Gulf | Kuwait

Bahraini blogger remanded for blasphemous remarks

Teenager claims to have retaliated against insults by online users to Shiite figures

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 14:11 June 19, 2012
  • Gulf News

Manama A Bahraini blogger accused of posting abusive remarks targeting Aisha, the wife of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), has been remanded in custody for another 45 days.

The defendant, 19, was arrested last week for posting the “highly negative comments” in a forum.

Explaining the reasons for the arrest, Ali Al Buainain, the public prosecutor, said that the defendant had a history of using a specific forum to post blasphemous remarks and whenever he was ejected, he registered under a different pseudonym and continued publishing unacceptable claims.

The defendant admitted the charges, saying that his attitude was in retaliation to alleged insults by online users to Shiite figures.

Call for stringent penalty

News of the blogger’s arrest prompted several religious groups to push for the introduction of more stringent punishment for people who targeted Islamic icons.

“The competent authorities should apply the maximum penalty against him to ensure there is no repeat of attacks on the Prophet or his family or companions,” Khalid Al Malood, a lawmaker in the lower chamber, said. “We need to ensure that our society is genuinely protected from any form of sedition and this can be done by carrying out the maximum penalty,” he said.

Al Asala, the exclusive expression of Salafism in Bahrain, last month introduced a bill that stipulates the death penalty or life in prison for anyone found guilty of insulting God or abusing the Prophet, his wife Aisha, or his companions.

Al Asala said that the harsher legal measures were needed to confront the “alarmingly rising number of people who use social networks and microblogs to target the Prophet and his family and companions.”

“This is happening because the legal action is weak and the competent authorities have failed to assume their religious and legal responsibilities,” the society said.

Blasphemy case in Kuwait

In neighbouring Kuwait on June 4, Hamad Al Naqi was sentenced to 10 years in prison for posting remarks that were deemed blasphemous.

The 26-year-old Kuwaiti was found guilty of harming Kuwait’s interests with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, two fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

The charges were based on a number of tweets made from his account, but Al Naqi said that it had been hacked.

Kuwait’s parliament, dominated by tribesmen and Islamists, has passed a bill stipulating the death penalty for insulting God or the Prophet. However, the bill, which needs to be endorsed by the Emir before it can be implemented, has been returned to the lawmakers.

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