Indian national arrested for blasphemous Facebook post

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Riyadh: The Indian consulate in Jeddah has confirmed the arrest of an Indian in Saudi Arabia for allegedly posting a blasphemous image of the Kaaba on his Facebook page, media reported Thursday.

Consul General B.S. Mubarak on Wednesday confirmed that the Indian national has been jailed for violating the country’s cyber laws, the Arab News reported on Thursday.

“This happened a month ago in Jeddah and the Saudi law enforcement authorities are currently conducting an investigation,” he said.

“We are trying to help him in the best possible way,” he added.

According to legal experts, once the investigations are over, judgement would be pronounced and only then would the consulate be able to enter a plea on his behalf.

Under the country’s cyber laws, anyone involved in the transmission or storage of material violating religious values and public morals, can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to three million Saudi riyals (about $800,000).

The image displayed on Facebook showed the Holy Kaaba plastered with Hindu deities. A Saudi national, shocked by the image, alerted the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, and an investigation was launched.

The Indian expatriate was arrested by the police at the airport and he admitted that the Facebook page was his, but said that he had seen a link to the picture on another account and that he had to click “Like” option to enable to see it.

The picture was automatically loaded onto his account, he said.

However, investigators held him guilty of breaking the country’s cyber law by publishing an offensive picture.

The man is said to have been in the country for only two years and was working for a catering company in Jeddah.

Social media experts said people needed to be very careful about posts on Facebook and Twitter.

“These are serious issues,” Adnan Akram, a consultant with an online security firm, was quoted as saying.

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