Social Media Criminal Cases in United Arab Emirates
Instances of criminal cases being performed via the social media have been witnessed severally in the United Arab Emirates over the recent past. They include parody videos’ posts on YouTube, speculative prejudice and corruption posts against superior police officers on Twitter and individuals insulting one another on the social media more so on Twitter (Baggili 137). There are individuals who have also been charged after being arrested for insulting rulers in UAE as well as using the social media platforms such as the Twitter and Facebook to endanger the national security.
Due to these criminal cases, the country has experienced increasing unrest which has prompted the UAE government to establish defamation laws in order to prevent people from posting or publishing statements that could affect the dignity of other people negatively or right-thinking society members’ estimation of the affected persons (Bunt 49). As such, some of the criminal cases perpetrated through the social media in the past years in UAE will be discussed in this paper.
According to this site, the United Arab Emirates arrested ShezanneCassim in 2012 and sentenced him to a one-year imprisonment on the basis of a parody video that he posted on YouTube. This video mocked the fake ‘gangster’ sub-culture in Dubai. The video mocked the culture of the youth. In addition to the one-year sentence, he was required to pay a fine of 10,000 dirham ($2,725) and he was also to be deported. According to the laws of the UAE, Cassim defamed the state and according to the federal publishing and publications law article 72, individuals are not allowed to publish opinions that violate public orders and disciplines or if teenagers’ insults are involved in them or a call for any form of subversive ideas. Cassim’s video was in violation of this article because it mocked the lifestyle of the youth.
Additionally, the video may have influenced or provoked the thinking of the youths causing a change in their actions or behavior as per their comprehension of the message that the video conveyed. Cassim also violated article 373. This article mentions what is defamation within the UAE. By posting this video, Cassim humiliated young people as well as their lifestyle to the people of this country and across the world. This degraded the perception that other people have for the youths in this country. As per article 373, Cassim should have been fined a maximum of 10,000 AED and imprisoned for one year (FreeSpeechDebate 35). Additionally, the laws of the UAE can assist in preventing similar occurrences in the future by properly using relevant authority in the implementation of the set policies and laws that address similar crimes.
After living and working in UAE for 4 years, Mr. Cassim ought to have known about the law better and therefore avoid posting this video. Cassim must have known the defamation acts and laws that govern UAE. However, he opted to disregard the moral code of the country that hosted him. Just like it is the case for other countries and states which have laws that people are expected to adhere to even if they disagree or agree with, it was fair for Cassim to be punished by the UAE because this was as per the established laws. Currently, the UAE is trying its best to deal with such crimes. Therefore, the reoccurrence of cybercrimes of that nature will be decreased by tightening the rules further as well as the introduction of security steps for preventing individuals from posting that kind of videos in this state or country.
There are recent cases that involved a person posting speculative prejudice and corruption allegations against a superior police officer on Twitter. A superior official within UAE, Scott Davies has supported this. Davis strongly opposes defamation through the social media. The person who posted corruption allegations against the police offer violated article 373 of the law of UAE by defaming a person vial publicity. This defamation was worse because it targeted a government official and this disgraced government officials. The person who posted the allegations made false accusations without a witness or necessary evidence for supporting them and this is a crime within UAE.
As such, the accused person ought to face the necessary punishment according the country’s laws. Any person that makes a false accusation not just in UAE against another individual without relevant facts for supporting the accusation ought to be punished as per the country’s law because the accusations tarnish the family, image, career and social life of the individual that is targeted by the accusations (Matthews 371).
Another case involved several people who were charged after being arrested for insulting each other via Twitter. In 2013 for instance, police in Dubai closed 15 Twitter or Facebook accounts because the accounts were considered as insults platforms that defamed some citizens. There were citizens who were charged after being arrested for abusing social media’s use as well as violating the values, principles and morals that govern the states and families in UAE. According to UAE laws, using offensive words portrays the nation as immoral and this tarnishes its image, the government and the citizens. These individuals violated article 372 and 72 by publishing words that were offensive and likely to raise violent behavior and anger of other public members.
Each of them faced a 10,000 dirham fine and 2-years imprisonment as well as having their social media accounts taken down by police officials immediately. The social media should not be used negatively by abusing other people verbally simply because a person disagrees with the viewpoints of others on matters that are being discussed. Taking such an action against defendants serves as a good lesson for other state members and a warning against participating in such acts as well as using offensive, indiscipline and vulgar words on social media or publicly (Permohammed 57).
Ahmed Mansour, a UAE blogger and four others were involved in a trial for six months for insulting rulers in UAE as well as posing danger to the national security. Ahmed was imprisoned for three years and the other activists were imprisoned for two years without appeal. They demanded political change within UAE and signed a written petition. They also demanded parliamentary and constitutional changes as well as fair and free election. Ahmed offered a platform online that allowed people with views that opposed the government to express them. Ahmed and the other defendants used this platform to express negative opinions of the officials in the government. As per the laws of UAE, these people committed defamation via libel. This is because they tarnished and criticized works and character of their government through written information and statements. They violated article 70. This article emphasizes that nobody is allowed to express criticism of the UAE leader.
Additionally, they violated article 372 that requires individuals who defame others via publication to face an imprisonment of two years and a 20,000 dirham fine at the maximum. These rules have been established by the UAE government to restrict speech freedom and expression democracy. However, this is not right because the country’s citizens have the right to highlight injustices and unfair acts of their leaders. It is wrong to consider democracy a crime. Instead, democracy should be considered as a weapon that the state leader and the government can use in listening to the citizens in order to enhance service delivery in their country. As such, social media has been used in UAE to endanger political environment and security. UAE laws ought to be amended in order to allow for arresting and charging of everybody who proves to threaten national security (Permohammed 57).
Dangour, a Sudanese rapper’s case does not differ from those discussed above. Dangour was arrested and sentenced to a two years imprisonment in 2011 after posting his video as he rap about drugs and violence. Dangour was considered as causing unrest among the public as well as involving the youths and teens in drug abuse and violence because he was rapping about the same. This would eventually lead to chaos among the youths and teens. He was accused of slander defamation for spreading information that was considered wrong to the public and this was likely to influence thoughts and ideology of young people within UAE (Shanno 371).
Dangour’s act was in violation of article 72 of UAE laws. Through this video, the rapper might or would have called upon the public or teens who may have watched the video’s content to embrace subversive ideas. Similar to Cassim, Dangour knew the regulations and rules that govern this country but he opted to act against them. As such, it was fair to punish him accordingly. By arresting individuals who commit such crimes immediately, UAE laws can assist in preventing crimes of individuals positing videos on drugs and violence in the future.
To sum it all up, several crimes committed through the social media can cause defamation. There is an integral role that the social media play in enabling the UAE citizens to participate in public debates and discussions. The social media is usually used by speakers to pass information and ideas to the mass audiences that they choose quickly and even establish associations in order to accomplish vital political and social goals. Social media is mainly used by the UAE citizens more often because it allows mass communication at once. Through social media discussions, users can mention other people’s name in order to degrade their dignity. They can also do so in order to change how they are perceived by the public. Additionally, UAE government has been very strict about defamation issues.
Therefore, several people have been charged after being arrested for defamation offenses. This clearly indicates the way UAE media law remains strict in order to prevent crimes that are committed through the social media. As such, to avoid been charged, young people should know UAE defamation laws clearly. Civic education is among the ways that can be used to create awareness of such laws as well as using mass media that includes radio, social media and television in communicating information about these laws to young people. This way, crimes that are committed via the social media by the young people will record a significant decrease (The World Post 125).
FreeSpeech Debate. “Ahmed Mansoor on blogging his way into UAE prison”.2013. Print. Available online at: http://freespeechdebate.com/en/media/ahmed-mansoor-on-blogging-his-way-into-a-uae-prison/
Matthews, Alfred W. World Religions. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2013, p 371. Print.Available online at: http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/rappers-have-beef-with-arrested-colleague-dangour
Permohammed, Shireen. Protecting Brands Online. London: European Lawyer, 2012, p 125. Print. Available online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/31/world/middleeast/united-arab-emirates-step-up-efforts-to-counter-dissent.html?_r=0
Shannon, Hawthorne. “Cyber Risk”. 2012. Print. Available online at: http://www.insurancemena.com/tag/defamation/
The World Post. “Shezanne Cassim America Held in UAE Over Parody Video, To be Released. 2014. Print. Available online at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/07/shezanne-cassim-release_n_4557352.html