Blasphemy trial stokes Shia and Sunni tensions

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The Independent Online

A Shia Muslim man has pleaded not guilty to charges of insulting the Prophet Mohamed and the Sunni rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on Twitter.

The charges were brought against Hamad al-Naqi, 26, by a civil plaintiff, who called for him to be put to death as an example to others.

The case, which opened yesterday, has caused uproar in Kuwait, where dozens of Sunni Muslim activists and MPs have protested against Mr Naqi, some calling for the death penalty and accusing him of having links to Iran, the Shia regional power, which he denies. Shia Muslims make up a third of Kuwait's 1.1 million people.

Mr Naqi has been in prison since his arrest in March. The judge rejected his lawyer's request for bail and adjourned the trial until next week.