Freedom of Speech, UAE style

12 Feb, '06

Have a load of this, the UAE has issued a federal law on combating cyber crime:

Some of the offences and their punishment:
– Abuse of any Islamic holy shrines or rituals.

– Abuse of holy shrines and religious rituals stipulated in other religions since such rituals are maintained in accordance to the rulings of Islamic Sharia.

– Article No 16 states that anyone found breaking family principles and values or publishing news or pictures related to the private life of the family members will be jailed for no less than one year and fined Dh50,000.

– Article No 17 stipulates that anyone found setting up a website or publishing information using internet or any other cyber means for the purpose of human trafficking will be temporarily imprisoned.

– Article No 18 states that anyone found using websites to sell narcotics will be temporarily jailed.

– Article No 19 states that anyone found transferring dirty money or concealing their sources will be sentenced to no more than seven years and a fine of no less than Dh30,000 and up to Dh200,000.

– Article No 20 states that anyone found publishing information in breach of general order and public decency will be sentenced to not more than five years in jail.

How many have I broken of these draconian laws? Boy am I glad that I’m in Bahrain… for now… why? Because my friends, we normally import the worst that the Emirates dishes out. I just hope against hope that in this particular case, we will adopt something like these laws instead.

I think due to these laws, blogging is the Emirates is dead. So is the whole internet.

Bahrain should immediately start accepting applications for the BAHRAIN INTERNET CITY and the BAHRAIN MEDIA CITY and we will even give honorary citizenship to Secret Dubai so she can move here at her will and continue to poke fun at both Bahrain and the Emirates, joined of course by one of my favourties: Ben Kerishan! 😉

Of course all deals are off if Bahrain decides to just import these draconian laws and miss yet another opportunity to make something out of itself.

via UAE community blog

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Comments (28)

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  1. anonymous says:

    Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    Allow me to play devil’s advocate, mahmood, but I can understand where these laws come from. I mean we all know how the UAE and Saudi tailor-make laws and regulations from their values. Freedom of speech funneling into personal aspects, and on a different level, criticizing political leadership is a big “no no”. But the thing is, at least there is a justification. They’ll be glad to tell you where they came up with the law.

    On the other hand, in a different jurisdiction I will leave unnamed, the process is an ad hoc cycle of asking websites to register… and if a certain official doesn’t fancy one in particular, offline it goes.

    I’m sure you’re familiar with the arabic saying that means something like “being unfair with everyone is kind of being fair”. “thulm 3alal jamee3 3adaalah.”

    The Joker

  2. anonymous says:

    Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    This is bad for the UAE, but I don’t think the UAE bloggers will be relocating to Bahrain anytime soon. Bahrain doesn’t have a law specifically for “cyber crime”, but we do have more general laws that are equally Draconian, and which can and have been used to clamp down on online speech. We have the Press Law, the Communications Law, and the 1976 Penal Code still around if I’m not mistaken. Which means that we can’t criticize the King, or disseminate “false or malicious” news, or “incite contempt against the government”, or “threaten national security”, or “spread discord”, or infringe Islamic beliefs or cultural norms, etc.

  3. anonymous says:

    Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    Mahmood, I have to disagree with your opinion. You neglected to mention several key points in that article, and you very sneekily forgot to mention that the laws are 99.9% probably written in Arabic, you read them translated for usage in an English publication, and it’s no surprise that a few of them completely don’t make sense. You fail to realise the track record Gulf News has with severely biased articles.
    The banning of flickr has absolutely nothing to do with pornography, there are other reasons for it’s blockage, and i’m not going to go into them; take a look at, a website of similar/greater popularity, it features nude pictures, and there is no way for Etisalat to distinguish between them and normal pictures, more importantly, deviantart is much more flexible as to how much pornography is allowed.
    Please be more careful as to what your represent as being factual.
    You also fail to mention any issues with what jurisdiction the UAE government has over sites hosted in the US (that’d be the whole of blogger, blogspot, livejournal and about another 60% of the internet as a rought guesstimate)

    samuraisam ( )

    PS: as for all the “freedom of speech” bullcrap etc that you are obviously poking at; case in point:[img][/img]
    I did a quick google search; (“human rights” “united arab emirates”) came in at 1,970,000 hits, and (“human rights” “bahrain”) i’ll be damned, 2,470,000 results.
    Sounds like a whole lot of kettle calling the pot black.

  4. mahmood says:

    Re: Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    Ah, but if you do:

    Results 1 – 10 of about 4,530,000 for “human rights” emirates. (0.30 seconds)

    Surprising isn’t it?

    Regardless, I appreciate your points raised. My comparing the Emirates and Bahrain is nothing more than being sarcastic, for the whole area (all of it) is not a shining example of respect for human rights nor its citizens for that matter.

    The point I was making with the article however is quite plain to see, the forcing of respect for personas, religion, etc which if left alone would be ripped apart without too much effort, save for that sword that hangs on every person living in this area for daring to question the (by law) unquestionable.

  5. anonymous says:

    Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    Just wondering – will Bahrain be able to house the UAE blogging community??

    Any way Emirati has a good answer to your post, [url=]Read Here[/url]


  6. anonymous says:

    Re(1): Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    I don’t think you put human rights in quotations. This would search for those two words together, as opposed to a bunch of results where it might not actually say the words human rights together at all.

    [quote]Results 1 – 100 of about 2,290,000 for “human rights” emirates.[/quote]

    To be fair I put both bahrain and the united arab emirates in quotations and human rights in quotations too, with safe search completely off, and returning results in every single language possible. I come from neither location and have no plan to bias anything.

    Anyway returning to the point; i’d say the UAE’s human rights violations are very much almost behind it, apparantly some big stuff is happening in the next week or two, on top of the landmarks they have managed to accomplish in the last year. It’s not as quick as it could be, but it’s certainly the most quick to progress nation, in my opinion, in the middle east; last I read the GDP or whatever it was, is only comprised of 15% oil profits.

    Personally I don’t believe in “Freedom of Speech”, it’s a term that a lot of people desire, yet it exists for a few select people on Earth, the mentally ill, and the super rich.
    Say the wrong thing, and you’ll get in trouble regardless of where you are. (saying goes; “piss in the wrong persons pool and you’ll pay the price”) The few people that do have true freedom of speech don’t use it to do anything good and more people keep on looking for the magical term.
    Before people start looking for freedom of speech they should be fixing poverty and war that happens, and all of the other worlds problems, which isn’t going to happen without freedom of speech in the first place.

    Some places will never change, can’t say that about the UAE.

  7. mahmood says:

    Re(2): Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    I did put them in quotation marks in order to refine the search better, as they should be done. Try it yourself and you will probably get the same returns I’ve got. The quoted text was a direct copy off the results page.

    Regardless, the point is that both countries have a very long way to travel to call themselves even close to respecting human rights.

    The post was sarcastic. Please view it as such. Maybe I should have used smilies!

  8. mahmood says:

    Re: Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    Hah! You call that jealous, anti-Shia, prejudiced nincampoop a “good reply”? A rant against something it can’t handle more like, but a studied “thought” is no where near the truth!

    Read some more of its writing and then, Ahmed, you will come to a conclusion that probably will tally with mine.

  9. anonymous says:

    Re(3): Freedom of Speech, UAE style


    go figure.

  10. Will says:

    Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    The truth is like a diamond with many facets.
    Freedom is an ideal not an absolute.
    When you force a river to run straight it is no longer a river.
    Censorship is like counting snowflakes in a blizzard.

    Smiles from nowhere

  11. anonymous says:

    Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    Well I won’t be surprised if this list grows in the UAE, afterall if flickr is banned, expect anything. I find it ironic that places like Dubai (given all what they’ve achieved etc.) in fact have to abide by such rules.

    Anyways, I hope Bahrain moves forward and makes the most of what it has got.


  12. mahmood says:

    Re(4): Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    That’s very interesting…

    Google is playing with us! Angelo if you’re reading this, can you shed some light on what these differences?

    My setup in this particular case is Mac, Safari, Not signed in and the search term is just as you can see.

    So Google is NOT the truth! Shocker!!

  13. anonymous says:

    Re: To shoot a mocking bird

    the truth is in the numbers. Word from King Faisal Highway is that you’re throwing stuff in the air with no proof, but regurgitated issues that have been dodging Bahrain since the early 90s. Get back to us when the F1 is over cuz it’ll take you that long to get out of the traffic from Sheikh Zayed Road.

  14. anonymous says:

    Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    We could do what these guys did.


    The Desolate Wilderness

    Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

    So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits.

    When they came to Delfs-Haven they found the ship and all things ready, and such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them, and sundry came from Amsterdam to see them shipt, and to take their leaves of them. One night was spent with little sleep with the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse, and other real expressions of true Christian love.

    The next day they went on board, and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to hear what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them; what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each other’s heart, that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the Key as spectators could not refrain from tears. But the tide (which stays for no man) calling them away, that were thus loath to depart, their Reverend Pastor, falling down on his knees, and they all with him, with watery cheeks commended them with the most fervent prayers unto the Lord and His blessing; and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them.

    Being now passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before them in expectations, they had now no friends to welcome them, no inns to entertain or refresh them, no houses, or much less towns, to repair unto to seek for succour; and for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of the country know them to be sharp and violent, subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search unknown coasts.

    Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men? and what multitudes of them there were, they then knew not: for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to Heaven) they could have but little solace or content in respect of any outward object; for summer being ended, all things stand in appearance with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hew.

    If they looked behind them, there was a mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar or gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world.

    FayezYashmak Wherz-Myroof

  15. anonymous says:

    Freedom of Speech, UAE style -[x].

    I think those new cyber laws are not bad at all as Mahmood mentioned in his post. Maybe some of them, which I read on onebigconstructionsite.blogspot, might need some more details and be more specific. However, in General those laws to protect the public from more social disorders nothing else. Sex Slavery is spreading everywhere, hacking and more. It’s not against Freedom of Speech, oh well I don’t even care to have Freedom of speech if i know that my country will fall apart by a civil war, and more disorders. Even Though all these happening, if UAE government blocks sites such as Flicker they should create a site like it to please the public, not just leave them in a cyber gap.


  16. anonymous says:

    Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    As I learn more about this I see that there are quite a few snowflake counters out there. I wonder how many of the visitors here are aware of the conditions under which this site is operated.

    I thought this was interesting [url][/url]

    Why is it that so many people want to tell everyone else what to do?

    Will from Canada

  17. mahmood says:

    Re: Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    That is increasingly becoming a valid option that at least my own compatriots have no shyness discussing, very openly. Some have already elected to leave, especially since the 80s and most have never come back.

    This issue is serious. Governments here have habitually used the excuse of protecting religion and customs to stifle free speech and dissent. As if Muslims, born and raised and even new recruits to the fold, would willingly and openly criticise to besmirch what they hold dear? Fully realising of course that criticism provides new avenues to explore hard and fast rules which might make things better. After all, what did these governments so called protection of religion and culture produce other than terrorists and their sympathisers?

    If people cannot freely express themselves, they will simply up sticks and leave to shores which affords them to do so; because without a true freedom of expression, all creativity, productivity and thought is stifled too producing nothing but a continuous regressive society, bankrupt of the very noble ideals their religion encourages and calls for.

  18. anonymous says:

    Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    Did you try a similar search for the USA

    Rudyard Kipling

  19. anonymous says:

    Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    US cited for widespread human rights abusesFirst in a series of articles on Amnesty International report By Kate Randall
    17 October, 1998Amnesty International released its report “United States of America–Rights for All” on October 6. The report paints a chilling picture of
    American society, including police brutality, abuse of children, prisoners, asylum-seekers and others, and the use of high-tech tools of repression and torture. Numerous violations of international standards of human rights are cited, as well as the role of the US in exporting weapons to governments known to carry out torture, and training the personnel to use these weapons. The report is the basis of a year-long campaign planned by the human rights group to bring US human rights violations to worldwide attention.

    In the coming weeks the World Socialist Web Site will present a detailed examination of the contents of this report. Today’s installment deals with the first two chapters: “Rights for all: Introduction” and “Universal Human Rights: International Standards.”

    The Amnesty International report opens with the passage: “The USA was founded in the name of democracy, political and legal equality, and individual freedom. However, despite its claims to international leadership in the field of human rights, and its many institutions to protect individual civil liberties, the USA is failing to deliver the fundamental promise of rights for all.”

  20. Hesham says:

    Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    I think we are over reacting. How will they ever be able to implement this law?


  21. mahmood says:

    Re: Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    That’s not the point though.

    This area’s governments made it their speciality to create and approve laws that they never implement, but can and do selectively whip out to apply them to any unsavoury situation they themselves deem necessary.

    We shouldn’t just let laws like these fly under the radar of “protecting our culture and religion and youth and ______ (fill in the gap)” without challenge. The consequences are far too great… and that – in my humble opinion – is what the vast majority miss the point of.

  22. anonymous says:

    Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    Good point Hesham – but could help them create a few jobs that can be Emeritised from the start

    But one should be aware censorship exists in the strangest of places and manifests itself in the oddest of ways

    I have experienced this first hand since I run my own web pages believe it or not about Birds and before you start not those found on Exhibition Avenue but the real ones, those with feathers. Often I am contacted by people from the around the world particularly this part telling me they can not access it – since it is regarded as sexually implicit ??!!!

    Why should this be so well its simple really I have numerous references to birds slang in English for GIRLS. I describe many of the species using such words as TIT as in Blue TIT as BREAST as in Red BREASTED Fly Catcher I describe in detail Yellow LEGGED Gulls Red RUMPS necks flanks etc. in fact every part of a females anatomy. I mention big No No’s such as BLACKBIRDS and the one that takes the cake getting LAID a thing birds do a lot off during egg production.

    This is were Censorship in any form especially when taken to extremes using only simple key words to deny access is self defeating

    Bird Man of Bahrain

  23. mahmood says:

    Re: Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    Oh thanks bird man, now you’ll get THIS site blocked!

    On a completely different topic: please answer this if you don’t mind.

  24. anonymous says:

    To shoot a mocking bird

    The word from Sheikh Zayed Road is that you are trying to digress from the real issues that Bahrain is suffering from (slow economic recovery, kaput financial center, scary unemployment rates etc.) by waging Falkland style ‘freedom war’ on your neighboring states to smutch up your country’s ‘edgy’ realities. Perhaps you are even enjoying those check quislings from the ‘undisputed’ king of Dilmun!!!

  25. mahmood says:

    Re: To shoot a mocking bird

    How am I responsible for the policies of Bahrain, its governance, procedures and those of the Emirates? I am just a normal person who comments on events as I read and understand them. OpEd if you like.

    I am gratified; however, that you attach that much importance to my writing and my undiscovered ability to divert public attention by waging wars on neighbouring countries which I hold in high regard and consider myself one of their citizens, as I do Bahrain.

    Maybe I should get into cartoons… then you will realise my power at diverting attention from real issues!!

  26. anonymous says:

    Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    The people of UAE with their “draconian laws” havent been that bad:

    1. we have never had islamic riots take the streets at the sight of nancy ajram. (where the hell was freedom of speech there?)

    2. we have always been cooperative with GCC, especially in terms of the gulf shield (shared defenses), which by the way, bahrain needs the most.

    3. we love bahrain regardless of people like you, and your ill-chosen comments

  27. mahmood says:

    Re: Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    You’re a bit late to the party, A’ntar. You should have come out from the playpen a bit earlier.

    But now that you have, consider this in the fullness of sobriety: I was attacking unneeded and draconian laws presented by your government. I did not, and will not, attack the Emirates or the Emiraties both of whom I hold in extremely high regard and affection.

    If your views have been sullied by emotive pumping by reading a misbegotten reply to this post before you came here, that’s your problem, not mine.

    A word to the wise before you disappear in the wilderness: try to think objectively about what these laws mean and how they will shackle freedoms of speech.

  28. anonymous says:

    Freedom of Speech, UAE style

    please make fun of emirati’s rants, for he is severley retared.

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