An Australian woman has been deported from United Arab Emirates after she was arrested and jailed for posting a Facebook photo of a car without disability stickers blocking two disabled parking spaces in her apartment building – because exposing such a narcissistic act is apparently a crime.
Jodi Magi was found guilty and subsequently jailed for “writing bad words on social media."
The conflict began in February, when the 39-year-old took the photo and blanked out the number plate of the vehicle before sharing it on her Facebook. Although she reportedly posted the picture to draw attention towards the selfish act, someone in her building recognized the car and filed a complaint. Even though Magi did not provide any identification details about the car or the name of its owner, the case still went to a court in Abu Dhabi.
The Australian woman, who has been living in the country since 2012, was asked to sign multiple Arabic documents without any translation. A few weeks later, she was found guilty of “writing bad words on social media about a person.”
When the authorities told her that she would be deported, Magi tried to voluntarily self-deport and pay the $2,700 fine, but found out she couldn’t leave Abu Dhabi without presenting herself to court.
However, when she appeared in the court to pay the fine, she was arrested and imprisoned, despite this not being a part of her sentence.
Magi posted a statement on Facebook detailing her release.
"After 53 hours in custody, having been shackled at the ankles, strip-searched, blood tested, forced to sleep on a concrete floor without a mattress or pillow and having no access to toilet paper or eating utensils, I can happily say I AM SAFE & OUT OF JAIL AND ABU DHABI!," her post read.
The photo has since been removed from Magi’s Facebook page.
As if her jailing and deportation wasn’t bad enough, Magi did not received much assistance from Australian government officials either.
“I'm not sure if it was me being naïve, like I was under the impression that embassies were in countries to help their citizens in times of difficulty,” she explained. “But from my experience it seems that their job here – I'll only speak from my experience in Abu Dhabi – seems to be to generate business and they've got no interest in anything other than that.”
Magi teaches local Emirati women graphic design, according to her personal blog, where she defines herself as “an Australian who loves a creative challenge, appreciates the stimulation travel brings and believes in the importance of questions.”