A 26-year-old Kuwaiti pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges he insulted the Prophet Mohammad and the Sunni Muslim rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on social media, the first day of a high-profile and divisive court case in the Gulf state.
Charges were brought by a civil plaintiff, who called for Shi’ite Muslim Hamad al-Naqi to be put to death, saying he must be made an example of to others. The case has stoked tensions between Kuwait’s Sunnis and minority Shi’ites.
Naqi’s lawyer asked for his client, who has been in prison since his arrest in March, to be released on bail. The judge declined the request and adjourned the trial until next week.
Sitting in a wooden and metal cage guarded by armed guards in black balaclavas at the start of the trial, a bearded, tired-looking Naqi sat quietly clasping his hands, occasionally rubbing the back of his shaved head and looking at the floor.