Facing a prison sentence as a result of statements made on Twitter seems to have become the norm in Kuwait.
Today, reports have emerged that Mohammad al-Mulaifi was detained by the Kuwaiti secret police over a week ago, with the public prosecutor detaining him for 21 days pending investigation. Al-Mulaifi has been accused of insulting the Muslim Shi’ite minority, which in al-Bathali’s case led to a three year prison sentence.
While al-Bathali was ordered to serve 3 years in prison, for insulting the Shi’ite sect and threatening national unity, his sentence was later commuted to six months. He has since been released and is once again active on Twitter. In the case of Nasser Abul, he spent 3 months in prison for criticizing the Bahraini and Saudi royal families on Twitter.
According to al-Mulaifi’s lawyer, the charges are similar to those that al-Bathali faced – insulting the Shi’ite faith, as well as spreading false news and undermining Kuwait’s image. His lawyer added that al-Mulaifi denied the charges.
Twitter has become something of a minefield in the Middle East. While tweeters have served prison sentences, Saudi Journalist Hamza Kashgari could be facing a far more serious sentence due to statements he made on Twitter. The Saudi journalist fled the country, fearing for his life, after a series of poetic tweets he posted were deemed blasphemous. Amidst public outcry, Kashgari was deported from Malaysia, and sent home, where he could face the death sentence.
Kashgari’s fate remains unknown, with the writer still detained. He has reportedly ‘repented’ for his tweets, while human rights lawyer Abdulrahman Allahem has taken on his case.
Like Kashgari, al-Mulaifi has apologized for his statements, while some of his critics are calling for the revocation of his Kuwaiti citizenship.