Home | Friday 12th August 2011 | Issue 783
UAE HAVING A LAUGH
Over 70 well known comedians and authors are to lead a campaign during the festival to free the five civil rights activists detained in the Middle East. Ahmed Mansoor (a blogger), Nasser bin Ghaith (a lecturer), Fahad Salim Dalk, Ahmed Abdul Khaleq and Hassan Ali al-Khamis (online activists) all face up to 5 years imprisonment for breaking the UAE’s stringent code of conformity. The country’s penal code basically prohibits slandering the President, or any of its supreme (you don’t get a choice to vote for me) council, or defacing the flag or any national emblem.
Amnesty will ask audiences during the fringe to sign up to a global petition that is campaigning for the activists to be freed through texts messages or postcards. The organisation believes their case is particularly significant considering the fact they were imprisoned for actions before the Arab spring reached full flow. Their crime was supporting a petition challenging the ruling families in the UAE to stop making membership in the Emirate’s federal council so restricted. Strictly speaking they had posted on online forums that have since then been closed down and replaced with travelling advice (no better way to take your minds off things than a little holiday, eh?).
Fringe old timer, Ed Byrne said, “People have a right of free speech and for the UAE five that right is being denied.” Well that is the polite way of putting it.