Satirical Video Offends UAE Authorities, Five Men Including 1 American Jailed

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | December 7, 2013 7:47 PM EST

A mocumentary (a mock documentary), featuring a fictional martial arts school in Dubai, was intended to be funny but United Arab Emirates authorities viewed this otherwise.

The 20-minute video shows Saloom Snake, the grandmastera and train combat soldiers on how to throw sandals as a part of their striking strategy. He also teaches them how to fight with the help of thin ropes from the Arabian headdress. The video shows that fights are summoned on Twitter but the fight never really happens, as reported by the New York Times.

UAE authorities were offended by the makers' sense of humor and took the five men in to custody for participating in the video. The arrested men include Shezanne Cassim who is a U.S. citizen. The five men were imprisoned back in April. It has been 8 months and they are still waiting for trial as they are charged for threatening national security.

American officials, along with the families of the defendants, have been worried about the case. According to them, the video was supposed to be funny for showing Emirati young people who blindly imitate Hollywood movies and rap videos. The five men were jailed for committing a far more severe crime like being a threat to the national security.

Dubai has been advertising itself as a global platform where different cultures meet at ease. It has also been successful in winning the bid for hosting the 2020 World Expo, captioned as "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future."

Microsoft Supremo Bill Gates endorsed its lengthy campaign as well. According to critics, jailing people for such an issue violates their freedom of expression and contradicts the idea of openness that the country promotes about itself.

The hearing is expected to be held Dec. 16. Cassim's brother Shervon said the video was like making fun of a Brooklyn hipster in the U.S., CNN reported. Cassim's family said they had not been informed how the video was a threat to the national security of the country.

UAE authorities did not provide any details to CNN when they were asked about the charges that Cassim was facing.

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