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Saudi Arabia Criminalizes Mockery, Satire, Incitement

Saudi Arabia Criminalizes Mockery, Satire, Incitement

Wednesday, 5 September, 2018 - 07:15
A Saudi man explores social media on his mobile device as he sits at a cafe in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser
Jeddah- Mohammed Al Ayed
The Saudi Public Prosecution warned that those who publish posts on social media that include mockery, satire and incitement – especially those affecting public order - might be fined and punished with imprisonment.

The prosecution said on its Twitter account that publishing, sending or copying statements of mockery, satire and incitement, or anything else that would harm the public order through the social media or any other technical means, would be considered as a crime of information that is punishable by up to five years of imprisonment and a fine reaching SAR3 million.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, lawyer and legal expert Youssef Al-Arfaj said that the Prosecution was referring in its tweet to Article 6 of the Cybercrimes Act, noting that the five year-imprisonment and SAR3 million-fine were a maximum penalty, especially for posts related to terrorism or state security.

He added that access to sites linked to terrorist organizations or that support extremist ideologies, even if accidentally, would also be considered a cybercrime.

Arfaj emphasized that law and order were crucial in the development of societies through the provision of a safe environment, in which all members should follow such rules to preserve their rights.

The legal expert cited Article 2 of the Cybercrimes Act on the defamation of others and interference in their privacy, indicating that some people might not be aware that they “cause harm to others through the use of smartphones to publish posts of mockery, satire, and incitement.”

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