Just days after major Arab nations severed diplomatic ties to Qatar, the United Arab Emirates has taken another firm stance against the country.
It has emerged that showing sympathy for Qatar on social media will now be regarded as cybercrime and sympathizers may face a jail term up to 15 years or at least 500,000 dirhams ($136,000) in fines.
“Strict and firm action will be taken against anyone who shows sympathy or any form of bias towards Qatar, or against anyone who objects to the position of the United Arab Emirates, whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form,” Hamad Saif Al Shamsi, UAE attorney-general, said.
The move comes after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Maldives, Mauritius, Jordan and Mauritania cut ties with the peninsula, citing issues relating to terrorism.
The countries announced they would withdraw their diplomatic ambassadors from Qatar while ordering the country’s to leave their territories within 48 hours. Qatari residents were also ordered to leave within two weeks.
Saudi Arabia has also ordered Qatari troops be pulled from the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The alleged comments by Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in which he criticized the harsh rhetoric aimed at Iran by the Gulf states and the United States and asserted his support for Palestinian militant group Hamas and his ties with Israel, simmered tensions between the Gulf states.
Saudi Arabia also accuses Qatar of backing Shia militants in Bahrain, having links with the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and alleges it "promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly.”
The escalating tensions between the countries and allies isolating Qatar is leaving the Middle East divided.
People on Twitter blasted the U.A.E.’s decision.
I'm afraid if i sympathized with the sympathized people, my gov is gonna punish me under the law of unsympathizing with sympathy with Qatar!— Mohamed Thabet (@MuhammadThabet1) June 7, 2017
Count me a criminal then, pathetic rules from a pathetic 'country'— Hassoun (@Hassoun) June 7, 2017
Arabian Countries Stop yours folly, you are required to united not hatred, All Muslims are brothers we are all made one person Adam and Hawa— MoussaKluivert (@moussakluivert) June 7, 2017
To friends in the UAE & Saudi Arabia : Please take note that sympathy for Qatar is now a criminal offence punishable with a jail term.— ???? ????? (@BaFana3) June 7, 2017