Tuesday, December 31, 2013

From The National (UAE):

Eight people accused of defaming the UAE’s image abroad by producing a spoof documentary have received prison sentences.

American S C and Indians R and A were jailed for a year and fined Dh10,000 each by the State Security Court.

Two Emirati brothers, S D and S D, were given eight months and Dh5,000 fines. A third brother, AD, was pardoned.

A Canadian woman, a British woman and an American man were not detained and were sentenced in absentia to a year in prison and a Dh10,000 fine each.

The judge also ruled that copies of the video should be confiscated.

The 19-minute film was set in Satwa, Dubai, which they depicted as a dangerous neighbourhood plagued by warring gangs. To protect themselves, the characters practise martial arts using items of Emirati national dress including the agal, the black rope worn around the headdress, and naal, the leather slippers.

The detained American, a business consultant and amateur stand-up comedian and the convicted Emirati brothers – one a media and marketing manager and rapper, the other a student and part-time airline worker – posted the video on YouTube in October last year. They were arrested in April this year.

Defence lawyers said their clients had not intended to mock the UAE’s culture or harm its reputation overseas.

They said the video was only intended to be a satire about how suburban teenagers had adopted gang culture and that the video started with a disclaimer saying: “The following events are fictional and no offence was intended to the people of Satwa and UAE.”

The two Emiratis have already spent eight months in prison awaiting the verdict and are expected to be released soon. The American and two Indians will be released next month.
The American's name is Shezanne Cassim; he was born in Sri Lanka and went to University of Minnesota.

Here's the video. A bit long and not quite as funny as they probably intended, but it is harmless...unless you are a thin-skinned UAE official.

I'm sure that jailing eight people (and demanding that all copies of the video be confiscated!)  will ensure that the UAE's sterling reputation remains flawless.

By the way, the UAE will host major concerts this year, including Santana, Eric Clapton, the Backstreet Boys, and Herbie Hancock. No one is calling for these artists to boycott the misogynist, intolerant country or to show support for an American in jail for exercising his right to express himself.

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