UAE police to investigate ‘outrageous’ Instagram post

An Emirati lawyer on Tuesday filed a police complaint against a social media user who posted unflattering comments about Emirati women and the UAE on Instagram.

ABU DHABI // An Emirati lawyer on Tuesday filed a police complaint against a social media user who posted unflattering comments about Emirati women and the UAE on Instagram.

An FNC member, two Emirati lawyers, officials and hundreds of women complained about the user, thought to be a Moroccan woman, whose post insulting Emirati women went viral.

Women demanded that the person responsible be held accountable and receive the maximum penalty – which ranges from a fine of Dh500,000 or a prison term for cyber crimes, to life in prison if convicted of threatening national security.

This is the second police complaint filed against the user. The first was from another lawyer on February 7.

The Instagram post by user maghribia123 began circulating at the beginning of this month. In the post, the user said all Emirati women were spinsters, divorced or had recently become widows of soldiers so they were useless. The user asks Emirati men what they think of throwing all Emirati women out of the country because all “these spinsters, divorcees and widows” are crowding Moroccan women.

It immediately caused outrage and FNC member Saeed Al Rumaithi was first to contact Emirati lawyer Ali Al Mansoori and ask that he file a complaint with the police. “When the post started circulating, many people were outraged and demanded something be done about it,” Mr Al Rumaithi said.

“This is a criminal act and so I contacted Mr Al Mansoori. We want people to know that even if you post such comments on social media, you will be held accountable.”

Mr Al Mansoori filed a case on February 7, while lawyer and legal consultant Dr Yousif Al Sharif filed a complaint on Tuesday.

The case is under investigation. “The police are contacting authorities to find out the identity of maghribia123,” Mr Al Mansoori said.

The Instagram account has been deleted and, to date, there is no information on the user.

Mr Al Mansoori said the user could receive a life sentence if prosecution found the comments to be a threat to national security.

Dr Al Sharif said his office had received threatening calls since he announced two weeks ago on his weekly radio programme that he would press charges. Thirty Emirati women have come forward to give him power of attorney to press charges.

Lawyers need only two people to complain to file a complaint.

Dr Al Sharif said such comments could threaten national security and relations with other countries.

“The nationality is not the issue, and the user might not even be a woman or Moroccan. This message might have been intentionally posted to cause tensions between Moroccans and Emiratis,” he said.

Emirati Fatima AlAhbabi, 35, was one of the first to give Dr Al Sharif power of attorney to press charges on her behalf.

“This woman does not represent Moroccan women in any way. I have many Moroccan friends who are as outraged as we [Emiratis] are. She does not speak or represent anyone.

“In the UAE we were raised to respect everyone, whatever nationality, but this person’s post has made our blood boil. We were all so surprised that anyone would say such hideous things about us.”

She said that maghribia123 should be used as an example for anyone who tried to insult the UAE.

“This person should be punished and like her message has gone viral, they too should be brought before us and shown to everyone and punished.”

Sheikha Abdullah, 33, was upset about maghribia123’s comment on the widows of Emirati soldiers. “How dare she?” she said. “These women’s husbands sacrificed their lives for the security of the nation. These women and their families have our utmost respect ... how dare anyone mock them?”

salnuwais@thenational.ae

Published: February 23, 2016 04:00 AM

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