Support for Qatar Could Land You in Jail, U.A.E. Warns Residents

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Residents of the United Arab Emirates who express support or sympathy for Qatar on social media could face a jail term of up to 15 years, the public prosecutor has said.

The penalties come under the U.A.E.’s strict cybercrime law, introduced in 2012, which stipulates punishments for online acts from defamation to harming national unity. The U.A.E. joined Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries on Monday in breaking diplomatic relations with Qatar and closing transport routes, accusing its neighbor of supporting extremists, including proxies of Shiite Muslim Iran and the Sunni militants of al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

“Strict and firm action will be taken against anyone who shows sympathy or any form of bias towards Qatar, or against anyone who objects to the position of the United Arab Emirates” on any platform, Attorney General Hamad Saif Al Shamsi said in a statement carried by Al Bayan and other local newspapers.

Offenders will face a jail term of three to 15 years and a fine not less than 500,000 dirhams ($136,000). “This decision is to protect the U.A.E.’s national security, its strategic interests and the interest of its people,” Al Shamsi said.

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