Kuwaiti author charged over 'insulting' Prophet tweets

Kuwaiti author charged over 'insulting' Prophet tweets
A Kuwaiti author and teacher has been criticised and called for questioning by the public prosecution for posting tweets deemed offensive to Prophet Muhammad.
3 min read
23 Nov, 2015

Kuwaiti author and teacher Sara al-Drees is facing charges of "insulting the Prophet" after crtiticising one of his wives on Twitter, according to local media.

Last week, the Kuwaiti public prosecution issued an arrest warrant for Drees following a report filed earlier this month by lawyer Khaled al-Shamri, accusing her of insulting Prophet Muhammad.

"If you read the story of Safiyah bint Hayi, you would learn the truth about the Islamic State [IS]," she said in a tweet.

Drees argued that the historical narrative of Safiyah bint Hayi, a Jewish woman whom the Prophet married the day her father, brother, and husband were killed in the Battle of Khaybar between Muslims and Jews, went against the true Islamic Sharia, and that it was being used by extremist groups, such as IS, to justify their crimes.

The author later apologised for any misunderstanding she might have caused, while criticising the massive campaign that was launched against her, including demands to dismiss her from her job as a teacher.

"Apologies for everyone who misunderstood, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Only God knows people's intentions, and only he can hold us accountable. I only meant to defend the Prophet against misinterpretations. Thank you," she tweeted.

Some Twitter users launched the Arabic hashtag "Sara al-Drees insults the Prophet" to criticise her controversial views, while others used the hashtag to support her right to express them freely.

"She's a fame-seeking vile person who deserves to be punished," one user tweeted.

"The education minister must sack any teacher who insults God, the Prophet, or the teachings of Islam, as such teacher would not deserve the honour of the profession," a user said in a tweet.

"This is the legacy left behind by Islamists; tyranny, oppression, and takfir [declaring people apostates]," another user tweeted.

The Kuwaiti author compared the extremist mentalities who criticised her tweets to IS members.

"I do not know how you criticise IS when there is an IS fighter inside each one of you, inciting against me, imprisoning me, and slaughtering me despite my explanation and apology!" she tweeted.

Drees, who is currently in London, commented on the arrest warrent in a tweet saying that she was returning to Kuwait and intend to cooperate with the investigation, insisting she had done nothing wrong.

In 2013, a Kuwaiti appeal court upheld a 20-month prison sentence on Drees for posting political comments on Twitter.

"The Kuwait authorities over the past year have prosecuted dozens of people for peaceful political statements," Joe Stork, the then acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said at the time.

"The government should tolerate this kind of criticism, not persecute people who dare express it."

"Kuwait used to have a better reputation than most other Gulf states in respecting the right to free speech," Stork added.

"But with each case like this, the authorities are lowering themselves to the standards of the rest of the region."