It’s not uncommon for anyone to utter expletive-laden outbursts when dealing with the phone company. But when it happens in a place like Dubai, where there are strict laws against using profanity, it can land you in hot water.
In the latest case, a 43-year-old Canadian ex-pat shouted the insult “f*** off” at a customer service representative for Etisalat, the U.A.E. telecom giant, after becoming upset over a bureaucratic glitch. This didn’t sit well with authorities there, and the man landed in Dubai Misdemeanour Court. However, his lawyer insists that it wasn’t meant as an insult and that the whole incident is simply a cultural misunderstanding.
“My client is a Canadian citizen and f*** off is not an insult in Canada… but f*** you is a curse and an insult,” argued Attorney Uday al-Kazwini, Gulfnews.com reported. “F*** off is commonly used when a person expresses themselves metaphorically and asks another person, who angered them, to walk away.”
But the representative insists the man used the insult his attorney is denying.
“When he called me useless, I thanked him… then he told me f*** you twice and told me to shut my mouth,” said the 29-year-old rep, an Egyptian. “I walked out of the counter towards him wanting to calm him down… but my colleagues stopped me and the situation was restrained immediately. Then I complained to the police.”
Prosecutors want to do more than wash the defendant’s mouth out with soap. If slapped with the toughest penalty for swearing, the Canadian man faces a hefty fine. In one 2009 case, an Australian doctor was fined $544 for swearing at a policeman, and a British secretary had to pay $816 for swearing at a parking attendant. And you thought getting grounded was a harsh punishment.