Saudis Jail Kenyan Man for Chatting with Woman on Phone

AP Photo
AP Photo

20-year-old Juma Laki is a Kenyan who traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2013, looking for work. He just learned the hard way that chatting with a woman and keeping her photo on his smartphone is an “apparent contravention of the Sunni kingdom’s puritanical laws,” as Kenya’s Standard Digital puts it. After a friend sold him out to the Saudi “special police,” Laki found himself in jail.

Laki’s mother, Khadija Rashid, says her son has not been formally charged with a crime and has not appeared in court. There is no indication in the Standard Digital article of when he might be given a day in court, or released from jail.

Laki has evidently been working regularly in Saudi Arabia for some time, returning a substantial sum to help his family every month. “My husband, who used to work with Telkom Kenya, died in 1995, and I have been solely responsible for bringing up Laki and his four sisters,” his mother explained. “I am heart-broken ever since I got news about his incarceration in a foreign jail.”

The family has appealed to Haki Africa, a Kenyan human-rights organization, for assistance, after pleading with their government for help. A Haki Africa official explained that Kenyan agents are notorious for recruiting youths to work in oil-rich Gulf states, collecting a commission for their efforts, and then abandoning their young charges to the mercy of harsh regimes whose laws they don’t fully understand.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.