KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s court of appeals Thursday reduced a seven-year jail term of a Sunni tweeter to a six-month imprisonment for allegedly insulting the faith of the Shia minority, his lawyer said.
“The (appeals) court reduced Mohammad al Mulaifi’s jail term to just six months,” Fahad al Braikan told AFP. The case will now go to the supreme court for a final decision, he said.
The reduction of the jail term came after the court acquitted Mulaifi, a writer, from the charges of spreading false news about the Gulf state and promoting an illegal clandestine group, according to the court ruling.
He was convicted only on the count of disparaging the Shia faith in an Internet article which he posted on his Twitter account in February.
Kuwaiti Shias, who make up around a third of the native population of 1.18 million, staged a rally in protest against the article and demanded that authorities take action.
Mulaifi, an employee of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and a widower with four children, had categorically denied all the charges and insisted that he did not mean to insult any faith.
Sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shias in the Gulf state have increased rapidly in the past several months, reflecting regional tension over Bahrain and Syria.
Kuwaiti courts over the past several months have clamped down on Sunni and Shia activists accused of committing religious offences, sentencing several of them to various jail terms. Several others are currently on trial.
Earlier this month, Kuwait’s appeals court upheld a 10-year jail term on tweeter Orance al Rasheedi for insulting the Gulf state’s ruler and calling for the overthrow of the regime.
The lower court is scheduled to issue a verdict Monday on Shia tweeter Mohammad al Naqi on charges of insulting Islam’s Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), his wife Aisha (RA) and some of his companions (RA).