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Tanzanian Comedian Facing A 3-Year Jail-term For Laughing At An Old Photo Of President Magufuli

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Popular Tanzanian comedian and former Big Brother Africa winner Idris Sultan is being held by police for allegedly bullying President John Magufuli.

According to his lawyer Bennedict Ishabakaki, Mr Sultan was detained on Tuesday and has been denied bail.

The police officially questioned the comedian and reality TV star on Thursday for allegedly violating the country’s controversial Cybercrimes Act, Mr Ishabakaki said.

Recently a video clip showing him laughing at an old photograph of President Magufuli, wearing a suit that appears to be a few sizes too large, went viral on social media in Tanzania.

“They are questioning him for allegedly contravening section 23 of the act. In a nutshell, they [the police] are accusing him of bullying the president through that video clip,” Mr Ishabakaki told the BBC.

“But I strongly believe, as a comedian, my client is only doing satire, and satire can be political as well.”

The law states that someone should not “initiate or send any electronic communication using a computer system to another person with intent to coerce, intimidate, harass or cause emotional distress”.

If convicted, the comedian could face imprisonment for at least three years or a fine of 5m Tanzanian shillings ($2,200; £1,800) – or both.

This is the second time the comedian has been detained because of his job.

Last October, he was held after sharing photo-shopped face-swap pictures of himself and the president.

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Police accused him of breaking the same cybercrimes laws, which forbid anyone from using a computer to “impersonate” someone else. He was later freed without charge.


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