Kuwait: Twitter user imprisoned for five years for ‘insulting’ Muhammad

A Kuwaiti man has been sentenced to five years in prison for a Twitter comment reportedly insulting the prophet Muhammad. 

Musab Shamsah was arrested by local police in May for posting on his Twitter account that Hassan and Hussein, the sons of Muhammad’s cousin, Ali, were more honest than Muhammad himself. He received a sentence of one-year imprisonment for mocking religion under article 11 of the penal code, and an extra four years for violating the 2012 National Unity Law for publishing content that could be deemed offensive to religious “sects” or groups.

Shamsah pleaded not guilty to all charges during his hearing on 18 November at the Kuwaiti Court of First Instance, arguing that his tweet had been misinterpreted by prosecutors. The tweet was deleted 10 minutes after it was published, with Shamsah following it up with two clarifying messages.

Human Rights Watch has condemned the sentence imposed on Shamsah, imploring that Kuwaiti prosecutors should stop detaining people for their peaceful expression of religious, political, or other views.

“It’s an insult to all Kuwaitis for the government to give itself the authority to decide what’s insulting to religion, and to jail Kuwaitis for it,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Let each Kuwaiti decide what he or she finds insulting, and as simple as clicking ‘unfollow,’ decide whether they want to see or hear a message.”

Shamsah’s lawyer will file for an appeal on 20 November.

Eerlier this week as an Emirati activist was handed down a two-year jail sentence for tweeting.

This article was originally posted on 21 Nov 2013 at indexoncensorship.org