Earlier this month, on August 8th, Mohamed Rashed al-Shohhi, an online forum administrator in the Emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah (UAE) has been sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of nearly US$ 13,600 (Dh50,000) for content deemed defamatory published by anonymous on the popular forum board he moderated majan.net (suspended).
It has also been reported that the department of e-government services managed to access the forum’s control panel looking for registrants email addresses. And it seems that this has led to the arrest, on August 19th, of a forum registrant, Khaled El Asli.
mmmmmm .. Did I read this right? Was the dude sentenced to a year in PRISON for a comment published by an anonymous reader on his site? Was he fined $13,500 because some moron spoke his mind, with total disregard to the consequences the site administrator was likely to face? What type of irresponsible behaviour is this? And what message is the Emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah sending out by ensuring that Shohhi received the most severe punishment in the UAE online publications penal code?
Once again what does all this mean to all of us? Can an idiot post a comment on this blog and if I fail to see it for whatever reason.. I would get into trouble with the authorities? And I am not talking about normal trouble -- I am talking about jail and a fine and other repercussions that can effect my livelihood and career in a region of the world where mainstream media publishers drool to get the nod of approval of officials!!?
Also .. what does this ruling mean taking the new Syrian decree which enforces people to sign their real names when commenting on news sites? And where does it fall when taking the fact that Kuwait yesterday released a blogger who was detained for a comment someone left on his site?
Is there a plan to further curb freedom of expression in the region which has been approved at an Arab Summit we the citizens have not heard of?
But then.. we aren't really citizens.. We are merely subjects in countries which refuse to accept that as humans being able to articulate our thoughts is simply a human right. We the children of Arabia..shssssssh .. pardon me.. I can't write more.. I have a family which worries sick about me.. and my insistence to swim against the tide and simply speak my silly mind :)