Court divides trial of 19 accused of defaming famous UAE imam
The well-known preacher and TV personality in the UAE took 19 people to court.
The trial of a group of social media users accused of insulting and defaming Waseem Yousef, a former preacher at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, has been divided into three judicial sessions set on different dates.
The well-known preacher and TV personality in the UAE took 19 people to court, accusing them of publicly insulting and slandering him on Twitter.
During the latest hearing on Wednesday, the Abu Dhabi Misdemeanour Court judge decided to divide the trial of 16 defendants into different sessions.
The cases of five defendants will be heard in a session on February 18, while those for six people have been scheduled on February 20, according to the judge.
For the other five defendants, cases will be heard on February 23. The three remaining accused had not been included in these sessions.
Yousef claims that the defendants bullied him on social media from 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) compiled by Imam Mohammad Al Bukhari.
After noticing the criticisms - some of which he considered "insulting and defaming" - Yousef filed a lawsuit against the Netizens under the cybercrime law.
Lawyer Ibrahim Al Tamimi, who spoke on behalf of the defence team on Wednesday, requested that the video footage of the comments made by Yousef be played at the next hearings.
He explained it was the main subject that prompted the defendants to "exercise their freedom of expression".
Last weekend, on its Instagram account, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre announced: "From now on, Waseem Yousef is no longer an imam and preacher at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque."
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