We have been discussing the intolerance shown by countries in the Middle East for free speech, particularly those Muslim countries applying the medieval Sharia law system. Abu Dhabi has again stepped forward to reaffirm its rejection of fundamental principles of free speech. Our Middle Eastern ally has jailed an Australian woman, Jodi Magi, 39, for merely posting a photo on Facebook of a car parked across two disabled parking spaces. She even blurred out the license plate (which most people would not do) in showing the rude conduct of some driver. The driver called police and Magi was arrested for on the truly moronic charge of “writing bad words on social media.” In bringing the charge, the prosecutors in Abu Dhabi confirmed that they are maintaining a faux legal system that recognizes neither basic rights nor basic logic.
The court quickly found her guilty of the child-like charge of “writing bad words on social media about a person.” For showing bad parking. Other Westerners have been arrested in the country for simply discussing how teens in the country have awkwardly adopted hip-hop culture or criticizing Arab culture generally.
Human rights advocates have denounced the United Arab Emirates for its crackdown on “cybercrime” in targeting unpopular speech. What is truly bizarre is that this driver had no qualms in coming forward to police to began prosecution after showing disgraceful conduct in blocking handicapped spots.
Article 21 of the 2012 cybercrime law is a provision that only an authoritarian government would love. It forbids not only the use of “a computer network or and electronic information system or any information technology means for the invasion of privacy of another person” but “amending or processing a record, photo or scene for the purpose of defamation of or offending another person or for attacking or invading his privacy.” That could be just about anything. The clear desire of the government is to chill free speech and give its total discretion in picking and choosing who to arrest at any given time.