Kuwaiti Twitter user jailed for allegedly insulting Shias

AFP , Monday 20 Feb 2012

Employee of Islamic affairs ministry detained for allegedly insulting Kuwait's Shia minority on Twitter

Kuwait's public prosecutor has ordered a Sunni Twitter user to be detained for 21 days pending investigation on charges of allegedly insulting the faith of the Shia minority, his lawyer said Monday.

Mohammad Al-Mulaifi was summoned by the Kuwaiti secret service on 11 February after he wrote an article on his Twitter account that contained material deemed offensive to Shias, Yacoub Bahbood told AFP.

He was questioned over a number of charges by the prosecutor who on Sunday ordered his detention for three weeks, the lawyer said.

Kuwaiti Shias, who make up around a third of the native population of 1.17 million, staged a rally in protest against the article and demanded that authorities take action.

Mulaifi was questioned on charges of disparaging the Shia faith, promoting for a group that aims at dismantling the foundations of the society and spreading false news that undermines the image of Kuwait, Bahbood said.

Mulaifi, an employee of the ministry of Islamic affairs and a writer, categorically denied all the charges and insisted that he did not mean to insult any faith, the lawyer said.

Sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shias in the Gulf state increased rapidly in the past several months, reflecting regional tension over Bahrain and Syria.

Bahbood said he will appeal again for the public prosecutor to release his client, who is a widower and has four children.

Kuwaiti courts in September sentenced a Sunni and a Shia activist to three months in jail each for writing sectarian remarks on their Twitter accounts.

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