Protect Free Speech in Kuwait

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Target: Kuwait Central Prison

Goal: Free Kuwaiti citizen Hamad al-Naqi, imprisoned for a “blasphemous tweet,” in order to preserve free speech in Kuwait.

Hamad al-Naqi, a member of the country’s Shi’a minority, has been sentenced to ten years in prison with hard labour. The reason for his incarceration: posts to Twitter deemed by authorities as “insulting to Islam.” This is a direct attack on free speech; al-Naqi must be freed.

Since his arrest on March 27, 2012, al-Naqi has been held in Kuwait Central Prison, and has been denied bail. His lawyer, Khalid al-Shatti, says that he plans to appeal the conviction because he has not been allowed to have a copy of the case file or have access to his client (especially in the early stages of the trial).

Under Article 15 of Kuwait’s National Security Law, broadcasting a statement that might be construed to endanger state security is punishable with three years of prison. And several other social networkers in Kuwait are facing prosecution for expressing their personal opinions on blogs and on Twitter.

Currently, al-Naqi claims that his Twitter account was hacked, and that the messages posted were not his own. One of the tweets was deemed “blasphemous” for insulting the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad and his wife. And after the messages were sent, members of Kuwait’s majority Sunni community lodged a series of complaints against al-Naqi and demanded that he be put to death for “blasphemy.”

Criticizing religion is a protected form of self-expression, not a criminal act. The Kuwaiti authority must take urgent steps to amend their laws so that no further citizen is imprisoned just for expressing their thoughts on religion in a public forum, particularly when these thoughts are not inciting hatred or violence. We ask that Kuwaiti authorities release Hamad al-Naqi.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Kuwait Central Prison,

The ability to speak freely about religion is an inalienable right. No man or woman deserves to be punished for expressing a personal opinion, especially one that does not incite any hatred or violence. Hamad al-Naqi has been imprisoned since March for a series of posts to Twitter that were considered to be insulting to Islam. But “insult” is not reason enough to imprison a man for 10 years with hard labour. We ask that Hamad al-Naqi be immediately released.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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