Oman warns citizens against cyber-sectarianism

Oman warns citizens against cyber-sectarianism
Oman's public prosecutor issued a surprise statement warning against acts of sectarianism online, as tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia heat up.
2 min read
07 Dec, 2016
Omanis have been warned against sharing sectarian material online [Getty]
Gulf state Oman has issued a stark warning to citizens about sharing "sectarian" videos online, warning of severe penalties for those found guilty of the crime.

Public Prosecutor Hussein al-Hilali issued a statement to press reminding them of harsh penalties for those found sharing videos on social media that "incite sectarian and religious strife" according to Gulf News.

Hilali reminded Omanis that sectarian incitement is a crime and he had ordered public prosecutors to clamp down on any such incidents.  

No explanation was given for the recent announcement, but there has been some unease about continued tensions between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and the Shia government in Iran, which some believe has sectarian roots.

There were hopes that a recent agreement on cutting oil production and consensus on the selection of a new head of state in Lebanon indicated that tensions were cooling.

But there are still many points of contention between the two regional powerhouses.

Despite being a GCC partner, Oman has not joined the Saudi-led coalition's war against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Meanwhile, Muscat has also remained on cordial terms with Tehran.

This week, Saudi King Salman al-Saud missed the sultanate out of his Gulf tour, although the monarch later met Oman's representative at the GCC summit on Tuesday.

Oman is a multi-religious state with an Ibadi-majority, along with smaller Sunni and Shia minorities.

Today, sectarian divisions are uncommon with Sultan Qaboos bin Said making unity a key goal during his 46-year rule.