Slandering and threatening a person online including blackmailing, bullying, and threatening is punishable by law.
Qatar’s public prosecution has detained an unspecified number of Twitter users for launching an attack on a national athlete who represented Qatar during an international tournament, authorities confirmed in a statement.
Public Prosecutor Dr. Issa bin Saad Al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi “ordered the imprisonment of those who abused a female citizen after achieving an achievement in one of the sports fields for the benefit of the state,” the statement read in Arabic.
Qatar said it enforces punishments for actions that are deemed contrary to public interests, “contrary to social principles and values, provoking racial strife and hatred, and spreading a spirit of discord among members of society,” the statement added.
As per Qatari law, posting news, pictures, or videos in relation to a person or their family without their consent on the internet is punishable of up to a 100,000 riyal fine and 3 year jail time. In addition, slandering and threatening a person online including blackmailing, bullying, and threatening can carry the same jail time and fine.
Users online were supportive of the latest move.
“Abuse is disgraceful and humiliating behaviour, which includes disrespect and impoliteness,” one Twitter user exclaimed. “Good on them for this decision so that everyone respects himself and respects others, whether he is a citizen or a resident.”
Some have also taken the offence to heart, implying that the abuse directed at an athlete representing the nation is disrespectful to the country.
“I am surprised at what is happening of some insults to the State of Qatar and its people,” another user said in a chain discussion online.
But some others were more empathetic and asked for this to be a learning experience for those accused.
“The youth made a mistake; may God guide them. We hope that it was just recklessness, as most of our children do not understand racism, God willing,” a user commented online. “But sometimes critical comments are misplaced… We hope that their detention will not be prolonged.”
Details about the accused remain sparse, and more information will emerge with further press releases from the public prosecution.