U.S. Citizen Released From U.A.E Prison After Conviction For Posting Satire Online

By Darren Smith, Guest Blogger

Emblem of UAEShezanne Cassim of Woodbury, MN returned home from the United Arab Emirates after spending nine months in prison in Dubai for posting a documentary-style video, titled “Ultimate Combat System: The Deadly Satwa Gs,” which is set in the Satwa district of Dubai. It opens with text saying the video is fictional and is not intended to offend. The video pokes fun at Dubai youth who style themselves like “gangstas” and shows fictional “combat” training that includes throwing a sandal and using a mobile phone to call for help. Authorities evidently took great exception to this expression, arrested Cassim and later placed him into a maximum security prison. The arrest took place in April of 2013 and it was months before he and several co-defendants were informed of the charges. A state controlled newspaper stated he was accused of defaming the country’s image abroad. Cassim’s supporters stated he was eventually convicted of violating a 2012 Cybercrimes law prohibiting challenging of authorities.

He and seven others were convicted in December of 2013. Cassim was sentenced to one year in prison, a fine and deportation. The U.S. State Department said he got credit for time served and was given time off for good behavior.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who advocated for Cassim’s release, spoke to Cassim by phone after his arrival and welcomed him home. She said his return was “long overdue.”

“This guy has been waiting nine months for doing nothing but posting a joke video,” Klobuchar told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday. “It was simply a parody video poking fun at teenagers in the suburbs.”

Cassim told reporters “I was tried in a textbook kangaroo court, and I was convicted without any evidence. So to me, this verdict is meaningless,” He commented that UAE was “Scared of Democracy” and that the government used his case to send a message:
“Imagine if you do something that’s actually critical of the government,” he said. “It’s a warning message. And we’re scapegoats.”

The incident goes a long way to describe the situation in the region with regard to dissenting views or any form of speech the government or individuals in high office object to. It further shows how arbitrary the application of arrest spurred by ambiguous laws that serve to silence those who it deems a threat: and who are guilty of nothing more than what is considered ordinary in most western countries.

Komo News

30 thoughts on “U.S. Citizen Released From U.A.E Prison After Conviction For Posting Satire Online

  1. And yet Booze Allen was allowed to sell the NSA complete package to the UAE for millions and American universities are streaming in to suck up the money. What a world, what a world.

  2. Freedom of speech never existed there and still does not. I fully understand why corporations love the place since it is the perfect corporate state, fascism.

  3. DEFAMING DUBAI’S IMAGE ABROAD is precisely what Dubai’s government did by arresting & posing these charges!

  4. Dubai wants to be a cool tourist place….. Well, Take Western Advice! Cut the intollerance bs! They could spend a trillion dollars a day on the place & it won’t be as cool as London, New York or Paris if its unsafe to go there!

  5. I have a Filipina friend there. She spends her free time chatting on the computer abroad & back to her country because a woman can do nothing outside her residence except under command of a man; heaven forbid she should enjoy herself! She can’t wait to get back to the Philippines this Spring.

  6. This country has a gambling..err, gaming industry that has exploded in the past decade w/ all the major gaming industry companies having a presence there. It sure isn’t Vegas where everything and anything goes.

  7. Raff.

    Freedom of speech…. Ours is only limited to what is not considered a breach of security…. Or offensive to the folks in power….

  8. Saw this story on Fox News where they played some of the video that Cassim had made. This is truly unbelievable. The U.A.E. shot itself in the foot and brought disgrace upon itself by prosecuting this young man. Ironic how they committed the same offense for which they had prosecuted and sentenced this young man. If they had left it alone, none of us would be thinking how tyrannical they U.A.E. is. We would just be thinking about how wealthy they are. What a great reminder about how great the United States of America is for the establishment of principles of freedom and liberty. I love our country. God bless America!

  9. Common sense has a great point and asks a great question. If academics can urge a boycott of relations with Israeli universities while allowing the same relations in the UAE, it destroys any argument that such folks have for the Israeli boycott. I have changed my mind on this subject since I have found that the UAE puts people in prison for such a slight bit of freedom of speech issue on the internet no less! Until all US universities apply the same standards in Muslim countries that they demand of Israel, I am against any boycott by them of Israeli universities.

  10. (chorus):

    Jingo bells, jingo bells,
    Jingoism all the way.
    Oh! what fun it is to hide
    In a war-horse open slay.

    a la:

    jingo: a person who professes his or her patriotism loudly and excessively, favoring vigilant preparedness for war and an aggressive foreign policy; bellicose chauvinist.

  11. Bruce

    Dredd. The lefties under obummer have abused the rights of more citizens than the right
    Thank you for your opinion. It is equal to the opposite opinion.

    That leaves us with what?

  12. Dredd I don’t believe in an aggressive foreign policy, if it was up to me I would pull out of Afghanistan, Korea etc. and use the troops to secure out borders, I would also remove the U.N. out of the United States to wherever.

  13. This initial place called the U.A.E. is a Pirate Territory. The hierarchy is as follows:
    1. Democratic or autocratic nation state that respects the International Human Rights Law. The United States, Europe up to the old communist wall.

    2. Autocratic states which have rule of law but the laws are tyrannical such as Russia, China.

    3. Poser nation states with governments which do not respect rule of law. Piracy may be active.

    4. Territories with little semblance of governance where piracy is active. Ships off the coast are not safe. People on land are not safe.

    With regard to Pirate Territories, Americans should be warned to not go in on land or nearby on sea and if they do that they are on their own. No trading. No so called citizens of Pirate Territories can enter the U.S.

    India is a special case. They send a diplomat over to the U.S. and she keeps a human in slavery. India has fallen into Pirate Territory. Recall the Embassy Staff and close the buildings. Ban future trade. Fly over if you must but please flush.

  14. What makes this country any different than Dubai lately? Say the wrong thing about the government or publish things this government doesn’t want to see the light of day and you’re liable to be incarcerated or have your car crash into a tree.

  15. Bruce

    Dredd I don’t believe in an aggressive foreign policy, if it was up to me I would pull out of Afghanistan, Korea etc. and use the troops to secure out borders, I would also remove the U.N. out of the United States to wherever.
    Me too.

    Yep, the UN needs to be in a peaceful country (Epigovernment: The New Model – 5).

  16. randyjet, Bravo! I have no doubt some of the people opposed to Israel are righteous. Just like many people opposed to the Catholic Church abuse are righteous. But, mixed in w/ just those 2 examples, are people who are merely anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic. I believe the movement against the Catholic Church for their despicable handling of child rape and abuse is primarily driven by righteous people, many Catholic, who are disgusted and fed up w/ the Church. I’ve never gotten the sense the anti Israel movement by colleges is so righteous.

  17. nick, I have to agree with your assessment of the anti-Israeli movement. There are folks like myself who are against the US government giving Israel a blank check, but I found that the most vocal types are outright anti-Semites and perhaps the majority. I made some comments on some blogs that were quite critical of Israeli actions, and in response, I got posts that would have made Streicher of Die Sturmer proud. I had to disabuse them of my sympathy for anything like their views and I did that rather forcefully. Had I met them on the street, there would have been a physical altercation and hopefully they would have had to shed their own blood for their views. It was so bad, that I had I been younger, I would have gone to Israel, and joined the IDF.

    Having said that, I noted that Sharon died today. I only regret that he did not have his life end at the end of a rope which he richly deserved as a war criminal just as bad as the Nazis. I suggest folks read The Sword and the Olive which describes what he did as Major Sharon. He had a commando group to attack villages in Jordan on the West Bank at the time. At one they raided, the adult men were alerted to the raiders, and ran off. They left the women, children, and babies figuring the Israelis would not harm them. That was a major mistake since Sharon and his men decided since they could not kill the men, they slaughtered ALL the women, children and babies with knives. Up close and personal in their slaughter. I guess that they rather enjoyed it too since they were proud of their work and while there was an international outcry about this massacre, nothing happened to Sharon or the perps..Of course, the mass murder Sharon authorized in Beirut is well known, and at least he was visible enough so that he lost his job.

  18. randyjet, I’m w/ you on Sharon. And yes, it’s weird. It used to be you couldn’t say ANYTHING against Israel w/o being called an anti-Semite. Now, you can criticize Israel on something and a bunch of Brown Shirts jump out of the bushes and start quoting Mein Kampf. Did you read the other day Mein Kampf is a bestseller on Kindle? Chilling!

  19. I guess that the Tea Party types have finally found their origins and they are ripe for any conspiracy theories. Anti-Semitism, fascism, and the rightwing fit well together since they rely on wild conspiracy theories and constructs. That is why I suspect many of the so called 9/11 conspiracy fools are Nazis in disguise or sympathy.

  20. randyjet, you could say that about Nelson Mandella too, He formed the terrorist wing of the South African anti apartheid movement. As for the Tea Partiers all they want is fiscal responsibility in government, too much to ask for?

  21. Bruce, your comparison is delusional to say the least. The fact is that Tea party folks are NOT oppressed at all. In fact, they are part of a privileged sector of our society for the most part and funded by the wealthiest members of it. The shock troops and foot soldiers are most like the ones of the Nazi party and fascist groups in that they are the lowest paid part of the workforce and criminals, plus the segment of the middle class which supports the capitalists since they are the minions of them. Fascism is above all things a mass movement which is directed and funded by the wealthy to promote their interests.

    If the Tea parties were serious about fiscal responsibility they would never have voted for Bush or Romney who is a vulture capitalist who only wants fiscal responsibility as long as it hits the rest of us. A simple look at the facts would seem to be in order, but as I have noted here, most such types see facts as being irrelevant. The most telling poster in how most folks view things is the one which read, KEEP YOUR GOVERNMENT HANDS OFF MY MEDICARE. The lack of fact or reasoning is the essence for most in the movement. Your comparison of the Tea Party with the ANC freedom fighters is but another example of this disconnect between slogans and reality.

  22. Bruce wrote: “…you could say that about Nelson Mandella too, He formed the terrorist wing of the South African anti apartheid movement. As for the Tea Partiers all they want is fiscal responsibility in government, too much to ask for?”

    Excellent point, Bruce. Fiscal responsibility is NOT too much to ask of government.

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