Palestinian atheist jailed for blasphemy on Facebook

Two cousins attributed the writings to depression, saying Husayin was desperate to find better work. Requesting anonymity because of the shame the incident, they said Husayin’s mother wants him to remain in prison for life — both to restore the family’s honor and to protect him from vigilantes.

The case is the second high-profile arrest in the West Bank connected to Facebook activity. In late September, a reporter for a news station sympathetic to Hamas was arrested and detained for more than a month after he was tagged in a Facebook image that insulted the Palestinian president.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers also stalk Facebook pages for suspected dissenters, said Palestinian rights activist Mustafa Ibrahim. He said Internet cafe owners are forced to monitor customers’ online activity, and alert intelligence officials if they see anything critical of the militant group or that violates Hamas’ stern interpretation of Islam.

Both governments also create fake Facebook profiles to befriend and monitor known dissidents, activists said.