The Internet In the Arab World
A New Space of Repression?
No Rules, No Limits
United Arab Emirates:
Freedom of expression is missing despite a decision banning imprisonment for press crimes
Emirates deal a blow to freedom of expression
Website head administrator jailed for one year and another writer arrested
Cairo, 21st August 2007,
HRINFO said today that the harsh sentence issued by Ras Kheima criminal court in U.A.E against the head administrator of " Majan webstiehttp://majan.net-" according to which he was sentenced for one year in prison and 50,000 Dirham fine and also paying 30,000 Dirham as a compensation to a government official in addition to shutting the website down, an action which greatly threatens the freedom of expression in U.E.A and undermines its leading role in spreading the usage of the Internet.
Ras Kheima criminal court sentenced on 8th August " Muhamed Rashid Shouhi" one year in prison in case no751/2007 after the head of Ras Kheima medical services filed a complaint against the website which is a discussion forum ,alleging defamation and libel committed against him in a participation by an unknown user. Despite the fact that what was mentioned on the website doesn’t exceed political criticism against a public official and also in addition to Shouhi's unaccountability for members' opinions, the court has responded harshly and sent Shouhi to Mamoura prison as he will be transferred soon to the Central prison.
On 19th August, "Khaled Alasley" one of Majan.net writers was arrested and questioned , the security services refused to release him on bail which confirms the will of the security services to persecute others. the Electronic body of Ras Kheima confiscated the website's control panel and searched into the e-mails of the registered users on the website.
A group of intellectuals and writers in U.E.A and Oman launched a campaign to free Shouhi and Alasley to drop the unjust sentences against Majan.net head administrator and put an end to the arbitrary detention of Mr.Alasley.
"We stand hand in hand with those brave writers and intellectuals and we believe that it behooves the U.A.E to take pride in Majan.net members and administrators instead of incarcerating them for expressing their right to freedom of expression. it's a harsh blow to the freedom of expression and the right to use the internet in a country that -was- famous for spreading the usage of the internet". Said Gamal Eid, HRINFO executive director.
HRINFO decided to address:
Sheikh/ Muhammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum- , Vice prisedent, head of the ministers council and Dubai governor.
Sheikh/ Sakr alQasimy , Governor of Ras Kheima.
Colonel/ Talib Ben Sakr Ben Muhammed Qasimy , head of Ras Kheima's police station.
To urge them to rectify this mistake which damages the U.A.E image and threatens the freedom of speech and expression.
The constitution of the U.A.E issued in 1971 stipulates in article 30 the freedom of speech and expression, either in writing or verbally.
Majan.net and wa6n.net are among the most popular forums in the Emirate of Ras Kheima.
Muhammed Rashed Shouhi is the head administrator of Majan.net, he was preparing for a master degree next September and he is a father for 3 children.