An expat worker in Dubai, UAE, has been accused of blasphemy for posting offensive remarks on his Facebook page, which, according to the country’s law, is a serious offense.
A grocery store worker came across the controversial text in November while going through his Facebook page. He recognized the author of the remarks — a 31-year-old Indian welder — and reported the matter to Al Rashidiya police station, according to court records obtained by local media.
“In the messages, he insulted the Prophet (PBUH) and Muslims and described the religion as having no head and tail. The rampage also included insults to Arabs,” The Gulf Today reported. The police apprehended him for questioning.
The unnamed welder told investigators his phone had been hacked and that someone else had posted those comments on his Facebook page.
However, prosecution did not confirm if the suspect’s Facebook account had been hacked or even whether he had personally written the post.
Foreigners, including tourists and migrant workers, in the UAE often face difficulties because they are usually unaware of the cultural, religious and legal practices unique to the country.
The country’s internet laws, for instance, are particularly stringent. It is a punishable offense to post anything on the internet that goes against Emirati public morals and code of conduct, including content deemed vulgar, un-Islamic and blasphemous.
Ignorance or lack of information regarding these laws has landed a number of foreigners in trouble with the law in the UAE over the past couple of years.
In 2015, Abu Dhabi police arrested a Florida man who posted a rant about his UAE-based employer on Facebook. Another man was slapped with a fine of $68,000 after using “insulting” language over WhatsApp.