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Facebook status lands man in court

Defendant could face seven-year imprisonment, Dh1m fine for blasphemy

Gulf News

Dubai: Prosecutors are seeking a seven-year imprisonment and a fine of Dh1 million against an employee who cursed the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and Islam on Facebook.

The 41-year-old Indian employee, S.G., was said to have posted a “blasphemous” status on his Facebook page in which he cursed the Prophet and Islam shortly after he watched the news about the war in Iraq last July on television.

When presiding judge Ezzat Abdul Lat called the suspect’s name to stand trial before the Dubai Court of First Instance on Monday, S.G. failed to show up.

Records said an Indian salesman, S.M., complained to the police that he received an image of the allegedly offensive Facebook status on WhatsApp at 5am.

According to the charge sheet, prosecutors said S.G. abused the social media network [Facebook] and the telecommunication system and cursed the Prophet and Islam.

Prosecutors have asked for the implementation of the toughest punishment applicable against the defendant, who breached the cybercrime law.

If found guilty, the suspect could face up to seven years in jail and/or a fine ranging between Dh250,000 and Dh1 million as per Article 35 of the UAE’s cybercrime law. The salesman testified to prosecutors that he received the image on his WhatsApp while he was at home.

“The image was about a Facebook status in which the Prophet and Islam were cursed. The name of the person who posted the status is S. G. I went to the nearest police station and complained thereafter,” he claimed to prosecutors.

Records said the suspect used his iPhone 5S to post the status on his Facebook page. The Apple device was also registered in the suspect’s name.

The defendant was cited admitting to prosecutors that he was the one who posted the status on Facebook.

S.G. was quoted alleging to prosecutors that after he watched video footage about the news in Iraq he posted the text.

Records said the defendant’s iPhone was seized and sent to Dubai Police’s forensic laboratory for examination.

Presiding judge Abdul Lat adjourned the case until the defendant is legally notified about the next hearing on April 27.

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