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Tue 28 Apr 2015 02:02 PM

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US man jailed in UAE for posting parody video seeks compensation

Shezanne Cassim also seeks pardon after being jailed in the UAE for 9 months for posting video on YouTube

US man jailed in UAE for posting parody video seeks compensation

An American citizen who was jailed in the UAE for nine months for posting a parody video on YouTube is seeking a pardon and compensation.

Shezanne Cassim, of Woodbury, Minnesota, who grew up in the UAE, told Associated Press that the conviction is making it difficult for him to get a job because he now has a criminal record. He said he has to explain that he spent time prison because he violated the UAE’s national security.

In an effort to improve his job prospects, Cassim has sent a letter to UAE President, Sheikh Khalifa
bin Zayed Al Nahyan, outlining how his time in prison in Abu Dhabi has destroyed his career and caused severe financial hardship to his family when they attempted to secure his release. The letter was also sent to Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE’s Ambassador to the United States.

Cassim was sentenced to a year in prison in December 2013 over a 20-minute "mockumentary" video which poked fun at young Emirati men who imitate US hip hop culture.

In the video posted on YouTube in 2012, Emirati men jokingly described as "deadly gangsters" could be seen practising throwing sandals and wielding an agal - the cord used to keep in place traditional Arab headscarves.

The video opened with a disclaimer stating it is fictional and does not intend to offend the people of the UAE.

Cassim, an aviation business consultant, was charged with violating the Gulf nation's cyber-crime law which makes acts deemed damaging to the country's reputation or national security punishable by jail time and heavy fines. As well as the jail term, Cassim was also fined AED10,000 ($2,700). Seven others also were convicted and sentenced.

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