19 in court after allegedly defaming preacher at Sheikh Zayed Mosque
The preacher claims that he was bullied on social media by the defendants.
Five new additional lawyers have volunteered to defend a group of social media users who were accused by a preacher at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi of defaming him.
Waseem Yousef, who is a well-known preacher and TV personality in the UAE, had taken 19 people to court accusing them of publicly insulting and slandering him on Twitter. The preacher claims that he was bullied on social media by the defendants since June 2019.
The alleged insults followed the comments Yousef made about Sahih Al Bukhari, one of the six major collections of sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which was compiled by Imam Mohammad Al Bukhari.
After noticing the many criticisms, some of which he considered "insulting and defaming", Yousef filed a lawsuit against the social media users under the online law.
On Thursday, Abu Dhabi Misdeamenour Court looked into the case, and conducted the second hearing.
Five new lawyers presented their applications to the court as they volunteered to represent the accused, making the number of lawyers representing the 19 defendants got up to 24.
The Emirati and expat defendants had claimed that they were just responding to Yousef's undermining the work of Imam Al Bukhari, one of the most distinguished scholars of the Holy Prophet's Hadith in Islamic history.
During Thursday's hearing, lawyer Ibrahim Al Tamimi, who spoke on behalf of the defence team, said "the defendants were practicing their right and freedom of expression".Al Tamimi also requested that the video footage of the comments made by Yousef be played in court during the next hearing.
Mudheya Al Minhali, the lawyer representing Yousef, requested for a closed door hearing in this trial.
However, the defence team objected to his request stressing that the case is in the public interest given the fact that it involves more than a dozen social media users.
Yousef previously said on Twitter that he at first endured the insults but the defendants continued to attack him repeatedly."I was very patient but they overdid it. They bullied me, used bad manners and insults," he said on Twitter. "I swear to God, I will not give up on my right ... and justice will stand between us."
The trial was adjourned until February 5.
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