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Wary of Protests, Dubai Monitors Social Media

According to online report by Reuters, Dubai police are closely monitoring social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook for signs of attempts to organize protests or strikes and cite the large foreign laborer population as a concern. Colonel Abdul Rahim bin Shafi, director of the Interior Ministry’s organized crime department in the United Arab Emirates city, reportedly telling Reuters that “Whoever spreads false or malicious news or statements or spreading propaganda which could upset public security could spend between one month to three years in jail.”

Bin Shafi told Reuters that people should express their opinion without violating (social) norms, furthermore he said that whilst social media sites like Twitter and Facebook were invented to make the world easier, if they are used adversely, then the perpetrators will be punished by law.

Reuters. August 17th, 2011

… “He said security chiefs in the UAE, a seven-member federation that includes Dubai and top oil producer Abu Dhabi, noted how social media was used by looters in Britain this month to organize their movements during riots.

“What happens in Britain could happen here,” bin Shafi said, pointing to the expatriate worker population. “There is continued evaluation at the level of heads of departments and police chiefs to follow up on events and analyze them.”

Some 80 percent of the UAE population is white- and blue-collar foreigners, many from Asia. Asian laborers, mostly from the Indian subcontinent, have staged strikes in the past over low wages and bad conditions.

“We have contingency plans to handle strikes and we have training programs to tackle such situations,” bin Shafi said.

UAE security forces have clamped down on an increasingly vocal circle of activists who campaigned for democratic reforms in the UAE, whose emirates are dominated by dynastic tribes and allied trading families.”

… continue reading on Reuters

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