Well things could be worse I suppose. Take the case of 26 year old Hamad al-Naqi. Reuter's is reporting that a Kuwaiti judge found him guilty of, "insulting the prophet, the prophet's wife, the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and of misusing a mobile phone to spread his offensive remarks." In other words, watch what you tweet in Kuwait, there is no telling who will see it and what they will do about it.
Al-Naqi denied the charges and maintains that his twitter account was hacked by a person, or persons unknown. The judge, Hirsham Abdullah was having none of his excuses and hit him with the maximum of ten years. The sentence was protested by some Kuwaiti officials who are clamoring for al-Naqi to be executed. Indeed last month, the Parliament of Kuwait endorsed an amendment that would make insulting God and the prophet by any Muslim a crime punishable by death. Now that is political correctness.
Al-Naqi's attorney maintains that even if he did actually tweet the remarks he is guilty of a "crime of opinion," rather than a crime against national security. Unfortunately in some places one's opinion is a crime against national security if it differs from those in charge. It is a lesson Mr. al-Naqi just learned the hard way. After all Kuwait isn't Norway, where Anders Breivik's maximum sentence will be barely more than twice that of al-Naqi's and he killed 77 people.
The reality is, as it always is in that part of the world, a bit more complicated. Al-Naqi is a Shi'ite and the people running the shows in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are all Sunnis. Tensions between the gulf states and Saudi Arabia and Iran are growing almost daily. It comes as no surprise then that al-Naqi has been accused of having links to Iran, which he also denies.
There is a move by the Saudis to unite their armed forces with those of the gulf states and to present a solid front in the region when it comes to foreign policy and defense. Many Shi'ites and the ruling clergy in Iran see this as a power grab by Saudi Arabia. Iran desperately wants to be viewed as the single super power in the region. They would love to be able to undermine the gulf state rulers and get rid of the Saudi royal family. During the ensuing chaos they would emerge as the next great thing in world power politics. Their proxies installed in places like Kuwait and Bahrain would toe the Iranian line. It would be a sort of Shi'ite version of the Warsaw Pact with the Ayatollahs in charge. Not only would they have a couple of nukes, but more importantly control most of the world's oil reserves.
So with the stakes set so high in a place where no one has a sense of humor to begin with, irreverent tweets are not going to be tolerated. Loose lips won't sink ships, but they will get you chucked into the slammer, if not killed.
Al-Naqi has twenty days to appeal. Apparently some appeals in similar cases have resulted in reduced sentences. That maybe what happens here. The judge played to the crowd with the ten year term, then after everyone cools down a bit he lets al-Naqi walk after a mere five, or so.
Of course to the average American this is all barbaric and incomprehensible horse shit. It is why vast numbers of us would love for someone to come up with a viable energy source to replace oil. That way we can tell all these goofs to stick it where the sun doesn't shine. Let China and India deal with the bastards for a few decades while we run loose and fancy free.
It won't happen though. Too many guys in places like Houston are making too much money with the status quo. Swelling bank accounts are a tit that can't be turned away from. There is no incentive for the boards of the big oil companies to change anything when it comes to energy consumption in this country.
So unfortunately for the rest of us it looks like we're stuck with them for a while. Just watch what you write. They are really, really touchy about stuff. I mean think about it. If they are willing to throw away the key on Hamad al-Naqi for a decade, imagine what they would like to do to you and me.