Global Freedom of Expression

Español

The Case of Hamad Al-Naqi (Kuwait Twitter Blasphemy Case)

Closed Contracts Expression

Key Details

  • Mode of Expression
    Electronic / Internet-based Communication
  • Date of Decision
    June 5, 2012
  • Outcome
    Imprisonment
  • Region & Country
    Kuwait, Middle East and North Africa
  • Judicial Body
    Supreme (court of final appeal)
  • Type of Law
    Criminal Law
  • Themes
    Content Regulation / Censorship, Political Expression
  • Tags
    Blasphemy, Content-Based Restriction, On-line Expression, Social Media

Content Attribution Policy

Global Freedom of Expression is an academic initiative and therefore, we encourage you to share and republish excerpts of our content so long as they are not used for commercial purposes and you respect the following policy:

  • Attribute Columbia Global Freedom of Expression as the source.
  • Link to the original URL of the specific case analysis, publication, update, blog or landing page of the down loadable content you are referencing.

Attribution, copyright, and license information for media used by Global Freedom of Expression is available on our Credits page.

Case Analysis

Case Summary and Outcome

Hamad Al-Naqi, a Kuwaiti Shia blogger, was sentence by a Kuwaiti court to ten years imprisonment for violating Article 15 of the National Security Law and Article 111 of the Penal Code.  These charges stem from comments that he posted on Tweeter that criticized the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and insulted the Prophet Muhammed and his followers. His case was appealed on July 20, 2014, however, the lower court’s decision and sentence was affirmed.

Columbia Global Freedom of Expression could not identify the official legal and government records on the case and that the information contained in this report was derived from secondary sources. It must be noted that media outlets may not provide complete information about this case. Additional information regarding this legal matter will be updated as an official source becomes available.


Facts

In March 2012, Hamad Al-Naqi posted  comments to Twitter that were critical of the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain as well as the Prophet Muhammed and his followers. He was sentenced to ten years in prison on June 5, 2012. While in prison Al-Naqi has faced physical violence from other inmates. In response to this, authorities have placed Al-Naqi into solitary confinement. [1]

[1] Kuwait: 10 Years for Criticizing Neighboring Rulers, (June 7, 2012), http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/06/07/kuwait-10-years-criticizing-neighboring-rulers.


Decision Overview

On June 5, 2012, Kuwait’s Court of First Instance held that Al-Naqi was guilty of “insulting the Prophet, the Prophet’s wife and companions, mocking Islam, provoking sectarian tensions, insulting the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and misusing his mobile phone to spread the comments.” [1] The Court held  that Al-Naqi had violated both Article 15 of the National Security Law as well as Article 111 of the Kuwaiti Penal Code.

Article 15 of the National Security Law prescribes a minimum three year sentence for “intentionally broadcasting news, statements, or false or malicious rumors…that harm the national interest of the state.” [2] Additionally, Article 111 of the Penal Code states that a fine shall be imposed on anyone who “distributes, by any one of the public means specified in [A]rticle 101, opinions that include sarcasm, contempt, or belittling of a religion or a religious school of thought, whether by defamation of its belief system or its traditions or its rituals or its instructions.” [3]

Al-Naqi was charged under both Article 15 and Article 111 for not only insulting the Prophet Muhammed, his followers. And the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, but also for “spreading false information that was deemed to have tarnished Kuwait’s image abroad.” [4] The Court sentenced him to ten years in prison. His case was appealed on July 20, 20145 to the Kuwait’s highest court. However, the Court affirmed the lower courts sentencing.

[1] Kuwaiti gets 10 years for Twitter blasphemy, (June 4, 2012), http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-06-04/business/sns-rt-kuwait-prophetverdict-update-1l5e8h474w-20120604_1_shatti-sylvia-westall-kuwaiti-law.

[2] Kuwait: 10 Years for Criticizing Neighboring Rulers, (June 7, 2012), http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/06/07/kuwait-10-years-criticizing-neighboring-rulers.

[3] Kuwait: 10 Years for Criticizing Neighboring Rulers, (June 7, 2012), http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/06/07/kuwait-10-years-criticizing-neighboring-rulers.

[4] Kuwait activists decry social media curbs, (Aug. 25, 2012), https://uk.news.yahoo.com/kuwait-activists-decry-social-media-curbs-090209892.html#0TQGZfd.


Decision Direction

Quick Info

Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.

Contracts Expression

This case contracts freedom of expression because it criminalizes the promulgation of speech that criticizes government and religion.

Global Perspective

Quick Info

Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.

National standards, law or jurisprudence

  • Kuwait, Penal Law (Law No. 16 of 1960)

    Article 111

  • Kuwait, National Security Law (1971)

    Article 15

Case Significance

Quick Info

Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.

The decision establishes a binding or persuasive precedent within its jurisdiction.

Official Case Documents

Reports, Analysis, and News Articles:


Have comments?

Let us know if you notice errors or if the case analysis needs revision.

Send Feedback