Kuwaiti Twitter User Arrested for Criticizing Bahrain, Saudi Arabia

Nasser Abul, a Shi'ite Muslim, tweeted information about anti-government protests in Bahrain; this is not the first time a blogger has been detained in Kuwait.

Tal Pavel
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Tal Pavel

A young Kuwaiti man was detained recently for his criticism of the Bahraini and Saudi royal families.

Bahraini Shi'ite Muslims chant slogans to free prisoners arrested during the crackdown on anti-government protesters during a Friday sermon in Diraz, Bahrain, June 10, 2011. Credit: AP

Nasser Abul, a Shi'ite Muslim, published the critical remarks via his Twitter feed, at a very high frequency, until June 7. Notable among his tweets was information about the recent anti-government protests in Bahrain. He also uploaded photographs of people killed in the protests. In most of the cases, he re-tweeted other users' messages via his own feed.

This is not the first time that a blogger has been detained in Kuwait. Three months ago, a local blogger was released from a two-month stint in prison for slandering the name of the prime minister.

Damaging the image of state officials is a Middle Eastern taboo, damaging information and criticism are not meant to be published on the internet. With this in mind, Abul's detention does not seem surprising, especially considering Kuwait's important ties with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

There has been a lot of tension within the Sunni Bahraini regime over the last few months following protests among Bahrain's Shi'ite community, which makes up the majority of the population of the country. This tension is added to by this year's dramatic events in the Middle East, which have shown that the written word made public via the internet can bring a regime to its knees.

Despite this, Kuwait does not have a reputation for being problematic in terms of freedom of expression. It is not considered one of the "world's enemies of the internet," and it is at the top of the list of countries in the region that protect individual freedom and freedom of expression.

Dr. Tal Pavel is an expert in the Middle East and Islamic World's usage of the internet and technology.



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