U.S. citizen imprisoned in Dubai over ‘gangsta’ parody video
A U.S citizen and former Minnesota resident has been in jail in Dubai since April 2013 for a video he made last year about poking fun at a group of suburban would-be tough guys.
KARE-TV reported that 29-year-old Shezanne Cassim was accused by authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)of threatening national security and breaking federal cyber crime laws for participating in the making of “Ultimate Combat System: The Deadly Satwa Gs,” a 20-minute short film that begins with an explicit acknowledgement that it is fiction.
According to CNN, Cassim moved to the UAE from Minnesota in 2006 to work for the Dubai office of PriceWaterhouseCoopers. His family has stated that the law was passed after the “Satwa” video was posted online in October 2012, and that officials have not told them how it threatens “public order.”
“It’s like somebody in the United States making a parody video of a Brooklyn hipster, and being held in jail for it and being held in jail for months without bail,” his brother, Shervon Cassim, told KARE. “That’s what’s going on here.”
The video shows Shezanne Cassim, as “MaximumWasta,” visiting Satwa, an affluent Dubai neighborhood, to learn about the budding vigilantes group’s “fighting techniques,” like throwing shoes or wielding belts.
Cassim’s next court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 16. A U.S. State Department spokesperson told KARE that members of the country’s embassy in Abu Dhabi and Consulate General office in Dubai have attended his hearings and visited with him regularly.
Watch CNN’s report on Cassim’s imprisonment, aired on Friday, below.
And you can see “Ultimate Combat System: The Deadly Satwa Gs,” originally posted in October 2012, below.