Artist Jodi Magi Imprisoned in Abu Dhabi For a Facebook Post

Magi spent 53 hours in shackles for a picture of an illegally parked car.

A seemingly harmless Facebook post from February has gotten artist Jodi Magi into a world of trouble.

The Australian digital artist and painter, who had been living in Abu Dhabi with her partner since 2012, photographed an illegally parked car occupying two disabled parking slots in front of her apartment building and posted the image to her Facebook account. She alleges that the post did not mention any names and that the image obscured the vehicle’s plate information.

However, someone in Magi’s apartment block complained about the post to police. The case went to an Abu Dhabi court in June.

According to the ABC, Australia’s state-owned public broadcaster, Magi was then ordered to sign documents in Arabic without translation and was ultimately found guilty of “writing bad words on social media about a person.”

Jodi Magi painting.  Photo: Jodi Magi.

Jodi Magi painting.
Photo: Courtesy of Jodi Magi.

Despite attempts to voluntarily deport herself and pay the $3,600 fine, Magi was taken into custody by the authorities. She claims to have spent 53 hours in shackles, deprived of basic privileges such as access to toilet paper and eating utensils.

On July 14, she announced via Twitter that she was finally free.

Now in Thailand, Magi says she was shocked and confused by the court’s decision, as she had little understanding of the charges against her. She also recalls meeting several women in jail who had been imprisoned for days or even weeks without a court hearing or a reason for their imprisonment.

“If you think what happened to me was insane, spend a couple of days in an Abu Dhabi jail,” she writes on her personal website. “I have nothing to complain about compared to the vast majority of women I met whose only crime was being poor, marrying the wrong guy, getting pregnant outside of marriage or/and being victims of rampant and systemic police corruption where ‘evidence’, ‘ethics’ and ‘due process’ are unheard of concepts.”

Magi was living in Melbourne before moving to the United Arab Emirates to teach graphic design to local Emirati women.

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