KUWAIT Kuwaiti authorities arrested a man late on Tuesday for insulting the Prophet Mohammad via his Twitter account, the Interior Ministry said, in a rare case of alleged blasphemy in the Gulf Arab state using social media.
Blasphemy is illegal in Kuwait under the 1961 press and publications law, but it is not punishable by death as in neighboring Saudi Arabia, where the case of a columnist facing similar accusations has drawn international attention.
The man, whose name was not disclosed, defamed the Islamic faith and slandered the Prophet Mohammad, his companions and his wife, the ministry said in a statement issued on state-run news agency KUNA. He is being interrogated ahead of court proceedings.
The ministry "regretted the abusing of social networks by some individuals to offend basic Islamic and spiritual values, vowing to show zero tolerance in combating such serious offences," it said in the statement.
In September a Kuwaiti court convicted a man for insulting Gulf rulers and posting inflammatory sectarian comments on social media, but he was released immediately because of time already served while awaiting trial, according to a human rights activist.
Twitter is very popular in Kuwait, with many politicians, journalists and other public figures using the micro-blogging site to debate current events and share gossip. Popular figures can have hundreds of thousands of followers.
Kuwaiti media carried comments from the man denying the accusations. "I will never attack the Holy Prophet," he was reported as saying and added that someone must have hacked his account to post the comments.
His remarks, carried by several of Kuwait's main newspapers, were not immediately verifiable.
(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; editing by Sami Aboudi)