Idris Sultan is facing cyberbullying charges for laughing at President Magufuli's old photo.

Tanzanian comedian and actor Idris Sultan is facing cyberbullying charges for laughing at an old picture of President John Magufuli.

His lawyer Benedict Ishabakaki told BBC that the 2014 Big Brother Africa winner is accused of contravening the Cybercrimes Act 2015 against cyberbullying.  The law states: “A person shall not initiate or send any electronic communication using a computer system to another person with intent to coerce, intimidate, harass or cause emotional damage.”

If convicted of the charges levelled against him, Idris faces paying a fine of not less than Tsh5 million (Sh230, 000) or imprisonment for a term of not less than three years or both.

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According to Ishabaki, the charges facing Idris stem from a video he recently shared laughing at an old photo of Magufuli.

“In short, the police claim Idris used the internet to harass the president,” he said.

The comedian was arrested on May 19 after heeding summons from the police but is yet to be arraigned in court. According to Idris’ lawyer, their request for bail was denied as police said they needed him in custody while they follow up on leads.  


Idris’ arrest drew furore from a section of Twitter users who demanded his release through the hashtag #FreeIdrisSultan:

This is not the first time Idris has gotten into trouble for incorporating President Magufuli in his content creation. In October 2019, he was ordered to report to the nearest police station after ‘swapping’ faces with Magufuli using photo editing software.

While summoning Idris, Dar es Salaam Regional Commander Paul Makonda claimed the comedian didn’t know the boundaries of his work. Idris apologised saying: “I had no ill intentions; I was just wishing the president a happy birthday. If the president did not like my birthday message, I apologise.”

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“I have cooperated with the police and a tribunal has been formed to discuss the matter, then the attorney general will on Monday decide whether it will proceed to court.”

Idris Sultan.

The matter did not proceed to court.

In March 2020, Idris he was yet again arrested on charges of publishing content online without a license from the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA). He was charged alongside two others for the offence allegedly committed from March 8, 2016, to March 13, 2020. He was released on Sh368,000 bond.