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Saudi Woman Sentenced to 70 Lashes for Insulting Husband on WhatsApp

A Saudi Arabian court in Al-Qatif sentenced a 32-year-old woman to 70 lashes and a fine of 20,000 Saudi Riyals ($5,333.33) after she insulted her husband on the WhatsApp mobile app.

She wrote, “I pray to be patient enough to put up with you,” along with his initials. The husband found the message and told the court he was “‘embarrassed’ and felt his reputation was being ‘tarnished.’”

The status led to a divorce.

“We were already miles apart in our relationship so I decided to divorce her before she retold my entire life story on social media,” he said.

The court claimed the woman is “guilty of tarnishing the reputation of the complaint [sic] through the application.” The man filed the complaint after “an argument with the woman.” The officials did not explain the disagreement, but the woman “admitted she had insulted the man.” She also “rejected the court ruling.”

Saudi Arabia’s Anti-Cyber Crime Law under Article Three says that “whoever defames or inflicts damage upon others through various information technology devices ‘shall be subject to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year and a fine not exceeding SR500,000 [$133,306.61] or to either punishment.’”

On March 5, Saudi Arabian authorities arrested an Indian national when he posted “a controversial photo of Mecca’s Grand Mosque juxtaposed with Hindu religious symbols on Facebook.” A citizen brought the evidence to the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, which is the Saudi religious and morality police. Authorities arrested the man at the airport, but he claimed he “‘liked’ a link just to see the picture and the photo automatically uploaded on his Facebook page.”

In January, authorities arrested the man who filmed a brutal video of a woman beheaded in public in Mecca. Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Turki told The New York Times via text message that “such matters fell under the country’s law against cybercrimes,” confirming the arrest.

The religious police shut down over 10,000 Twitter accounts “in 2014 over religious violations.”

“The crimes include religious or moral violations via the Internet,” said Turki Al-Shulail, the spokesman of the morality police. “The number of these accounts has increased during the last five years and there is a need to put an end to them and arrest the users who publish material against our religion and society.”

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