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Saudi women get jail, lashes for WhatsApp conversation

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RIYADH: A Saudi court has sentenced two women to 20 lashes each after they apparently chatted in a bad language on Whatsapp.

The women who were found to have indulged in an argument were also handed down imprisonment for ten days, reports Arabic newspaper Al Watan.

Judges in Jeddah ruled their messages contained ‘impermissible expressions’ after one of the women was reported for being ‘abusive’.

In return she produced evidence the other woman had sworn at her first in a Whatsapp chat months ago.

The court warned the pair they faced worse punishment if they used bad language again.

The incident was reported only a month after Saudi Arabia was elected to the Human Rights Council.

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This was roundly criticised by human rights groups, which have accused the country of clamping down on freedom of expression and discriminating against woman.

Saudi Arabia is home to around 19.6 million Internet users.

In May this year, the authorities in the Kingdom blocked Facebook messenger with reports claiming the move taken to protect revenues of traditional telecoms companies.

Video and voice calling allows people to call over the internet rather than phone networks, avoiding the expense that can often come with calling outside of the country or for extended times.

The service had been banned because it failed to “comply with regulations”, the Independent quoted official told local news services. It threatened that any other app that fails to comply with those regulations will also be banned.

Around an year ago, Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was publicly flogged after being sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and 1,000 lashes in 2014 for breaking the kingdom’s technology laws and insulting Islam.

His flogging video was leaked on the internet.

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