In February 2013, a Palestinian court convicted Anas Saad Awwad, from the West Bank town of Awarta, to a year in prison for offending the president of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. Awwad had posted on his Facebook page about President Abbas. Palestinian security forces have a record of jailing people accused of using social media to criticize the government.
Awwad, age 26, was found guilty of photo-shopping an image of Abbas wearing a Real Madrid jersey and posting it with the caption, “A new striker.” Awwad claimed that his post was not meant to offend the government or president. Khalil Assaf, director of the public freedoms committee, called the punishment more of an embarrassment to the government than the actual crime itself. He called on the court to reverse its ruling against Awwad.
Awwad’s case is significant because it involves freedom of speech. Awwad and others who criticize the Palestinian Authority do so at risk of being sentenced to unfair jail time.
“Man faces year in jail after Abbas Facebook Joke,” Ma’an News Agency, February 7, 2013, http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=563198
Student Researcher: Jessica Sarkisian-Schwartz, College of Marin
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman, College of Marin