Cursers beware: there’s a new law in the UAE, making it a criminal offense to swear or use abusive language in a text message! If convicted, you could face a fine of AED 250,000 (US$68,000), a prison term and even deportation for expats!
Just recently, a man of Arabian descent was fined $816 (AED3,000) after he was convicted of swearing at a colleague in a WhatsApp message on his phone. A retrial has been ordered after prosecutors argued that the fine was too lenient! (see, this article entitled UAE pushes for $68,000 fine for swearing in WhatsApp message in ArabianBusiness.com. According to this article, the same laws apply even if an insulting emoji is used in a text message, such as one with the middle finger extended.
Today, the Telegraph published this story warning its citizens not to curse when messaging or texting on programs such as WhatsApp when visiting Dubai or Abu Dhabi this summer. The Telegraph author, Rhiannon Williams wrote, in pertinent part:
Brits abroad beware – swearing at someone over WhatsApp could land you with a £45,000 fine and potential deportation under a new federal law in the UAE.
The Federal Supreme Court, based in Abu Dhabi, ordered the retrail of a man convicted of swearing at a colleague over the messaging app after the Dhs3,000 (£523) imposed fine was deemed too lenient. Prosecutors appealed the verdict, demanding he should be fined up to Dhs250,000 (£43,569) or face jail.
The defendant was prosecuted under the Cyber Crimes Law after the claimant presented his mobile phone to prove he had been sent “insulting words” in a WhatsApp message, although the exact terms were not revealed in court documents, according to 7Days UAE.
Legal experts warned last month that using the forthcoming middle finger emoji could also earn you a spell in jail of up to three years or a hefty fine of up to Dhs500,000 (£87,000) as the gesture is illegal in the UAE.
Criminal defence lawyer Abdullah Yousef Al Nasir told 7Days: “Sending a middle finger emoji on a smartphone or even sending a middle finger picture through email can put you in trouble.
“It’s an insult in the UAE and the law can punish you with either jail of up to three years or a fine of up to Dhs500,000.”
Al Nasir clarified that emoji sent jokingly to friends would not necessarily lead to legal action, as a complaint would have to be registered.
“With the development of technology, people have started insulting others on social media using services like WhatsApp or BlackBerry messenger,” he added.
The case has now been referred to the Court of Appeal, and a date for the new trial has yet to be confirmed.
All I can say is this is FUCKING nuts.
HT to CHARITY RUNNER KINO!