A Tunisian Court [official website] sentenced British DJ Dax J [professional profile] to a year in prison on Thursday for public indecency and offending public morality after the artist played [guardian report] a remix of the Muslim call to prayer in a nightclub. The nightclub was subsequently shut down and charges were filed against the club’s owner and the organizer of the event where Dax J was playing – these charges were subsequently dropped and the prosecution appealed the dropped charges claiming the owner and organizer still maintain liability. Tunisia’s religious affairs ministry commented on the charges and conviction and said: “Mocking the opinions and religious principles of Tunisians is absolutely unacceptable.”
Free speech has often come under fire throughout the world and many nations and legislations have attempted to curb it through social media monitoring and public safety legislation. In January, the Jordanian government arrested eight activists and charged them with “insulting the King” and “incitement to spread chaos to undermine the political regime of Jordan using social media.” Earlier that month, Human Rights Watch criticized [JURIST report] Saudi Arabia for their detainment of rights advocates often through vague provisions, such as “sowing discord” and “inciting public opinion,” in the nation’s 2007 cybercrime law. In August of last year the National Assembly of Pakistan approved [JURIST report] the controversial Electronic Crimes Bill 2015. The law has received negative attention in the past from human rights activists for the role it could play in hindering the free speech and privacy of Pakistani citizens. Last March, Amnesty International expressed concern [JURIST report] over the cyber-crime conviction of five-years incarceration of a journalist in Saudi Arabia for posts created under this private Twitter account; some of of the tweets exhibited support for women’s rights, human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience.