The United Arab Emirates has prescribed a 15 year jail term for persons expressing sympathy towards Qatar. In what may be described as a move at censorship, the UAE’s Attorney General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi, released a statement today Wednesday, saying sympathising with Qatar was a cybercrime punishable by law.
“Strict and firm action will be taken against anyone who shows sympathy or any form of bias towards Qatar, or against anyone who objects to the position of the United Arab Emirates, whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form,” Gulf News quoted Shamsi as saying in the statement.
The Federal Public Prosecution also announced that according to the Federal Penal Code and the Federal law decree on Combating Information Technology Crimes, anyone who threaten the interests, national unity and stability of the UAE will face a jail term from three to 15 years, and a fine not less than AED 500,000 ($136,000).
All of this is as a result of a diplomatic row where Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt severed diplomatic ties and transport links with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting “extremism”.
Qatar has been trending and has been among the top topics discussed on Twitter in Arabic, which is a hugely popular medium of expression in the Arab world, particularly in Saudi Arabia. The dispute between Qatar and the Arab countries escalated after a recent hack of Qatar’s state-run news agency.