A 17-year-old boy has been jailed in Singapore for what the court termed “wounding the feelings of Muslims and Christians” in a series of YouTube videos.
The incident has attracted strong criticism from the United Nations which sees it as a gag on freedom of expression.
“The criminalisation of a broad range of legitimate, even if offensive forms of expression is not the right tool for any State to pursue legitimate aims such as tolerance and the rights of others,” David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression.
It is the second time the Amos Yee has been imprisoned over his content. Last year, he was sentenced to four weeks in prison for comparing former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew to Jesus and Hitler.
According to a report by the Straits Times, he has been sentenced to six weeks in prison and fined Sh 217,120 on six charges of intending to hurt the feelings of Christians and Muslims and two for failing to attend a sermon at a police station.
In his videos, the teenager eloquently and philosophically presents his case where he says there is no hell or heaven and calls God a mass murderer while using graphic and explicit content.
According to the UN, the trial of the teen blogger is one of several cases in Singapore that indicate a broadening crackdown on controversial expression, as well as political criticism and dissent.
“Threats of criminal action and lawsuits contribute to a culture of self-censorship, and hinder the development of an open and pluralistic environment where all forms of ideas and opinions should be debated and rebutted openly,” said UN’s David Kaye.
Kaye also added that “The lesson that somebody can be thrown in jail for their speech is exactly the wrong kind of message that any government should be sending to anybody, but especially to young people.”