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Kuwait Sentences Two Men To Jail For Tweets Criticizing Ruler 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the sticks-and-stones dept.
New submitter Oxide writes "A Kuwaiti court sentenced a man to two years in prison on Monday for insulting the country's ruler on Twitter, his lawyer said, the second person to be jailed for the offense in as many days. The Gulf state has clamped down in recent months on political activists who have been using social media websites to criticize the government and the ruling family. What's interesting is that the tweets in question did not mention the ruler directly but just indicated it might be him it is referring to."
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Kuwait Sentences Two Men To Jail For Tweets Criticizing Ruler

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  • by MrKaos (858439) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:43AM (#42530353) Journal
    As it's obvious this ruler was Imperial.
  • by neiljt (238527) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:44AM (#42530357)
    Cripes, reading this makes the US sound like the Land of the Free.
    • Re:Damned Tyrants! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @07:37AM (#42530609)

      What these tyrants fail to realize, is that nobody takes anything anyone states on social media seriously. The Internet is a community of screwballs, nitwits and the outright bat-shit crazy.

      On the Internet, folks will say to you stuff like, "Your mother's muff is astroturf!" and "Heidi Klum is actually an investment-grade Lego Mindstorms collectors' edition set!"

      So what? "Twits and stones will break your bones . . . ?"

      • Re:Damned Tyrants! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Chatsubo (807023) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @07:57AM (#42530745)

        > nobody takes anything anyone states on social media seriously

        Until you put them in jail.

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        That was sort of true. Then Arab Spring happened.

        You may want to note where Kuwait is located.

        • Re:Damned Tyrants! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gtall (79522) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @09:38AM (#42531685)

          Let's review the Arab Spring just for giggles. Tunisia: moderate government but the Islamists are grinding their teeth and threatening people. Egypt: elected an Islamist who appears to be governing by decree...admittedly attempting to lead a failed state. Libya: warring clans, no central government. Syria: civil war. Saudi Arabia: Arab What? Yemen: weak central government, Islamists wandering the hills in search of victims...errr...followers. Kuwaiti: still ruled by the fat boys in robes. The rest of the Gulf States: see Saudi Arabia. Algeria: still fighting the Islamists, central government has heard of democracy but is having none of it. Morocco: still has monarchy which is fighting tooth and nail to remain relevant, Islamists don't yet have a significant foothold. The other African countries have Islamists cutting off heads, arms, legs, etc....gotta wonder what they have against those limbs.

          Some spring. Allah-forbid summer should come, the Islamists won't rest until every Arab is under their boot.

          • If the choice comes down to a western-style dictatorship that's friendlier to us than a bunch of islamists, and said islamists imposing their authoritarian regime, I'll support the former.

            • by Luckyo (1726890)

              As we've seen in concrete examples, locals prefer the latter. And they're the ones that get to vote.

              Notably their locals would have probably preferred islamist authoritarian regime in Western countries too. But here, we get to vote.

            • Long-term, you should support not the regime that is friendlier, but the regime that builds schools and generally educates people and keeps the economy more or less relevant - rulers come and go, but populace remains, and educated populace is much less likely to condone dictatorships, and is more likely to be friendly with the West.

              From that perspective, though, secular dictatorships are still preferable to "Islamic republics".

          • Egypt: elected an Islamist who appears to be governing by decree

            Not anymore. They had an vote in Egypt last month, and 64% voted to approve [wikipedia.org] the new constitution. You may not approve of the way Egypt is heading, but the Egyptian people do approve, and it is their country. They replaced non-democratic authoritarianism with democratic authoritarianism, and I think that is an improvement, because now there is at least a mechanism in place for future reform.

      • Your mother's muff is astroturf!

        Ever since the divorce, you might say she's really been playing the field.

      • What these tyrants fail to realize, is that nobody takes anything anyone states on social media seriously.

        "The tyrant fears the laugh more than the assassin's bullet." -- Robert Heinlein

    • Cripes, reading this makes the US sound like the Land of the Free.

      The Kuwaiti family fails to realize that if they want to have real power and control they need to let go of the "ruling family" thing and get themselves put in charge of the money supply there. Let people say whatever they want, but make 100% of their wealth subject to confiscation for collateral on that money and make their every activity subject to arbitrary rules for enforcement. But let them say whatever they want, because that will mak

      • by gtall (79522)

        The Kuwaiti Royal Family already has control of the money supply. They figure that gives them the power to tell everyone what to believe and say.

        The U.S. screwed up after the Kuwait war, they should have offered it to the Palestinians. It would have removed a royal pain in the tookus. "Say, Pals, have we got a deal for you. How'd you like yer own country so you could have yer own civil war, it's got oil, a port or two, verrrrrry friendly neighbors. Warm sunny climate....location, location, location!!!"

        • After the US kicked Iraq out of Kuwait, the Kuwaitis ethnically cleansed the Palestinians from Kuwait. Hundreds of thousands forced to move. Let's blame Israel.

          • by cusco (717999)
            After the US invasion the Emir was a bit annoyed because the US made him free his slaves. Now they import 'guest workers' from Indonesia and the Philippines and treat them worse than they ever treated their slaves (some of whom had served the royalty for multiple generations). They knew the Palestinians wouldn't put up with that crap so they had to go.
    • Re:Damned Tyrants! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:38AM (#42531051) Homepage Journal

      Cripes, reading this makes the US sound like the Land of the Free.

      It sure does, doesn't it? That's why I yell so loudly about every little infringement of our freedoms. We'll miss them when they're gone, even the ones we didn't think we were interested in.

    • by daem0n1x (748565)
      I'm soooo glad you guys went there in '90 to liberate the country when Saddam invaded it, or Kuwait would be a freedom-hating dictatorship now.
    • by cusco (717999)
      Doesn't it make you proud that this is one of our government's closest allies? [/sarcasm]
  • by polyp2000 (444682) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:49AM (#42530375) Homepage Journal

    The Compass or the Set-Square ?

  • by TheDarAve (513675) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:55AM (#42530405)

    What did they post? "Your numbers aren't fully in line!" "You don't take exact measurements! " "Being flat and metal with writing all over you is evil!"

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:58AM (#42530423) Homepage
    I still remember with bitter disappointment the day I discovered that the 30cm on one edge of my ruler didn't exactly line up with the 15" on the other side after all.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by telchine (719345)

      I still remember with bitter disappointment the day I discovered that the 30cm on one edge of my ruler didn't exactly line up with the 15" on the other side after all.

      Why would you be disappointed? They should be out by approximately three inches!

      • Oops. 12".

        Up until that fateful day, I'd never looked closely enough to see that, while the 0cm and 12" marks lined up, the 30cm and 0" marks didn't :(

  • by MRe_nl (306212) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @07:07AM (#42530453)

    Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah al-Streisand effect.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Making an example of the offenders is exactly what they ARE trying to do. The specific content of the tweet, nobody will care or even remember.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Didn't the west stop an invasion of Kuwait a few decades ago? Kinda a big thing at the time. Hmmm if this is what that conflict led to maybe stopping the invasion was not entirely a good idea hmmm

    • Well Saddam Hussein wasn't known for embracing constructive criticism either but you have a fair point. The West - which realistically means the US - should insist on democratic reforms and freedoms when using its power to save these dictatorships from each other. There's currently a similar wilfull blindness in Afghanistan. The enemy (the Taliban) is demonised by various views on women's education/behaviour etc. However the Afghans themselves are just as extremist once you get outside Kabul. Their differe
      • by Jiro (131519) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @10:19AM (#42532193)

        This isn't true. For instance, the Taliban banned the education of women, but education of women was allowed before that. Schools had to close down--why would they have to close down something which according to you never could have existed?

        The Taliban were also known for destroying some historical Buddhist statues for religious reasons. If what you were saying is true, and the people of the area have the same beliefs as the Taliban, those statues would have been destroyed already by the locals.

        It's true that the people of Afghanistan want what would by Western standards still be a dictatorship, but some dictatorships are bad, and some are really bad.

        • "But outside Kabul and other big cities the changes are more patchy. Most Afghans still live in rural areas, where poverty, conflict and conservative attitudes are more likely to keep girls and women at home. [...] These are also the heartlands of the Pashtuns, the ethnic group from which the Taliban emerged and who have always had the most conservative views of a woman's role." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19911341 [bbc.co.uk]
        • This isn't true. For instance, the Taliban banned the education of women, but education of women was allowed before that. Schools had to close down--why would they have to close down something which according to you never could have existed?

          The areas where there were schools (like Kabul) were mostly under the control of DRA government before Taliban took over. To remind, that's the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan - i.e. the pro-Soviet government that Soviets fought to defend in the 80s, and abandoned by early 90s. It was a secular authoritarian but progressive government, and yes, among other things, it also built schools (one of the things that drew ire of islamists way back then was that DRA schools were mixed, boys and girls together). I

    • Hmmm if this is what that conflict led to

      The conflict led to an end to Iraq's slant drilling under the Kuwaiti border, ensuring a smooth flow of OPEC exports.

  • Good Thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @07:33AM (#42530597)
    Good thing the US saved these scions of freedom from the clutches of a tyrant, eh?
    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Yup. The US also protected the Saudis and U.A.E. from being oppressed by the Iraqis so they could instead by oppressed by their own monarchs. And then we wonder why a bunch of them got mad at the US and flew some planes into buildings (which the US responded to by helpfully invading Iraq).

    • by idontgno (624372)

      They're scions of freedom in the only ways that matter: free to quietly support our policies and actions in the Gulf region, and free to sell us all the oil we can buy.

      I hope this isn't some kind of shock for you. Our foreign policy is pretty consistently utilitarian. The moral considerations are, at best, icing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So, did Al-Jazeera cover this?

    • Re:Kuwait? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @07:53AM (#42530715)
      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        The only government that Al Jazeera might have a tough time criticizing is Qatar, because that's who owns them. And that's why I like their coverage of Middle East affairs: They don't pull punches, no matter what they're reporting on.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Coverage on the English Al-Jazeerah is of no value. They usually just follow / copy other English media.

        I would like to know if they cover these abuses on the original Arabic Al-Jazeera. No the news are not the same on those two channels. The news on each of these channels is tailored according to the audience. Arabic channel is pro-fundamentalism to say the least...

        • Re:Kuwait? (Score:4, Informative)

          by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @11:07AM (#42532899) Homepage

          Coverage on the English Al-Jazeerah is of no value. They usually just follow / copy other English media.

          Right, that's why they report stories that a lot of the American media won't even touch, and report the same story from a different perspective. That's why they've won the Columbia Journalism Award [columbia.edu].

          Some examples of what you're missing if you ignore them:
          - They covered the Egyptian revolution very very different viewpoint from, say, the New York Times. If you read only American press, you'd think that Mohammed Morsi was a dictator. If you read or watch Al-Jazeera English, you'd know that he was the duly elected winner of a hotly contested election.
          - They exposed the details of a negotiation session between Israel and Fatah over who was going to own what in the West Bank, including actual video. The editorial aftermath was highly critical of both sides.
          - They've reported on the effects of US drone strikes beyond the typical "US officials say that 15 militants were killed in a drone strike in Pakistan today."

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:29AM (#42530973) Homepage

    I think we should have let it become part of Iraq and then taken Iraq.

    Sometimes, most of the time, I say we should stay the hell out of the middle east. It's not the "American peoples' business." Sure, there are some people in the US who have business there and so be it. Let THEM pay for their armed assistance defending their business. Why should US tax payers pay for the armed defense of their business? Do we get tax breaks or rebates? Sure, we get cheaper prices at the pump, but cheaper compared to what? I think the result of higher gas prices are well known... higher cost of employees and a shortage of the ones employers want. That would lead to more use of public transportation and/or telecommuting and all the things the oil industry dreads because it's all a reduction in the use and dependency on big oil. It all serves big oil's business interests which are:

    1. Maintain everyone's dependence on big oil

    Short list of interests right?

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I think we should have let it become part of Iraq and then taken Iraq.

      This would make more sense to me than what we are doing. But remember, it's not based on what makes sense for humanity in the long term. It's based on what makes sense for the people in power right now. On one hand you have the interest of The People, who would like to see the amount of work they have to do to survive fall, the level of comfort in their life rise, and the amount of violence in their life decline so they can relax and enjoy life. On the other hand you have the interest of a tiny slice of the

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by dkleinsc (563838)

      "I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism."
      - Major General Smedley Butler, 1933 (2-time Medal of Honor recipient)

    • In the future, just let the neighboring despot invade and take over, THEN invade and "liberate", that way you get two countries for the price of one!

      Of course one might argue that Iraq might have used the additional resources in money and oil to further militarize the area. Then again, so long as you don't wait overly long it shouldn't be a problem. Might take 4 days rather than 3 to totally wipe out their forces. Additional, that way rather than having to fight insurgance all day long, you automatically re

  • Liberated (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kimvette (919543) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:42AM (#42531079) Homepage Journal

    I'm so glad we liberated Kuwait, so that they could get their tyrannical regime back.

  • Darn, Kuwait is pretty progressive - most countries in that region would have sentenced them to death!

    Seriously though, as much as I might complain about what's wrong with America, it's comforting that we are free to criticize our government without fear of prison or worse.

    If I want to say that the House of Representatives is the most wretched hive of scum and vil... *pounding at door* ... oh, scuse me one sec... +++CARRIER LOST+++

  • by Frankie70 (803801) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @10:13AM (#42532081)
  • ... Governor Christie remains unpunished after chastising the GOP for dragging their heels on hurricane aid.

    There just ain't no justice!

  • by sjames (1099)

    Aren't we all just thrilled that we have been ensnared in two costly wars in that region all started by (supposedly) us protecting this ruler's power?

  • In Washington, the US state department said it had seen the reports of the two men's sentences and had raised the issue with the Kuwaiti government, which it urged to respect freedom of speech.

    "We call on the government of Kuwait to adhere to its tradition of respect for freedom of assembly, association, and expression," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. "You know how strongly we feel about locking people up for their use of Twitter."

    Yeah, how many Americans have been locked up or are now labeled terrorists for saying dumb things on the internet?

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