An Emirati man has been fined Dhs250,000 and sentenced to three months in jail because he insulted his brother on Instagram.
The incident was reported by the victim to Khor Fakkan Police. He claimed to have posted a picture on Instagram only to later find that his brother had left an insulting, one-word comment on it.
The victim was questioned by the police, who denied writing the comment himself. Yet later it came to light that the comment had been written by the man’s younger brother.
The alleged culprit denied the claims that he had written the comment before the Khor Fakkan Court of Misdemeanors. However, he confessed in a record of statements, citing personal disagreements with his brother, according to Aletihad.
The punishment for leaving the comment? A hefty Dhs250,000 and three months in jail.
The defendant is trying to appeal the court’s decision of handing him a prison sentence, the case of which will be heard on July 19.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of huge penalties for insulting people over social media in the UAE.
Back in April, an Emirati woman was fined Dhs500,000 for cursing her uncle and the historic Muslim scholar Yazid bin Muawiya via WhatsApp.
Another man was jailed for three years for insulting the UAE via the messenger app. According to state news agency WAM, the man allegedly ridiculed Emirati martyrs in Yemen via WhatsApp, describing them as ‘cowards’.
As a result, he received a Dhs50,000 fine, three years imprisonment and deportation after completing his sentence.
So what are the laws? Anyone in the UAE caught swearing on WhatsApp can land a fine of up to Dhs250,000 or prison time.
This applies even to tourists, who can face deportation if found to be in breach of the law.
The new laws were brought to light following a court case at the Federal Supreme Court, where a retrial was ordered on a case that involved a man being convicted of swearing at a colleague via WhatsApp.
The initial imposed fine of Dhs3,000 was considered too lenient, so prosecutors appealed the verdict, demanding he faced a fine of up to Dhs250,000 or jail.
According to the Telegraph, legal experts have warned UAE residents and tourists that using the middle finger emoji could also “earn you a spell in jail of up to three years or a hefty fine of up to Dhs500,000 as the gesture is illegal in the UAE.”
However, criminal defence lawyer Abdullah Yousef Al Nasir mentioned that in order to act upon people using offensive language or emojis on social media, they’d need to receive a complaint from the person receiving the message.