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Those who incite: Satan's Brothers - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Two individuals each charged with four years imprisonment – that was the ruling issued by a British court with regards to the violent acts that the country witnessed recently, but the charge was “incitement to riot.” What prompted such a harsh sentence? One of the accused used Facebook to call on people to “smash up Northwich Town,” but he went out to the meeting place alone, and was arrested by police immediately. The other accused created a page called “Let’s Have a Riot in Latchford” where he lives, although the following day he removed the page and apologized.

The strongest description of these rulings was “harsh”, and it was an expression used by the press, a number of MPs, and officials from human rights organisations. But have we heard anyone describe these rulings as “wrong” or “subjective” or “reckless”? The answer is not at all, and this is because incitement in this case is considered a crime that cannot be neglected. In our countries however you can incite as much as you like, and mess around online as much as you like, as this is all considered “freedom of opinion” which must not be harmed. Woe unto anybody who disagrees with this, as there is no freedom at all for this opinion!

It is no exaggeration to say that what we are witnessing in our countries, electronically, is in complete contradiction to any alleged freedom; chaos prevails on the social network sites without any regulation or accountability. In Kuwait there are people who openly incite others to overthrow the ruling regime in Bahrain. In Bahrain there are people who call on others to overthrow the ruling regime in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia we find incitement in varying degrees; at the lowest level there are people who warn others of [the whereabouts of] Saher traffic cameras, and at the highest level there are those who give open support to a cell that is being tried for plotting to seize power. At the end of the day all these individuals, who carry out their illegal acts using their real names, spend their nights in the comfort of their own homes and with their families, without anybody harming them. The next day they will continue with the same incitement and shout out: our freedom has been taken away!

Those people act just like those who selectively use the Koranic verse “do not approach prayer,” [while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying, 4:43], as they defend freedom of opinion, but they do not acknowledge that there is a responsibility that comes with freedom of opinion. You find them competing to provoke their governments. They tweet insults on Twitter and when they are ignored they head towards Facebook and raise the tone of incitement. They are further enraged when they do not attract any attention, so they continue to scribble away on internet forums and when they find that they are still being ignored, they look for fame by making a poor-quality recording, threatening the security of their country, and post it on YouTube. There is no path of provocation and incitement that they do not pursue, and if this incitement leads to a legal case they come back and shout once again: our freedom has been taken away!

Free reins cannot be given without regulations, social networking sites must remain within the framework of responsible freedom of opinion. We have British Prime Minister David Cameron placing the blame on Facebook and Twitter for the recent violent acts in England, as he said, “Free flow of information can sometimes be a problem…Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill.”

The actions carried out by those who incite are similar to the work of Satan, who insinuates evil ideas into people’s minds. But Satan watches, and does not carry out any act himself. We are in the month of Ramadan and Satan is powerless, so it is the brothers of the devil, I mean those who incite, who are carrying out acts without any regulation or accountability. They disguise their words as the truth when they are in actual fact false. To hell with freedom of opinion if it is like this!

Salman Al-dossary

Salman Al-dossary

Salman Aldosary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

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