UAE police to investigate 'outrageous' Instagram post​

UAE police to investigate 'outrageous' Instagram post​
3 min read
24 February, 2016
An Emirati lawyer has filed a police complaint against a social media user who posted unflattering comments about Emirati women and the UAE on Instagram.
The UAE's cybercrime law 5/2012 criminalises all forms of "electronic abuse" [AFP]

An Instagram user is facing police investigation over a post with offensive comments about Emirati women and the UAE, Emirati website The National reported on Tuesday.

The investigation was launched after an Emirati lawyer filed a police report following complaints by hundreds of women, according to the Emirati website.

Offended by the Instagram post that went viral after insulting Emirati women, the complainants demanded that the person responsible be held accountable and receive the maximum penalty.

This is the second police complaint filed against the user. The first was from another lawyer on earlier this month.

In the Instagram post, which began circulating at the beginning of February, the user said all Emirati women were spinsters, divorced or had recently become widows of soldiers, so they were "useless".

The user also asked Emirati men what they thought of throwing all Emirati women out of the country because all "these spinsters, divorcees and widows" are crowding Moroccan women.

Saeed al-Rumaithi, member of the Federal National Council and the man behind the police complaint, described the post as a "criminal act".

"We want people to know that even if you post such comments on social media, you will be held accountable," he said.

The Instagram account has been deleted and, to date, there is no information on the user, who is thought to be a Moroccan woman.

"In the UAE we were raised to respect everyone, whatever nationality, but this person’s post has made our blood boil," said 35-year-old Emirati woman Fatima al-Ahbabi, one of the first complainants.

"We were all so surprised that anyone would say such hideous things about us," she added.

'Where are the Priorities?'

Despite the large number of complaints, other social media users disagreed with the hype around the post, calling on the police to drop the case and focus on more important matters.

"Maybe the UAE police should take these efforts and concentrate a little more on human trafficking," one Facebook user commented.

"Shouldnt these Emirati women be more outraged about all the human trafficking that ruins the UAE reputation than about an Instagram post?" another user said.

Maybe the UAE police should take these efforts and concentrate a little more on human trafficking.
- Facebook user

"Where are the priorities? And life imprisonment for an insult? Why is wounded pride a worse crime than drug trafficking or murder?"

Another user described news of the case as the "saddest" she had ever read.

"In essence, a whole country is chasing gossip," she said.

"How can you say it's a national security threat? Will diplomatic relations between the two countries really fail because of women's talk?" she added.

Cybercrime in the UAE

The UAE's cybercrime law 5/2012 criminalises all forms of "electronic abuse".

According to the law, anyone found guilty of a cybercrime could face up to life imprisonment and/or a fine varying between 50,000 Dirhams ($13,600) and three million Drihams ($816,800).

The law can also punish people who use "foul language" on the WhatsApp messaging service with fines of up to $68,000 - and expatriates can expect to be deported.

In January, an Abu Dhabi court began the trial of a man for allegedly sharing a poem on WhatsApp that ridiculed the UAE and its martyrs.

Earlier the same month, two men were detained for seven days after taking "selfies" outside a Dubai hotel while it was on fire.

However, the city's public prosecution decided to release the two young men after a thorough investigation into the photo posted on social media found no evidence of criminal intent.

If convicted, the young men would also have faced three years in jail and a fine of no less than 30,000 Dirhams ($8,000).