Why So Serious? Saudi Arabia Makes Online Satire Punishable By Up To Five Years In Jail 

Why So Serious? Saudi Arabia Makes Online Satire Punishable By Up To Five Years In Jail  Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Dan Kitwood /Getty Images)

According to lawmakers in Saudi Arabia, publishing satirical content online can “disrupt public order”. The public prosecutor on Tuesday (September 4) announced that online satires are now a punishable offence under the cyber crime law, and can land you in prison up to five years.

The move is seen as a crackdown on dissent against the conservative state. The New Indian Express reported that the public prosecution tweeted on Monday (September 3) announcing on twitter their decision- "Producing and distributing content that ridicules, mocks, provokes and disrupts public order, religious values and public morals through social media will be considered a cyber crime punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of three million riyals (USD 800,000).”

In the last one year, dozens of citizens have been convicted under the draconian cyber crime law for having merely sent out tweets that express disagreements with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Crown Prince Md Bin Salman has been severely criticised for cracking down on human rights activists and political dissidents.

His appointment took place in June 2017. By September 2017, the authorities announced publicly calling for reports on their fellow citizens who criticise the establishment, framing them as “terrorist” crimes.

The public prosecution also demanded a death penalty in the case of Sheik Salman al-Awda, a prominent Islamic cleric arrested along with twenty others.