Release Man Imprisoned for Satirical Video


Target: Mohammad Al Murr, President, Federal National Council, United Arab Emirates

Goal: Release young American imprisoned for sharing a video parody

Shezanne Cassim was imprisoned by the United Arab Emirates in April of 2013 for posting a satirical comedy video to YouTube. The playful video was found to “endanger national security,” according to a federal cyber crime law designed to maintain public order. For over nine months, he has been held in a high security prison.

in 2012, while working for a consulting firm in Dubai, the former University of Minnesota student and some friends uploaded a parody of “Satwa G,” an aspect of youth culture in the United Arab Emirates. The next year, he and eight others were arrested in and charged with violating a cyber crime law implemented after the video was posted.

This cyber crime law has been used to imprison activists calling for social change as well as filmmakers aiming to expose human rights violations. Dozens of social media users have found themselves jailed for comments critical of the government or government entities.

The video was said to endanger national security and public order, with no explanation as to how. Cassim is currently being held in a maximum security prison in the capital, Abu Dhabi. He has been denied bail with no reason given. He has also been made to sign court documents written in Arabic, which he cannot read.

In a country such as the United Arab Emirates that projects itself as modernized, there is no place for freedom of speech violations like these. Demand that Shezanne Cassim be immediately released and all charges dropped.


Dear Mohammad Al Murr, President, Federal National Council, United Arab Emirates,

Since April of 2013, Shezanne Cassim has been held in a maximum security prison, denied bail with no explanation. The young American posted a satirical video to YouTube about “Satwa G,” a hip-hop influenced youth subculture while working in Dubai. He was arrested, accused of endangering national security and public order, and imprisoned under a cyber crime law not passed until after the video was posted.

While in prison, he has been forced to sign court documents in Arabic, which he cannot read. Some inmates say that he appears gaunt and low-spirited. The video, a harmless parody, has in no way harmed the national security or public order of the United Arab Emirates. I demand that this violation of free speech be amended by releasing Cassim without charge.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Nepenthes via Wikimedia Commons

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