The arrest of an Indian national in Jeddah, for allegedly posting a blasphemous image of the Kaaba on his Facebook page, has seen experts warn that such content violates the country’s cyber laws and can mean jail time and heavy fines.
Indian Consul General B.S. Mubarak confirmed that the Indian national has been jailed for violating the Kingdom’s cyber laws.
“This happened a month ago in Jeddah and the Saudi law enforcement authorities are currently conducting an investigation,” he told Arab News on Wednesday. “We are trying to help him in the best possible way,” he said.
According to legal experts, once the investigations are over, judgment would be pronounced and only then would the consulate be able to enter a plea on his behalf. The public prosecutor, according to a report in a local newspaper, is calling on the courts to punish the man severely for allegedly posting the blasphemous material.
Under the Kingdom’s cyber laws, anyone involved in the transmission or storage of material violating religious values and public morals, can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to SR3 million.
The image displayed on Facebook showed the Holy Kaaba plastered with Hindu deities. The image had created a furor in many Indian cities last year. The report said a Saudi national, shocked by the image, alerted the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia), and an investigation was launched.
Social media experts said people need to be very careful about posts on Facebook and Twitter.
“These are serious issues,” said Adnan Akram, a consultant with an online security firm. “You should never click on anything automatically. It can create havoc as in the case of this young man.”
Nadira Hussain, a mother of three and an enthusiastic user of Facebook, said she was horrified at one stage when her Facebook wall was plastered with nude images. “I didn’t know what to do. My children and close relatives were all horrified but it was some kind of virus. Even then, it left quite a scar on me and I stopped using Facebook altogether,” she said. She said children should be educated about online behavior. “They may do something innocently, but the repercussions of their acts can be devastating,” she added.
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