Tanzanian comedian faces prison for laughing at throwback photo of their president

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Tanzanian comedian and 2014 Big Brother Africa winner, Idris Sultan is now learning the hard way that Tanzania under the administration of John Pombe Magufuli is not a place to laugh too loud at everything.

John Pombe Magufuli
The son of a peasant farmer, John Pombe Magufuli became Tanzania’s president on his 56th birthday in 2015 and has gone on to be a controversial leader. Source: BBC

Sultan has been arrested for reportedly laughing at a throwback photo of John Pombe Magufuli in a short video he shared online which has gone viral and got to the attention of the dreaded African leader known for his high-handedness.

Idris Sultan’s lawyer Benedict Ishabakaki told BBC on Thursday May 21, that he was accused of contravening the Cybercrimes Act 2015 against cyberbullying.

The law upon which the comedian was arrested states:

“A person shall not initiate or send any electronic communication using a computer system to another person with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass or cause emotional damage.”

Big Brother Africa winner arrested for laughing at Magufuli’s throwback photo

Ishabakaki said his comedian client who has been in police custody for two days has been accused of using the internet to harass the President.

“They have not told him till now if he has broken any clause … but their questioning behavior is related to the video. We hope he can be released on bail today. In short, the police claim Idris used the internet to harass the president,” the lawyer said.

Watch the video below

If convicted, Idris Sultan faces a fine of not less than Tsh5 million or imprisonment for a term of not less than three years or both if convicted.

This is not the first time Idris has been arrested for ‘toying’ with Magufuli, according to reports.

In October 2019, he was arrested for photo-shopping President John Pombe Magufuli.

Recent photo of President John Pombe Magufuli.

Dar es Salaam Regional Commander Paul Makonda claimed the comedian didn’t know the boundaries of his work, hence overstepping.

The comedian’s arrest has caused reactions online with a section of Twitter users demanding his release using the hashtag #FreeIdrisSultan.


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