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50 Lashes for Twitter Insult

Saudi Arabian man sentenced to lashes for insulting his tribe on Twitter.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 8/20/2013, 4:02 PM

Computer (illustrative)
Computer (illustrative)
Flash 90

If you're planning on taking up a hobby as an internet troll, Saudi Arabia is probably somewhere to avoid.

A 30 year-old Saudi national was apparently sentenced to 50 lashes for insulting members of his own tribe on the Twitter microblogging site. 

According to the Riyadh Bureau website a group of tribesmen from a village near the city of Medina - Islam's 2nd holiest site - lodged a complaint against the man at a local police station, providing screenshots as proof. They asked the police to ban him from "harming" and insulting them, and to punish him for the offending tweets.

In his defense, the "suspect" said he had not meant to offend anyone from his village, and was simply responding to a columnist on Twitter.

But in spite of his protestations the man was found guilty and sentenced to lashes for breaking the "Anti e-Crimes Act" by committing a “criminal act that damages the bonds of cohesion and disturbs tribal peace,” according to the Arabic-language Al Watan newspaper.

He was also ordered to sign a pledge not to repeat the "offense."

Social media is viewed with deep suspicion throughout much of the Arab world as it is notoriously difficult to sensor, allowing dissidents and political opposition groups to communicate more freely and sometimes in anonymity.

There are an estimated 4 million active users of Twitter in Saudi Arabia alone.