Kristine L Ming

The Kuwaiti arrested for his tweet

Abo Asam is a well known in Kuwait for his satirical tweets

A charismatic human rights activist in Kuwait has been detained by police because his tweet was deemed to be “in contempt of religion”.

Abo Asam is a big star on Twitter in the country. His scathing brand of satire has attracted more than 115,000 followers on the network, but often landed him in trouble with the authorities too.

About two weeks ago, he posted a lengthy tweet in Arabic. The wording is complicated and doesn’t translate easily. In simple terms, It accuses a particular group – the Jamiya, from the Islamic Salafi sect – of blindly following their religious leader, Hamad al-Uthman.

The authorities considered the tweet offensive enough to warrant his arrest, and now Abo Asam has been detained for ten days, pending an investigation.

The arrest shocked many on Twitter, and the hashtag #الحرية_لبوعسم, which translates as “freedom for Abo Asam” has been used almost 8,000 times. He “always stands by the truth,” said one. “Is it possible that someone like Abo Asam could be imprisoned for a tweet? This is not Kuwait at all,” said another.

Kuwaiti citizens have traditionally enjoyed greater freedom of expression than those in more conservative neighbouring countries. But in recent months a wave of arrests has alarmed many social media users, who are used to being able to openly criticise their leaders. Abo Asam himself was arrested in April for a series of tweets which appeared to make fun of the Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah.

Reporting by Sumaya Bakhsh

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