BAGHDAD: A court in Baghdad has sentenced two Iraqis to prison time over “indecent” videos on social media that “undermine modesty and public morality”, the judiciary said Wednesday.
The interior ministry in the largely conservative country in January formed a committee tasked with monitoring social networks for content that goes against Iraqi society’s “morals and traditions”.
The misdemeanour court has handed YouTuber Hassan Sajamah a two-year prison term, while Om Fahad, who has a following of some 23,000 users on TikTok, has been sentenced to six months, Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council said in a statement.
According to the statement, both are accused of sharing on social media “several videos containing indecent speech that undermines modesty and public morality”.
Sajamah was sentenced on Wednesday and Om Fahad the day before, a judicial source told AFP.
In his videos, Sajamah stopped young people on the street and asked them personal questions, like whether they had ever received gifts from romantic partners or what they seek in an ideal partner.
Om Fahad has shared videos of herself dancing to Iraqi music while wearing tight-fitting clothes.
Interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan said in a televised interview on Tuesday that eight people had been detained so far over “immoral content”.
Speaking to Iraq’s Al Rasheed network, he defended the authorities’ latest push and brushed aside claims it restricts civil liberties.
“This has nothing to do with freedom of expression,” Maan said. “These misguided people do not represent Iraqis, Iraqi women or Iraqi society.”
He called on social media users to delete their “low-brow” material as a sign of “their good faith”.
Upon announcing the monitoring committee last month, the interior ministry also launched a platform allowing users to report content to the authorities.
According to Maan, more than 50,000 reports have been made on the government platform “in just a few days”.