Lebanese doctor arrested in UAE for 'mocking Emirati names'
A Lebanese doctor has been arrested in the United Arab Emirates for old tweets that mocked Emirati last names, according to reports.
Gynaecologist Richard Kharrat was visiting Abu Dhabi when he was reportedly detained in his hotel last week. There was no official reason given for his arrest, but multiple reports suggest it was because of some old tweets that offended Abu Dhabi.
By doing so, UAE’s Prosecutor proved that his country is nothing more than a joke (not a funny one even), and its rulers are mere clowns who get threatened by funny jokes— Diana E. Jaalouk 🇱🇧 (@Diana_Jaalouk) April 3, 2022
Free #ريشار_خراط https://t.co/9Ydzz8ULxJ
One of the tweets that led to his arrest was a joke from October 2020 comparing the last names of Emirati and Lebanese families, in which he used “Nahyan” - the last name of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family.
Kharrat has been accused of other several derogatory tweets in the past, including one in which he expressed his desire for the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen - against whom the UAE is waging a bloody war - to attack Dubai's Burj Khalifa, L’Orient Le Jour reported.
FREEDOM FOR RICHARD KHARRAT#ريشار_خراط pic.twitter.com/LpPacW77Aq— Freedomforrichard (@Freedomforrich2) April 4, 2022
Since his arrest, reports have come to light about a previous case against Kharrat in which he was accused of medical malpractice that led to the death of two children of one of his former patients, Lebanese journalist Nicole Hajal.
Hajal’s lawyer Carole Racy confirmed that she had filed a malpractice suit against Kharrat, but insisted that the case had nothing to do with his arrest in the UAE.
“Although my client filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Kharrat, she never wanted to mention his name in public, considering it a private matter. So how can one say that she had something to do with her arrest?” Racy was quoted by L’Orient Le Jour as saying.
Hundreds of Lebanese social media users have taken to Twitter to call for Kharrat's release and repatriation.
The UAE has been known to imprison foreign nationals over social media posts.
In 2019, a British woman was detained for allegedly calling her ex-husband’s new wife a “horse” on social media three years prior. The woman faced two years in prison and a $65,000 fine.