Saudi Arabia continues to struggle between modernity and absurdity. While trying to resemble a modern country in allowing women to actually drive, the country continues to enforce medieval Sharia justice while criminalizing basic forms of speech like satire. The Kingdom has declared that online satire that “disrupts public order” is punishable by up to five years in prison. It is a move that aptly captures a legal system considered a bad joke around the world.
Under the new law, “[p]roducing and distributing content that ridicules, mocks, provokes and disrupts public order, religious values and public morals through social media … will be considered a cybercrime punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of three million riyals ($800,000).”
Saudi Arabia continues to grapple with the freedoms allowed by the Internet and it has used “cybercrime” to impose authoritarian controls over its critics. Now even joking about religious values or public morals will put you into jail for five years.