March 15, 2013
Sandcrawler PSA: NO Free Speech in Palestine
RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank, Mar 14 2013 (IPS) - In an extraordinary move, a civilian has been sentenced to a year’s imprisonment for posting a picture on Facebook of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dressed in a Real Madrid soccer outfit and kicking a ball. The sentencing is among several instances of a targeting of media in Palestinian areas.
Anas Saad Awad, 26, from the northern West Bank village of Awarta near Nablus, was sentenced in the Nablus magistrate’s court, that convicted him of “criticising the government.” Awad was unable to address the court as the conviction was carried out while he was elsewhere in the court building.
Awad’s lawyer Rima Al Sayed said her client has been accused of photo-shopping a picture of Abbas wearing a Real Madrid shirt with the caption: ‘A new striker’. According to Sayed, the Palestinian judiciary had applied Article 195 of Jordan’s penal code, which criminalises criticism of the Jordanian king.
The use of Jordanian law by Palestine’s judiciary is not unusual. In addition to the Basic Law established in 2002, Palestinian law is an amalgam of Egyptian and Jordanian law and the codes left over from the era of the British Mandate. But the application of Jordanian law can frequently be used against Palestinians in labour disputes and “honour” crimes and speech.
“My son only commented on Facebook,” said Awad’s distressed father. “You know how young people comment. He didn’t mean to insult the president. I ask the president to intervene personally to cancel the court’s decision.”