This story is a reminder to trolls that what you type can have ramifications
The UAE’s stand against online abuse transcends borders…
A UAE company has taken a stand against trolls, proving that what you say on the internet can have serious ramifications, no matter where the person you’re attacking is located.
Last week, New-Delhi-based investigative journalist Rana Ayyub shared incredibly vulgar Facebook messages sent to her by a 31-year-old Keralan man living in the UAE. She posted the explicit messages on Twitter, sharing them with her 173,000 followers.
Shocked by the content and abuse, one of her followers complained to the man’s employer – Alpha Paint in Dubai (a sister company of National Paints in Sharjah). The complaint was received on Friday April 8, by 8am Saturday April 9 the man had been fired.
The company say they first verified that he was the man who sent the messages, and then fired him (after also discovering anti-Islamic content on his account). The man is now being deported according to Gulf News. However, the company will be paying for his flight back home to India as it is part of his contract.
Whether the UAE government has been involved in this case isn’t clear, but the man’s behaviour and words (which are too extreme to repeat) would certainly be against the UAE’s Tolerance Charter and would likely be against the hate speech laws.
The UAE defines hate speech as “any speech or conduct which may incite sedition, prejudicial action or discrimination among individuals or groups”.
‘HUMANITY IS ALIVE’
“Humanity is alive,” Ayyub wrote on Twitter after hearing the news. “I am told that the person who wrote this to me has been sacked from his job following a complaint by a good samaritan”.
“We verified the accuracy of the information and checked on the name of the man. On April 8, at 8 am the termination order of (B.B.) was issued,” Shadi Al Refai, human resource manager of the company, told Gulf News.
“When we checked on his Facebook account, we saw the abusive message which was sent to that lady in addition to offensive posts against Islam,” he added.
“I think it is brave of them to do this … without even getting in touch with me. He could do this at his workplace tomorrow if he doesn’t like someone,” Ayyub said on Twitter of the company’s swift decision. “This is a lesson for even others who write such messages.”
A REMINDER OF THE LAWS
This case – and the man’s deportation (in this case most likely due to cancellation of his visa) shows how the UAE’s zero tolerance policy against cyber abuse can transcend borders.
Ayyub congratulated the UAE government for shutting down the trolls rather than the victims: “I have been told that the UAE laws are very strict against women harassment even on social media. For the first time I am personally seeing it happening. It feels that women are indeed safe there. I think the UAE government also deserves congratulations,” she said.
Ashish Mehta, founder and managing partner of legal firm Ashish Mehta & Associates, told the Khaleej Times that the UAE has a clear cyber law that should be widely known by now.
“The UAE authorities have been conducting awareness campaigns about cyber laws. Each company in the UAE has internal policies based on the prevailing rules and regulations in the country. In this case, if the employee has damaged the company’s name and reputation, company officials can take such a step, which is based on the sole discretion of the employer. In this case, I strongly condemn the action of the employee who has not only violated the cyber law, but has insulted religion too. Nobody has the right to insult any religion,” he said.
Mehta also points out that the man can follow up with the UAE labour court if he feels we was unfairly dismissed.
The UAE government has discussed tolerance and a rejection of hate speech a lot recently, particularly after the appointment of Sheikha Lubna as the Minister of Tolerance. You can read more about tolerance in the UAE here.
Photo: Twitter/Rana Ayyub