A Kuwaiti accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammad on Twitter was attacked by a fellow inmate in jail and has sustained minor injuries, the country’s Interior Ministry said on Thursday.
Kuwaiti authorities arrested the man last month, charging him with defaming the Islamic faith, the Prophet, his companions and his wife on the Twitter messaging site in a case which has caused an uproar in the tiny Gulf Arab state.
The man was “slightly injured” in the prison fight, the Interior Ministry said in a statement released by state-run news agency KUNA. It gave no further details. The man has been in pre-trial detention since the end of March.
Newspaper al-Rai said in an SMS alert that the man was taken to the prison hospital immediately after the brawl.
Authorities have not named the man but his lawyer has identified him as Hamad al-Naqi from Kuwait’s Shiite minority, confirming local media reports. Naqi denies the charges and says his Twitter account was hacked, according to his lawyer.
Insulting the Prophet and defaming Islam are illegal in Kuwait and usually carry a fine or prison term. Kuwaiti lawmakers have recently voted in favor of a legal amendment which could make such crimes punishable by death.
Members of parliament must vote on the proposal again in a second session and it would need the approval of the country’s ruler before becoming law.
Dozens of Sunni Muslim activists have protested against Naqi and several of Kuwait’s main newspapers have run editorials criticizing his alleged comments. Others have accused Sunni activists of over-reacting.