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Blogger sentenced to 10 years for abusive posts

Tweets on two different accounts denigrated and insulted political regimes

Gulf News

Manama: A Kuwaiti court on Monday sentenced a blogger to 10 years in prison for allegedly insulting Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), his wife Aisha and some of his companions and for harming Kuwait’s interests by targeting other countries in the region.

According to the case papers, Hamad Al Naqi posted, between February 5 and March 27, comments and tweets that insulted Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), his companions Abu Baqer, the first Caliph, and Omar, the second caliph, and his wife Aisha. The insults were likely to stoke sedition within the community and mobilise segments alongside sectarian lines, the prosecutor said.

The tweets, on two different accounts, denigrated and insulted the political regimes in two Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and could undermine Kuwait’s national interests, the court heard, Al Aan news site reported.

Al Naqi was also charged with posting remarks that denigrated Islam as a religion, ridiculed its beliefs and teachings and scorned its iconic figures.

The 26-year-old defendant who was also accused of using his mobile to post abusive remarks, has pleaded not guilty to the charges and that his account had been hacked.

Al Naqi was arrested in March and his case deeply divided the nation’s views on the use of social networks.

Several lawmakers have called for his death for insulting God, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and the prophet’s wife and companions while others defended him as someone who expressed his views freely.

Comments posted after the announcement of the verdict indicated that the debate would gain in intensity as religious and non-religious arguments seemed to stiffen.

Although sectarian tension is not deep in Kuwait, several cases have recently resulted in standoffs between the two main sects.

The parliament, dominated by Islamist and tribal representatives, has passed an anti-blasphemy draft law that stipulates the death penalty for anyone found guilty of insulting God, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) or his companions or relatives. However, the draft has not been endorsed by the Emir and reports have emerged that it could be returned to the lawmakers.