I think one would really be taking “a chance” (asking for trouble really) to insult His Majesty or say anything about how the government is run these days with what seems to be a major crackdown on those doing so in recent weeks.
4 Omanis have just been found quilty of “lèse-Majesté” ” under Article 126 of the Omani Criminal Law and Articles 16 and 19 of the Cybercrime Law” with 3 given a 1-year sentence and 1 with “only” 6-months” in jail. The news report I read was found in Muscat Daily and the article was titled “Primary Court convicts 4 for lèse-majesté“. “Lèse-Majesté” from the Latin means “injured majesty” and is “an offence against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state“. (from Wikipedia)
The term “Lèse-Majesté” brought back memories of French language training while in military college in Quebec. Another term that came to my mind when comtemplating this issue was “Laissez tomber“. “Laissez tomber” means “Let it go (or fall)” like “Just drop it (dude) and don’t worry about it!”
It brings up two vital questions:
- When does someone cross the line between freedom of speech and a violation of law (as in a major faux-pas), and
- How does one (such as a government) decide when to prosecute and when to “let it go”?
Some sovereign rulers wait until an appropriate amount of time or national holiday to “pardon the guilty”. I wonder if that will happen with the 4 men in question.
After reading the full report in Muscat Daily which lists the laws that were apparently violated, I am even more in doubt as to what is a breach of law and what isn’t!
“Article 126 of the Omani Criminal Law pertains to the offence of defaming His Majesty the Sultan or his authority publicly.”
“Article 16 of the Cybercrime Law states that whoever uses the Internet or other technology for taking photographs, spreading news, video or audio recordings about the private life of individuals, even if it is right, or for insulting or defaming others, is liable for punishment.” (Even if it is right?!?!?! Huh?!) Have I taken photographs or spread news about someone’s private life?! I guess it depends on who’s judging!
Article 19 states that using the Internet for spreading or promoting something that affects religious values or the public order is punishable. (I don’t even know what that means. What if someone “feels” that means me?! Will that mean a year in prison?! Hello! I am a Christian blogger in the Middle East! Am I “affecting religious values“?!)
More questions than answers…