Here we go again:
UAE online forum administrator sentenced to prison
Earlier this month, on August 8th, Mohamed Rashed al-Shohhi, an online forum administrator in the Emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah (UAE) has been sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of nearly US$ 13,600 (Dh50,000) for content deemed defamatory published by anonymous on the popular forum board he moderated majan.net (suspended).
It has also been reported that the department of e-government services managed to access the forumâ€™s control panel looking for registrants email addresses. And it seems that this has led to the arrest, on August 19th, of a forum registrant, Khaled El Asli.
Why is this, I hear you ask?
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Ø§Ù„Ø®Ù„ÙŠØ¬ – Google translation of full article
What is essentially happening is that an anonymous commenter entered a perceivably defamatory comment and the forum moderator got it instead. Making true the local adage that if you can’t handle the donkey, break the cart! Or in Dr. Hashim Al-Rifa’i’s words – who heads the eGovernment Department in Ras Al-Khaima, a small and almost forgotten emirate in the UAE – if you have a complaint, you had better write a letter or send a fax! I wonder what his “eGovernment” initiative is like, it must be better than the telex technology, don’t you think.
He must also fully believes in the Big Red Switch which he and his government must have been ecstatic at activating against this new fangled thing called the Internet.
The situation in the whole Middle East is quite tenuous now and publishing anything on the internet is getting quite scary.
Well needless to say that I support Mohamed Rashed al-Shohhi’s right to freedom of speech and that he should not to be held responsible for comments entered in his electronic publication; therefore, ask for his release and exonoration from those ridiculous charges he has been imprisoned under.