Saudi residents spreading ‘fake news’ face five years’ jail

Saudi Public Prosecution Office warn against spreading rumors and misinformation. (AP)
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Updated 03 May 2020

Saudi residents spreading ‘fake news’ face five years’ jail

  • Saudi Public Prosecution Office took to social media to warn users about the consequences of spreading rumors and misinformation

JEDDAH: Saudis and expats who spread rumors on social media could be jailed for up to five years and fined SR3 million ($800,000) under measures to counter false information regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

The move follows warnings by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior, General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques and other government entities that people should rely on trusted news sources and not third parties for information on the Kingdom’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Saudi Public Prosecutor warned that legal action will be taken against individuals who spread misinformation and rumors.

On Saturday, media spokesman for the Riyadh region police, Col. Shakir Al-Tuwaijri, highlighted a video circulating on social media in which a person spreads rumors about steps taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

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Other false claims include a planned change in curfew hours, warnings of food shortages, and a suggestion that health authorities are deliberately concealing the number of cases in the Kingdom.

In a recent case, a Riyadh resident claimed to know when worshippers will be allowed to return to the Grand Mosque.

All suspects have been arrested and face legal action, police said.

Dimah Al-Sharif, a Saudi legal counsel and member of the International Association of Lawyers, urged people to be responsible regarding content they access on social media.

“Receivers should not save such content or share it with others, and should delete it if possible since they, too, will be liable,” she said.

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Individuals who breach regulations can be jailed for up to five years and face fines of SR3 million, as well as confiscation of the device(s) used in the crime.

“Under Saudi laws to counter cyber-crime, we are not allowed to produce, prepare, send or save any unauthorized content or rumors.”

Individuals who breach regulations can be jailed for up to five years and face fines of SR3 million, as well as confiscation of the device(s) used in the crime, she said.

In addition, the judicial ruling will be published in newspapers at the offender’s expense.

The Kingdom’s Public Prosecution Office took to social media to warn users about the consequences of spreading rumors and misinformation.

@bip_ksa tweeted: “Receiving information from its official sources is a moral obligation and commitment, and legal responsibility. Do not fall victim to malicious rumors and news from anonymous sources that violate the procedures and effort, and cause terror regarding the Coronavirus, in order to avoid strict criminal accountability in this regard.”

 


Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. The 86-year-old is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. (Supplied)
Updated 15 August 2020

Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

  • The Syrian Qur’an writer, regarded as one of the world’s finest calligraphers, is on the road to recovery following his recent hospital admission

MAKKAH: Syrian calligrapher Uthman Taha is in good health and recovering at home after a 13-day stay in a hospital where he was treated for what he and his wife initially suspected to be the novel coronavirus COVID-19, although he ultimately tested negative for the virus.

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. His wife, Fatimah Umm Al-Nour, said Taha had a chest infection during his stay at the hospital and stressed that he had been “careful and took all the precautionary measures” and that he had not left the house for five months before his hospital visit.
The 86-year-old calligrapher is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. She praised his doctors, who have consistently checked in with the couple since Taha returned home, and added that she has tested negative for COVID-19 too.
Taha is regarded as one of the most skilled calligraphers in the Arab world. Al-Nour told Arab News that he continues to practice calligraphy daily.
Taha, who has written the Qur’an 12 times at the King Fahd Complex, was born in 1934 and attended school in Aleppo. His father was also a skilled calligrapher, who used the Ruq’ah script, and Taha studied with several of Syria’s finest calligraphers including Mohammed Al-Mawlawi, Mohammed Al-Khatib, Hussein Al-Turki, and Ibrahim Al-Rifai.
When he moved to Damascus for university, Taha began to learn other scripts, including Thuluth, Naskh (in which he is now considered a master), and Farsi. He received his calligraphy certificate from master calligrapher Hamed Al-Amadi in 1973.
He arrived in Saudi Arabia in 1988, and began work as a calligrapher at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. He writes the Qur’an in the Ottoman script, and copies of his work have been distributed throughout the Islamic world.
What makes Taha’s work unique is that each page of the Qur’an that he writes concludes at the end of a verse. The secret, he explains, is to simplify the words — which is the origin of the Kufic script in which the Qur’an has been written since the days of Prophet Muhammad’s companions — keeping the letters close to one another.
Taha spent years perfecting his technique of evenly distributing the words in every line so that the space between the lettering is consistent throughout every page of every book, which means eliminating many of the script combinations that make such consistency difficult.
He explained to Arab News that when he is working on his Qur’an calligraphy he is transported: “When I begin writing the Holy Qur’an, I resort to solitude to allow myself to be invested in the verses and their interpretation, forgetting about the world around me,” he said. “I wish the verses about Jannah (heaven) would never end, and my hand trembles when I write the verses about Jahannam (hell).”