A young man accused of inciting hatred against teachers and schools on social media has been given a 5-year jail term in Abu Dhabi, and fined 500,000 AED. Perhaps the least of his worries his Instagram account has also been shut down.
According to UAE based Al Khaleej newspaper, the sentenced man was a university student from the GCC, studying in Dubai. He posted a video on Instagram where he allegedly urged students to attack their teachers.
According to the report, the accused denied the charges, saying: "I didn't mean to mock the local (Emirati) accent, and I didn't intend to incite hatred or violence against any segment of society.
"Neither did I intend to disrupt the natural order of our schools."
He added, "My video was for illustrative purposes only, showing that fights such as these take place. It was meant for comedic relief amongst me and my friends who are of the same age group.
"We wanted to shed light and raise awareness, giving advice on such incidents. Only my friends and I saw the video on Instagram."
Using social media to incite hatred, or to purposefully cause harm to business or individuals, is a criminal offence. However, using it to illustrate an issue, as people often claim they are doing when they make a complaint, is fair use.
The difficulty, as this case illustrates, is when one type of usage steps over into the other.