An American citizen was sentenced to a year in prison in the United Arab Emirates on Monday for posting a parody video on YouTube which pokes fun at young Emirati men who imitate U.S. hip-hop culture, his family said. Shezanne Cassim, 29, has been detained in the United Arab Emirates since April after publishing the 20-minute "mockumentary" film. In the video, which opens with a disclaimer stating it is fictional and does not intend to offend the people of the UAE, Emirati men described as "deadly gangsters" can be seen practicing throwing sandals and wielding an agal, the cord used to keep in place traditional headscarves.
Cassim, an aviation business consultant, was charged with violating the Gulf nation's cyber crime law which makes acts deemed damaging to the country's reputation or national security punishable by jail time and heavy fines.
A silly parody video didn't harm the reputation of the UAE, but the government's prosecution of this man (actually 8 men) damages the reputation of the country.
And now I suppose I should remove the UAE from my vacation destination list lest I end up in jail for this post.
Also see: Court convicts 8 for spoof video.