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Saudi Government Outlaws Satire; Violators To Face Five-Year Prison Sentences

from the suck-it,-bin-Salman dept

Lately, real life pretty much anywhere in the world has threatened to kill off satire. The surrealism of day-to-day politics, combined with the increasing embrace of extreme viewpoints by world leaders, has made satire all but impossible.

The Saudi government isn’t content to let satire die of natural causes. It’s going to nuke it from prosecutorial orbit.

Saudi Arabia will punish online satire that “disrupts public order” with up to five years in prison, the public prosecutor said Tuesday, as the kingdom cracks down on dissent.

“Producing and distributing content that ridicules, mocks, provokes and disrupts public order, religious values and public morals through social media … will be considered a cybercrime punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of three million riyals ($800,000),” the public prosecution tweeted late Monday.

A “cybercrime.” OK, then. $800,000 for mockery and ridicule of religious values or public morals. Mohammed bin Salman’s consolidation of power continues. As the article points out, bin Salman has been “heavily criticized” by human rights groups for numerous actions he’s undertaken. As the article doesn’t point out, this criticism isn’t having much effect. Perhaps someone could do something more drastic… like yank Saudi Arabia’s G20 Summit hosting privileges until it starts respecting a human rights again.

The Saudi government has been jailing citizens for a few years now. It mainly targets Twitter users, some of whom have somehow “harmed public order” by not properly praising the state-sponsored religion. The government has also opened a “see something, say something” hotline to report satire and other such upsetters of public order to better aid bin Salman in eliminating dissent.

Criticism and mockery of government and religions is what sets apart countries with freedom from those without. Authoritarians are cowards — unwilling to even allow criticism, much less respond to it. Iron fists swaddled in the softest gloves to prevent even the faintest of bruising.

It’s one thing to see someone like bin Salman jailing his country’s own citizens for criticizing him or the government’s official religion and feel powerless to stop it. It’s quite another when leaders from the “free” world are willing to overlook bin Salman’s actions to avoid upsetting the “public order” of a 2020 summit playdate. These world leaders look no less cowardly for refusing to take this step.

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Comments on “Saudi Government Outlaws Satire; Violators To Face Five-Year Prison Sentences”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

If you need to demand it, you're not worthy of it

It mainly targets Twitter users, some of whom have somehow "harmed public order" by not properly praising the state-sponsored religion.

If someone feels that they need to force respect for something, whether that be a person or religion, they have instead revealed that the desired target for ‘respect’ deserves none of it, and instead deserves contempt, mockery, or both.

An honest person will not feel the need to tell you how honest they are.

A respectable person will not find it necessary to tell you how respectable they are.

By demanding respect and praise and punishing refusal to give it they instead admit that they don’t believe they could get it under anything less than a threat, and as such do not deserve it.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Globally?

If it wouldn’t require someone to face a potentially ruinious lawsuit I would almost hope they would try to go after someone in the US, as a lawsuit like that would be the perfect opportunity for further mockery and drawing attention to the Suadi government trying to punish someone for saying mean things about them/their religion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Globally?

Can we do this? I’m sure we could start a Twitter campaign and get a few thousand people to openly mock him on Twitter.

As far as consequences, as bad as the U.S. can be sometimes, there’s no way they would let a U.S. citizen be extradited for simply exercising their Constitutionally protected First Amendment right. The shitstorm that would descend on the government for doing that would be massive, yet glorious to watch.

Jim P. (profile) says:


Shouldn’t be long before Trump hires him as a consultant since despots of any stripe loathe satire and parody into the depths of their non-existent souls.

Nothing riles a dictator faster than being laughed at and no religion can withstand the bright light of comedy as few religious practices make sense or even look rational when looked at with laughter in mind.

The whips and executiomner’s sword won’t be far behind. The world seems willingly headed back into a dark age of hate and fear and “faith” as an equal to facts and “God wills it” as an excuse for any social or government-backed evil.

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