The United Arab Emirates has considered expressions of sympathy towards Qatar a crime, saying it will punish offenders with a jail term of up to 15 years, and warning that more punitive measures on the Gulf state remain on the table.
“Strict and firm action will be taken against anyone who shows sympathy or any form of bias towards Qatar, or against anyone who objects to the position of the United Arab Emirates, whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form,” UAE Attorney-General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi said Monday.
On top of a possible jail term, offenders would also be hit with a fine of at least 500,000 dirhams.
The United Arab Emirates, along with several other Gulf and Arab states, severed diplomatic relations with Qatar on Monday over its aggressive and irresponsible polices, said al-Shamsi.
Article 29 of the cybercrime law criminalizes any online publication of information “with intent to make sarcasm or damage the reputation, prestige or stature of the state or… any of its symbols,” a statement added.
Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, also told Reuters on Monday that more measures against Qatar, including further curbs on business, are not ruled out.
“What we are hoping is that our action will send some sense into the decision-makers in Qatar when they will see their overall interest is in not undermining their neighbours.”
“We hope that cooler heads will prevail, that wiser heads will prevail and we will not get to that,” Gargash said in an interview, referring to more curbs.
“But if we have to, these are all entanglements that we have to deal with as the crisis develops and create solutions to them and this will be a very, very sad course that we need to take, but I am hoping that cooler heads will prevail in Qatar.”
Gargash said Qatar must make an iron-clad commitment to change its policies before talks could begin to resolve the
In another interview with AFP, Gargash said the measures against Qatar are aimed at pressuring Doha into changing its policies, not at overthrowing its regime.
“This is not about regime change — this is about change of policy, change of approach,” he said, accusing Qatar of being “the main champion of extremism and terrorism in the region”.