In another terrifying story underlining the differences of what can and cannot be said in different cultures, the British press has broken the tale of a British-Iranian wife facing jail and a massive fine for calling her Portuguese ex-husband’s new wife “a horse”.
According to the Times, the situation has been compounded by a poor translation of the Farsi for “horse” into the Arab for “whore”.
But what Laleh Sharavesh, 55, never imagined when she lashed out in her mother tongue over Facebook at former husband Pedro Correia dos Santos is that the comments almost three years ago would land her in such hot water when she flew into the United Arab Emirates for his funeral.
HSBC banker Correia dos Santos, 51, died of a heart-attack a week earlier, reports the Daily Mail today.
His daughter Paris – the only daughter of his marriage to Laleh Sharavesh – wanted to say her final goodbye and thus the pair flew to Dubai to do so.
Unbeknown to either, however, was the fact that Correia dos Santos’ second wife – Tunisian Samah al Hammadi, 42 – had made an official complaint about Laleh Sharavesh’s Facebook posts to authorities in Dubai “where social media posts can be used in a prosecution”, explains the Mail.
The duo’s arrival led to a traumatic ordeal in a Middle Eastern police station, and the effective detention of Ms Sharavesh who had to surrender her passport pending a court hearing later this week.
Radha Stirling, the chief executive of human rights organisation Detained in Dubai, is officially representing Ms Sharavesh, and has told British journalists that it is “simply unreasonable that a country wishing to attract Western tourism arrests charges a woman for a Facebook post made years ago from outside the United Arab Emirates’ jurisdiction”.
Whether this ‘defence’ will work remains to be seen.
For now, reports suggest Ms Sharavesh faces two years in jail and a £50,000 fine.
The background to this story explains that Pedro Correia dos Santos left Ms Sharavesh after 18 years of marriage and then married his new wife without telling his ex.
Ms Sharavesh admits to having lashed out, writing two unpleasant comments. “I know I shouldn’t have”, she told the Mail… “but I felt angry, betrayed and hurt”.
The comments, written in Farsi, were: “I hope you go under the ground, you idiot. Damn you. You left me for this horse” and “You married a horse, you idiot”.
The UK Standard has since interviewed Correio dos Santos’ wife who claims Ms Sharavesh had been waging a campaign of harassment since the couple tied the knot.
Samah al Hammadi also defended Dubai’s cyber crime laws, saying. “I don’t feel sorry. She made him [Mr Santos] suffer in the last year of his life. Let the law take part.”