By Staff writer
Social media comments posted after Indian expat reportedly viewed video about conflict in Iraq
A 41-year-old expat is facing charges of insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) on social networking site Facebook.
The Indian man reportedly admitted to posting the insults through his conversations and posts on Facebook during the police investigation. The posts were made after the man watched a video clip about the conflicts in Iraq, according to UAE media reports.
A 24-year-old vendor made a complaint to Al Rafaa police station, after he received a WhatsApp message on July last year.
“The message said there was a post on Facebook that insulted Islam. The message also included a picture clicked of the post and the account user,” the complainant said in the prosecution investigation.
The insults were reportedly posted on Facebook through the defendant’s iPhone, which was seized and sent to Dubai Police’s criminal lab.
Judge Ezzat Mansour adjourned the case until next month. If convicted, the defendant could face up to seven years jail and deportation.
People may feel hurt when their personal beliefs are criticized or ridiculed, but without the freedom to do so then beliefs can never be held to account or scrutinized for veracity, and without that then beliefs do no evolve or adapt, which is the sign of a progressive society. Of course there is a big difference between criticism and encouraging people to go out and commit violence, but Islamic states must not be afraid of criticism and not resort to the threat of incarceration to smother critical comment; it only makes such countries look weak before the rest of the world.
John, you confuse so many things in your post that I don't know where to start with. Amongst others, you confuse legitimate criticism with sheer insult. Freedom of mind and speech does not mean that one can ridicule the dignity of people and their beliefs. It reminds me of the discussion in Europe on the Charlie "cartoons" about the Prophet (peace be upon him). It was offensive, insulting, extremely tasteless. What has this to do with veracity? How do you incite a discussion and contribute on progression of a society with vulgar and barbaric depictions? Even more annoying, the so-called liberal Western world is far from allowing the freedom of speech that you imply. I can quote and prove countless examples but that is not the topic here.
@Irbis - the 'discussion' on the Charlie cartoons? As I recall, there was no discussion, just some psychopaths who felt it was perfectly acceptable to slaughter men and women (including a Muslim) for either drawing silly pictures or trying to protect the public.
The fact is that freedom of speech does not guarantee the right to not be offended or insulted. I put it to you that while ridicule is unpleasant and insulting, the unpleasantness and insult is relatively minor compared to the pain and misery caused by murdering people.
Besides, surely if your belief is in the supreme creator of the universe, all-knowing, all-powerful etc.....do you really think that creator is going to be bothered by words or doodlings of some puny human being?
@ John Harte. This was not a simple case of ridicule, this was an incitement to religious hatred, and that, old sport, is punishable by law in most countries of the world.
@WHJ - actually, we don't know what the content of these posts are, so it is a bit of a stretch to declare that this was a specific incitement to religious hatred. Given the defendant is being charged with 'insulting Islam' rather than 'inciting religious hatred', I would be cautious about leaping to conclusions either way.
@Doug. Public insults, defamation and a public expression which disparages or denigrates a religion is an incitement to religious hatred.
@WHJ, no actually it is not. It is kind of tiring that you need to redefine words to suit your needs.
Calling to destroy the places of worship, or kill the people of a given fait it is an incitement to religious hatred.
Calling people idiots it is not.
Deal with it.
@ Doug Thank you for your comment. In my view, you draw the wrong conclusions from my statement.
1) "Discussion" refers to the aftermath of the murders, not what led to the murders. People expressed their sympathy with the authors by the famous tag "Je suis Charlie". Please get me clear, there is NO way I excuse or defend the vicious murders. But that is not the point here. The point here is that the tasteless, contemptible actions by the cartoonists were defended by many people. I rather say "Je ne suis pas Charlie, je suis pour respect" (pls excuse my poor French).
2) I agree with what you write in your second paragraph, and I did not state the opposite. However, please bear in mind that in the Western world, the freedom of speech is not guaranteed. Try to criticize Israel, and you are called an Anti-Semite. Are you seriously doubting the influence of media, lobbying etc on individual perceptions?
3) I agree with what you write in your third paragraph. Did I say something else?
@WHJ - in that case then, you are effectively defining any public questioning or criticism of a religion as 'inciting religious hatred'.
This view is NOT supported by law in most countries of the world and before you bring up the inevitable "ah, well, I'm talking about UAE law", may I remind you that it was you who decided to introduce the rest of the world as a benchmark.
As you should have learned from the last 'what does this word mean' debate we had when we were talking about terrorism, you can't just move the goalposts for what a word means depending on your personal whim.
And again, you seem to be making a lot of assumptions about the content involved here when you haven't even seen it. Of course, where this gets interesting is if a private conversation on WhatsApp is considered a public insult....
@Doug. Once you've read the article, you'll realise that the accused has actually confessed to posting the insults. So, here we have the defendant admitting he insulted a religion and yet you insist it was mere criticism, and based on this premise you build an argument. And then you claim I'm making assumptions!
If, however, you wish to go beyond the realm of facts mentioned in the article and deny that these were indeed insults then you must be privy to information we don't have.
@Telco. I'm sorry, but I still don't think your posts are worth a reply.