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U.A.E. convicts group over spoof documentary – World – CBC News

U.A.E. convicts group over spoof documentary – World – CBC News.

American convictedShezanne Cassim of Woodbury, Minn., was among eight people convicted under tougher measures governing internet use in the United Arab Emirates. (Associated Press/Courtesy Shervon Cassim) (The Associated Press)

A court in the United Arab Emirates sentenced eight people, including an unidentified Canadian, to up to a year in prison Monday after being convicted in connection to a satirical video about youth culture in Dubai.

The video they produced and uploaded to the internet — a spoof documentary of would-be “gangsta” youth in the Gulf Arab city-state.called Ultimate Combat System: The Deadly Satwa Gs — is set in the Satwa district of Dubai. It pokes fun at Dubai youth who styled themselves “gangstas” but are not particularly thuggish, and shows fictional “combat” training that includes throwing a sandal and using a mobile phone to call for help.

It opens with text saying the video is fictional and is not meant to offend.

The state-owned daily The National said they were accused of “defaming the image of United Arab Emirates society abroad.”

Supporters of the defendants reported that they were charged under a 2012 cyber-crimes law that tightened penalties for challenging authorities.

Shezanne Cassim, 29, from Woodbury, Minn., became the public face of the defendants after his family launched an effort to publicize his months-long incarceration following his arrest in April. Cassim, who was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Dubai for work after graduating from the University of Minnesota in 2006, was sentenced Monday to a year in prison followed by deportation and received a 10,000 dirham ($2,725 US) fine, according to family spokeswoman Jennifer Gore.

Cassim’s brother, Shervon, called the ruling “painful and unfair.”

“Shez is coming up on nine months incarceration for making a parody. This isn’t justice,” he said in a statement.

Canadian only identified by initials

Two Indian defendants received similar sentences, while two Emirati brothers were sentenced to eight months behind bars and received 5,000 dirham fines, according to The National. A third brother was pardoned.

Three other defendants — a Canadian, a Briton and an American — were convicted and sentenced in absentia to the penalties given to the other foreigners. They have never been detained by authorities and so are unlikely to serve their sentences. The paper identified the defendants only by their initials, which is common in the Emirati media.

Gulf Arab authorities have been cracking down on social media use over the past two years, with dozens of people arrested across the region for Twitter posts deemed offensive to leaders or for social media campaigns urging more political openness.


Saudi Arabia Passes Anti-Terror Law, Banning Defamation

Saudi Arabia Passes Anti-Terror Law

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet approved on Monday a new anti-terrorism draft law that criminalizes acts that disturb public order, defame the reputation of the state or threaten the kingdom’s unity, raising concerns by activists it could be used to quash political dissent.

A rights activist and a rights lawyer denounced the law as too broad, saying that besides terrorists, it targets civil society activists calling for democratic reforms. They spoke anonymously for fear of retribution. State-owned Saudi media released details of the law online after the Cabinet meeting, but the news outlets focused headlines on Cabinet decisions to increase government spending. News of the anti-terror law and its approval was marginalized. Al-Riyadh Net news website said the law was proposed by the Interior Ministry and reviewed by the advisory Shura Council. It reported that King Abdullah is preparing to issue a decree putting the law into effect. The Cabinet statement, carried by state media outlets, says the law will strike a balance between the risks of terrorist crimes and the protection of human rights. The statement then describes crimes of terrorism to include “disturbing public order, or undermining the security and stability of the nation, or exposing the nation’s unity to danger… or defaming the reputation of the state or its position.” In the past, Saudi women who got behind the wheel of a car were accused of disturbing public order for defying a driving ban imposed on females. One Saudi activist said this means women drivers can be tried under the anti-terror law, for example. Activists told The Associated Press the law was first drafted under the late Prince Nayef in 2011 when he was Interior Minister before his death a year later. A group of well-organized human rights campaigners in the kingdom were leaked a copy of the draft law and took to the Internet and social media to blast its broad wording. They also called on the prince to be removed from the line of succession for his role in overseeing torture and abuse of prisoners in Saudi jails. The law was quickly shelved at the time. Since then, at least 12 activists from that group known as the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association have been arrested. This year, the group’s top leaders Abdullah al-Hamid and Mohammed al-Qahtani, were sentenced up to 11 years in prison and slapped with lengthy travel bans after their release. The Saudi Council of Ministers is comprised of nearly two dozen members all appointed by King Abdullah. The meeting Monday was chaired by his likely successor, Crown Prince Salman, who is also deputy premier and the defense minister.

CORRECTION: An earlier image incorrectly identified the subject as King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. It has been replaced.



Worth Your Weight In Gold? | Zero Hedge

Worth Your Weight In Gold? | Zero Hedge.


WHO sounds warning on coronavirus strain – Europe – Al Jazeera English

WHO sounds warning on coronavirus strain – Europe – Al Jazeera English.


Coronavirus suspected cases hospitalized in France – Health – CBC News

Coronavirus suspected cases hospitalized in France – Health – CBC News.


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