FaithWorld

Kuwaiti man gets 10 years in jail for Twitter blasphemy he denies

A Kuwaiti man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison  after he was convicted of endangering state security by insulting the Prophet Mohammad and the Sunni Muslim rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on social media. Shi’ite Muslim Hamad al-Naqi pleaded innocent at the start of the trial last month, saying he did not post the messages and that his Twitter account had been hacked.

The written verdict, delivered by Judge Hisham Abdullah on Monday, found Naqi guilty of all charges, a court secretary told Reuters. The sentence was the maximum that 26-year-old Naqi could have received, his lawyer Khaled al-Shatti said.

The judge found him guilty of insulting the Prophet, the Prophet’s wife and companions, mocking Islam, provoking sectarian tensions, insulting the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and misusing his mobile phone to spread the comments.

“The prison sentence is long but we have the chance to appeal,” Shatti said. Under Kuwaiti law, the defense can file an appeal within 20 days of the verdict and jail sentences have been reduced in the past for similar convictions.

The civil plaintiff arguing the case against Naqi, as well as some Kuwaiti politicians, had called for Naqi to be executed in a case that stoked sectarian tensions in the Gulf state. “This verdict is a deterrent to those who insult the Prophet Mohammad, his companions and the mothers of the believers,” civil plaintiff Dowaem al-Mowazry said in a text message. He had argued in court that Naqi must be made an example of.

Kuwait arrests man said to blaspheme Prophet Mohammad via Twitter

(A man uses his mobile phone March 29, 2010. REUTERS/Jorge Silva)

Kuwaiti authorities arrested a man late on Tuesday for insulting the Prophet Mohammad via his Twitter account, the Interior Ministry said, in a rare case of alleged blasphemy in the Gulf Arab state using social media.

Blasphemy is illegal in Kuwait under the 1961 press and publications law, but it is not punishable by death as in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, where the case of a columnist facing similar accusations has drawn international attention.

The man, whose name was not disclosed, defamed the Islamic faith and slandered the Prophet Mohammad, his companions and his wife, the ministry said in a statement issued on state-run news agency KUNA. He is being interrogated ahead of court proceedings.