlaw filming of soldiers

Israeli soldiers are under constant attack by Israel haters, says defense minister. (AFP)
Updated 17 June 2018
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Israel targets rights groups with bill to outlaw filming of soldiers

  • Rights groups frequently film Israeli soldiers on duty in the occupied West Bank, documentation the organizations say is necessary to expose abuse by the military
  • A ministerial committee which oversees legislation voted to approve the bill on Sunday

JERUSALEM: Israel moved on Sunday to snap the lens shut on rights groups that film its troops’ interactions with Palestinians by introducing a bill that would make it a criminal offense.
Rights groups frequently film Israeli soldiers on duty in the occupied West Bank, documentation the organizations say is necessary to expose abuse by the military.
A video filmed by Israeli rights group B’Tselem in 2016 showing an Israeli soldier shoot dead an incapacitated Palestinian assailant drew international condemnation and led to the soldier’s conviction for manslaughter in a highly divisive trial.
The proposed law, formulated by the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition, would make filming or publishing footage “with intent to harm the morale of Israel’s soldiers or its inhabitants” punishable by up to five years in prison.
The term would be raised to 10 years if the intention was to damage “national security.”
A ministerial committee which oversees legislation voted to approve the bill on Sunday. It will now go to parliament for a vote that could take place this week and if ratified, will be scrutinized and amended before three more parliamentary votes needed for it to pass into law.
Yisrael Beitenu leader and Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, praised the committee and said: “Israeli soldiers are under constant attack by Israel haters and supporters of terrorism who look constantly to degrade and sully them. We will put an end to this.”
A Palestinian official condemned the move.
“This decision aims to cover up crimes committed by Israeli soldiers against our people, and to free their hands to commit more crimes,” Deputy Palestinian Information Minister Fayez Abu Aitta told Reuters.
The phrasing of the bill stops short of a blanket ban, aiming instead at “anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian organizations” which spend “entire days near Israeli soldiers waiting breathlessly for actions that can be documented in a slanted and one-sided way so that soldiers can be smeared.”
Naming B’Tselem and several other rights groups, the bill says many of them are supported by organizations and governments with “a clear anti-Israel agenda” and that the videos are used to harm Israel and national security.
The ban would cover social networks as well as traditional media.
B’Tselem shrugged off the bill.
“If the occupation embarrasses the government, then the government should take action to end it. Documenting the reality of the occupation will continue regardless of such ridiculous legislation efforts,” the group’s spokesman, Amit Gilutz, said.
B’Tselem’s video of the shooting in the West Bank in 2016 led to Israeli soldier Elor Azaria being convicted of manslaughter. He was released in May after serving two-thirds of his 14-month term. Opinion polls after his arrest showed a majority of Israelis did not want a court-martial to take place.