A Saudi court sentenced a man to 50 lashes for publishing insulting tweets against his own tribe, the daily al-Watan reported Friday.
The newspaper said that a group of people from a village near Medina complained at the local police station that the 30-year-old man has used social media site Twitter to write insults against their tribe, producing screenshots from the site as evidence against him. The tribesman reportedly asked the police to ban him from harming them, stop his insults and punish him for what he did.
The man said the statements that provoked his relatives came in a reply to a columnist on Twitter and that he did not intend to offend anyone from his village. But the judge considered what the man did as a “criminal act that damages the bonds of cohesion and disturbs tribal peace,” the newspaper said.
The court found him guilty of breaking the Anti e-Crimes Act and sentenced him to 50 lashes. He was also ordered to sign a pledge not to repeat the offense.
With the the government imposing many restrictions on free speech in mainstream media, social media has offered popular online outlets for Saudis to express themselves and talk about their issues. It is estimated that there are 4 million active users of Twitter in the country posting more than 50 million tweets per month.
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