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US citizen spends 9 months in an United Arab Emirates prison for YouTube parody.

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posted on Jan, 12 2014 @ 06:18 PM
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Shezanne Carrim (29) - an American citizen - has recently been released from a UAE prison, after serving nine months of a 12 month sentence for posting a parody clip on YouTube.

Notably the video begins with an intended disclaimer that says it is fiction, and doesn't mean any offense to the people of the UAE.

The video is mainly a spoof of martial arts and upper class wannabe "gangsta" pretensions.
I'm not quite sure of what exactly caused the offense?
Perhaps somebody who understands the specific culture could explain to me what caused the specific offenses that justified putting a young man in prison?

I found the video quite amusing, and it seems more like a satire of reality TV programs on the "deadliest martial arts", or where the host claims to infiltrate the "toughest gangs" on the planet.
In that sense it could have taken the mickey out of Cape Town, or any major city where hip hop culture partly also encourages upper to middle class youths to act like streetwise tough-guys.

Perhaps its downfall was the inclusion of traditional items of clothing like shoes or Arabic headbands?
Or perhaps because it had a brief parody on gender relations?

I've noticed for a long time that making people laugh or smile may be considered highly disruptive to power, even if no slight is intended.
Why is that?

The irony is that the more seriously a regime or ideology takes itself, the easier it is to actually laugh at it.
Perhaps laughter and amusement are a form of resistance?
It certainly attracts censorship on the Web, so it's not only openly medieval-type systems that want to silence original satire, although this over-reaction takes the cake.

Anyhow, here's the link (and it contains a direct link to the "offending" YouTube video: "Ultimate Combat System: the Deadly Satwa Gs"):

www.voanews.com...




edit on 12-1-2014 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

edit on 12-1-2014 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)




posted on Jan, 12 2014 @ 06:37 PM
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well i think he should have realized that insulting the upper class in an absolute monarchy was a bad idea, he might not have meant to insult but making a parody that pokes fun at the behavior of the upper class in a monarchy makes the leadership look like fools and real monarchy is about power and status so it's never a good idea to behave as if it's a republic or democracy and make fun of the elite powerful of such a nation.



posted on Jan, 12 2014 @ 06:49 PM
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reply to post by namehere
 

I suppose the class pretensions are satirized on one level.

However, I think that the offense was perhaps more about using cultural/religious items.
There's also an undermining of the "tough-guise" of gender that could be seen as an insult to national or "Islamic" masculine honor?

I do think this was just supposed to be a joke, and not much more.

Not sure, but some possibilities.

But ultimately the warning of the case is implicit: We are not a tolerant system, so don't try and mess with us on any level ...
we will take offense and deal with you!


edit on 12-1-2014 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 12 2014 @ 09:49 PM
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reply to post by halfoldman
 





But ultimately the warning of the case is implicit: We are not a tolerant system, so don't try and mess with us on any level ... we will take offense and deal with you!


And the ultimate lesson is don't go into another country and break their laws. Too many Americans go abroad and think just because they are American they will get out trouble and that just isn't so.
edit on 12-1-2014 by buster2010 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 13 2014 @ 01:55 PM
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buster2010

And the ultimate lesson is don't go into another country and break their laws. Too many Americans go abroad and think just because they are American they will get out trouble and that just isn't so.


Yet on the same token it's acceptable for Americans to be labeled racists, bigotted hicks for simply asking the same level of respect be given to their laws by immigrants?


edit on 13-1-2014 by Lipton because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 13 2014 @ 04:42 PM
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An updated article says that Mr. Cassim was detained under 2012 cyber-crimes laws, although it remains unclear what exactly the UAE found threatening about the satirical video.

Mr. Cassim said his trial was an example of a kangaroo court, and that they were scapegoats used as a warning:



Mr. Cassim, who came to the U.A.E. in 2006, issued his own rebuke when he arrived home. He told a scrum of television reporters that he did nothing wrong and had been tried in a “textbook kangaroo court”. While it’s unclear exactly what kind of threat the U.A.E. authorities saw in the spoof video, Mr. Cassim characterized his arrest and detention as an attempt to send a message. “Due to the political situation here, they’re scared of democracy,” he said. “They wanted to send a message to the U.A.E. public, saying, ‘Look what we’ll do to people who do just a silly YouTube video, so imagine if you do something that’s actually critical of the government.’ It’s a warning message, and we’re scapegoats.”


blogs.wsj.com...

Perhaps it is true that Mr. Cassim's case received more attention from human rights activists and the media because he was an American citizen, and I'm still in the dark over the fate of the other three men involved in making the video.
However, I don't buy the argument in this case that he was just a criminal who got what was coming to him.
I don't think he knew he was doing anything illegal when he posted the video, and his disclaimer at the start of the video is clear that he never even meant any cultural offense.

While it's understandable that many Americans don't care about human rights and democracy in other countries (although I don't see that as the dominant trend on ATS), this case was clearly about regimes that present themselves as progressive while they are at once clamping down on criticism and freedom of speech.
Reminds me a bit of the nadir of apartheid, and what would have happened if the Internet had been around back then.

What is also concerning is the interpretation that the UAE may not have liked the video because it made "combatants" look silly.
I wonder why a regime like that would mind that "combatants" are satirized?
Interesting question, if that view is correct.
edit on 13-1-2014 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 14 2014 @ 12:55 PM
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Mr. Cassim (apologies for spelling error in my OP) after his release.

He insists that they broke no UAE law with the video, and for five months he didn't know what the charges were, and they kept changing.


edit on 14-1-2014 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 14 2014 @ 01:27 PM
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This video by The Young Turks is from December last year, at which point it seemed that campaigns to free Mr. Cassim gained momentum.

According to the video's description he was finally charged with threatening state security and breaking federal cyber-crime laws.



The lady says that one shouldn't go to Dubai (or any of these Gulf States), although she also questions the pettiness of the regime for taking offense at the video.

The gentleman says that there was an element of Arab racism here, since Mr. Cassim also has a Sri Lankan heritage, which is part of the "slave" labor class according to the "apartheid racism" (I suppose) of the Islamic Gulf states.

I still find the term "combatants" from my previous post's article quite interesting.
If these regimes have some proclivity towards funding and recruiting Jihadist militants (also white converts from Western countries, which is also shortly parodied) then one could see how a joke about urban "tough guys" can quickly be seen as undermining the recruitment of "useful idiots" who have been led to think they are doing something crucially important.
However, I don't think the video meant to show "combatants" at all, but simply wannabe tough guys.
It could depend on who is doing the interpreting, and what kind of ideally unopposed propaganda is on their minds, especially since the Internet is a apparently a useful recruitment tool.
But why should a regime that could be threatened by some "combatants" not like undermining them?
I suppose they want some combatants and not others, and maybe there are different factions (judging by reports of Islamist in-fighting in Syria it seems like a confusing subject).

But stay away from Gulf States?
Is that a politically correct message - especially for all those leftists who claim to be pro-Hezbollah (and all the misogyny, homophobia and antisemitism that goes with it)?

Well, that should be fun for the FIFA World Cup planned for Qatar in 2022.
It should make debates about Russia's homophobia and Sochi look like a picnic in comparison.

That is, if anyone in the West will still be allowed to critique human rights abuses in Islamic countries without being dismissed as "racist", "Islamophobic", "pro-American Imperialism" or "pro-Zionist".
en.wikipedia.org...
edit on 14-1-2014 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 15 2014 @ 09:10 AM
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That is, if anyone in the West will still be allowed to critique human rights abuses in Islamic countries without being dismissed as "racist", "Islamophobic", "pro-American Imperialism" or "pro-Zionist"
Its the same reason why anybody critiquing abuses in the US or Israel are branded as ''terrorists'' or ''anti-semitic'' or ''anti-zionists'' or ''anti-americans''. Your sense of humor is not shared by everybody else.



posted on Jan, 15 2014 @ 01:07 PM
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reply to post by sk0rpi0n
 

Fair enough, it's good to have have both opposing concerns in the debate.

It's not really meant to be humorous however, and it's a very real concern, especially in the academies where boycotts of Israeli universities and intellectuals has been proposed to various degrees of success.
Suffice it to say that in South Africa it's probably ill-advised not to take an anti-Israel and anti-American position regarding academic papers, and to me that's becoming a threat to free speech.

I also don't see leftists and "human rights activists" marching through the capitals of Europe and shouting against Muslim countries that have dreadful human rights records and no free speech, or against groups who want to impose global Sharia law.

My interest in this was recently further raised by a documentary on new forms of antisemitism in Britain.
This showed how positions against Zionism and Israel's state policies often do end up as generalized antisemitism, and even none-Jews who don't agree are insulted.
I do wonder how much of such antisemitism is really a deep-seated concern about the Middle East, and how much it is influenced by Europe's own historic antisemitism that has been passed down in all kinds of subtle ways.
Whatever the case, I find the insults quite unacceptable.


Sure, that's just the one side of the coin.
The way that Israel has sometimes dealt with critics like Norman Finkelstein is also pretty dismal.
It's also true that real Islamophobia is an issue, although it harks more from the Western right, and the religious right.
It is not very pronounced in South Africa, and the ANC has historic ties with the Palestinians.

Another concern is that the Western media has already censored itself so as not to cause offense to Muslim sensibilities, such as with the Mohammed cartoons, and for some commentators this implies serious threats to freedom of expression.
I painted the possibility of the worst case scenario by 2022 (overwhelming censorship), however I cannot say for sure "if" that will happen.
But it's not just my concern based on a whim.
But for sure, different things may be happening in different parts of the globe, and possibly there are parts of the US or Israel where voicing anti-American or anti-Israel opinions are not such a good idea.
I suppose each of those issues is complex and worthy of their own thread.



posted on Jan, 16 2014 @ 01:25 AM
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reply to post by halfoldman
 



I also don't see leftists and "human rights activists" marching through the capitals of Europe and shouting against Muslim countries that have...

Why does it have to be leftists and "human rights activists"? Plenty of people are outspoken against Muslims and have protested against them.




Another concern is that the Western media has already censored itself so as not to cause offense to Muslim sensibilities, such as with the Mohammed cartoons, and for some commentators this implies serious threats to freedom of expression.

Western media also censors itself so as to not offend homosexuals, jews, blacks etc. Is this a threat to freedom of expression as well?



posted on Jan, 16 2014 @ 10:25 AM
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reply to post by sk0rpi0n
 

My interest is in the left because traditionally they were supposed to agitate for freedom of speech, women's rights, gay rights, racial and religious minorities, while opposing harmful nationalism globally (not only Jewish nationalism).
The concern is that they have become so fixated on Israel that they are no longer doing so equally, especially when it comes to the Middle East, or African wars that have killed thousands.
Instead of pointing out the Jewish community (for example in London) is living under a virtual siege, they are spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories that the Jews are running the media, the banking and just about everything else.
Some of their beliefs are based on outright lies, and one interpretation of this turn of events is that painting the Jews as "Nazis" is a kind of absolution of Europe's holocaust guilt.

Not that all the left is antisemitic, but there's still a concerning "hands off" approach.
For example, considering the Young Turks clip above, it is great that they raised the case of Mr. Cassim.
But there's still an attitude of "don't go to these Gulf States".
That's a surprising attitude from a lefty program for me.
It certainly wasn't the attitude of the left when there was actual apartheid and restricted speech in South Africa.
I also don't think one has to be anti-Muslim and anti-Islam to criticize these states.

There's certainly a concern about both antisemitism and Islamophobia in the Western media, although I cannot say what the policies are in individual countries when it comes to racist of homophobic speech.

On one British debate on the cartoons the issue of Western double standards on "Muslim offense" was raised.
Religious groups certainly still have the right to preach against homosexuality, but hate speech that calls for actual harm is usually not allowed.
Different groups should certainly have the right to debate or protest against each other, or use their consumer power to sway the media (as was done in the US regarding Duck Dynasty, or the Dixie Chicks).
I guess what scares the West is silencing views on religious ideology through violent riots, fatwas and intimidation.
That creates the impression that one should stand up to a bully.



posted on Jan, 16 2014 @ 12:53 PM
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Lipton

buster2010

And the ultimate lesson is don't go into another country and break their laws. Too many Americans go abroad and think just because they are American they will get out trouble and that just isn't so.


Yet on the same token it's acceptable for Americans to be labeled racists, bigoted hicks for simply asking the same level of respect be given to their laws by immigrants?


edit on 13-1-2014 by Lipton because: (no reason given)


Did you ever stop to think the reason why they are labeled as bigots is because of the way they are asking? And seeing the incarceration rate here in America maybe somebody should tell Americans to follow the law.
edit on 16-1-2014 by buster2010 because: (no reason given)



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