(photo credit: Courtesy of Twitter homepage)
KUWAIT - Kuwaiti authorities arrested a local man for insulting the Prophet Mohammad on his Twitter account, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday, in a rare case of alleged blasphemy using social media.
Blasphemy is illegal in Kuwait under the 1961 press and publications law, but it is not punishable by death as in neighboring Saudi Arabia, where the case of a columnist facing similar accusations has drawn international attention.
The Kuwaiti man, whose name was not disclosed by officials, defamed the Islamic faith and slandered the Prophet Mohammad, his companions and his wife, the ministry said in a statement issued on state-run news agency KUNA. The man, who was arrested late on Tuesday, is being interrogated before court proceedings.
The ministry "regretted the abusing of social networks by some individuals to offend basic Islamic and spiritual values, vowing to show zero tolerance in combating such serious offenses," it said in the statement.
In September a Kuwaiti court convicted a man for insulting Gulf rulers and posting inflammatory sectarian comments online, but he was released immediately because of time already served while awaiting trial, according to a human rights activist.
Twitter is very popular in Kuwait, where many politicians, journalists and other public figures use the micro-blogging site to debate current events and share gossip. Popular figures can have hundreds of thousands of followers.
Kuwaiti media carried comments from the man denying the accusations. "I will never attack the Holy Prophet," he was reported as saying and added that someone must have hacked his account to post the comments.
His remarks, carried by several of Kuwait's main newspapers, were not immediately verifiable.