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. 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).

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. (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.

  7. Dredd. The lefties under obummer have abused the rights of more citizens than the right

  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. Raff.

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

  10. If this is what Dubai is like, then why are American universities like NYU opening campuses there?

    1. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. United Arab Emirates… we don’t want to offend you, when want to melt you!

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

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

  16. 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.

  17. Very interesting article Darren, but scary. Remind me
    to stay out of Dubai! Freedom of speech is on the run in the

  18. 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.

Comments are closed.