The Price of Blasphemy
Sadly, @old_gaes encourages others to find these girls and ex-atheists and report them to law officials, and the authorities are responding positively to it. @DubaiPoliceHQ, the official account for the Dubai police, tweeted back to @old_gaes after one report, asking him to please send any details he knew to a specific police email address.
In 2012, Kuwaiti legislators passed an amendment that says Muslims who curse their God, the Quran, or the Prophet Muhammad could be subject to the death penalty. If they publicly repent, their sentence can be reduced to five years in prison and/or a fine of 10,000 Kuwaiti dinars. Non-Muslims who commit this crime face up to ten years in jail.
In 2013, a Kuwaiti man was sentenced to five years behind bars for commenting on Shia and Sunni theology on Twitter. Another man received ten years for insulting Muhammad, as well as Saudi and Bahraini officials.
Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of the Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division, declared, “It’s an insult to all Kuwaitis for the government to give itself the authority to decide what’s insulting to religion, and to jail Kuwaitis for it. Let each Kuwaiti decide what he or she finds insulting, and as simple as clicking ‘unfollow,’ decide whether they want to see or hear a message.”
Sadly, @old_gaes refuses to merely unfollow, and his tweets have become even more disturbing…
Powerless and Twitterless
@old_gaes and his followers tweet out some truly terrible messages. “They live in our safety and eat from our God given bounties, but when they disrespect our faith you think they deserve mercy or forgiveness?” he wrote, referring to atheist and blasphemous comments.
“Now when a man defends his religion by utilizing the laws of the country he is being hateful but when a girl disrespects our religion it is nothing! strange world,” tweeted one follower.
Another victim of the harassment, who didn’t reveal her identity for her own safety, said, “He’s using scare tactics to silence people. This tactic is not new at all. Many Arab atheists, political dissenters, and LGBQT [users] are doxed into silence. That’s why you find many of these accounts are anonymous, so that if they are targeted, their identity won’t be revealed.”
Worst of all, this isn’t much Twitter can do about this proactive form of religious policing. Though the social media platform treats abuse, safety, and bullying very seriously, they had no comment about how exactly they assess threats to personal safety.
“Twitter is absolutely useless. They don’t take this sort of thing seriously,” said the anonymous woman.
Sadly, these zealots are pushing their religious beliefs upon others in a harmful, even lethal, ways, scaring potential dissenters from speaking their true feelings or even revealing their identities online. Only cowards hide behind blank profiles, but now their fear tactics are forcing others to do the same for fear of their own lives.
The internet should be a place of freedom, a place where people can come to learn many truths and schools of thought from around the globe, not merely the beliefs pressed upon them by their families, societies, or religions. And people shouldn’t be afraid to speak their true beliefs, especially on social platforms, which give them more freedom than they might find in their day-to-day lives. People like @old_gaes, who refuse to believe in these basic freedoms for the masses, put our very humanity at risk when they instigate these petty fights and deny us our right to speak out freely. His narrow beliefs leads not only to the silencing others, but quite possibly to their imprisonment, death, and shame. This is the worst kind of troll on the internet.
SHARE this terrifying reality and be thankful that our freedom of speech and religion is protected.