A fierce Emirati biker bride who took the Internet by storm last month when she and her husband lead a convoy of more than 60 Harley-Davidson bikers during their wedding is now suing 35 social media users for defamation and online harassment.
Nadia Hussain and husband Salem al-Muraikhi said they became the target of death threats and insults from social media commentators since a video of their wedding went viral. The couple had to even cancel their Seychelles honeymoon getaway for fear of their safety, Emirati website The National reported.
"There were threats saying they will slit our throats," Hussain said, "and our phones never stopped ringing."
The video report, which was produced by Jordanian website Amman al-Youm, shows the happy couple aboard their decorated motorcycles waving to friends and bystanders. Hussain can be seen wearing an all-white outfit, which included a hijab, wedges, and trousers underneath a tulle skirt, while Muraikhi donned a neck scarf and black T-shirt with a skull motif.
But Hussain, who was accused of violating UAE traditions and values, as well as going against the hijab dress code, is fighting back. Two of the people she filed cases against at the Court of Misdemeanors will have to face Public Prosecution on April 17.
According to reports, one of the two set to appear for the first hearing is a media personality with an online following of 10,000 subscribers. The accused made a video that Hussain claims to have defamed her.
“From that video alone we took out 12 offenses that are punishable by the law," she said.
Ali al-Mansouri, a lawyer representing said media personality, described the online comments as inconsequential, downplaying the incident as "an intrusive trend to the UAE society."
"Every person has the right to be creative in their wedding – we do not have a problem with that – but when it affects the norm and modesty features there is an issue," he said.
If a bride is seen walking the streets in her wedding gown, the police would stop her "because this is a violation of public order," he added.
But not many seem to agree. In light of her story being shared, supporters seem to outnumber negative commenters on social media platforms.
Electronic abuse and online harassment is a serious offense punishable by law in the UAE. Cybercrime law 5/2012 stipulates that offenders, if found guilty, could get a life sentence and/or a fine ranging between 50,000 Dirhams ($13,600) and three million Dirhams ($816,800).
The law can also punish people who use "foul language" on WhatsApp – and expatriates can expect deportation.