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New law: Insult Bahrain's king, get thrown in jail

By Schams Elwazer, CNN
updated 6:22 AM EST, Thu February 6, 2014
The King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, at the Bayan Royal Palace in Kuwait City, on December 10, 2013.
The King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, at the Bayan Royal Palace in Kuwait City, on December 10, 2013.

(CNN) -- Bahrain's king has ratified a new law that imposes a prison sentence of up to seven years and fine of up to $26,500 for anyone who publicly insults him, state-run media said.

The new measures, signed into law Tuesday, stipulate a minimum sentence of one year in jail and $2,600 fine for "any person who offends in public the Monarch of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the flag or the national emblem," according to Bahrain News Agency.

Bahraini activist speaks out

"Aggravating circumstances will be applied if the offense occurred in the presence of the King," it said.

The move comes a week before the three-year anniversary of pro-democracy protests that sparked a government crackdown. Activists have called for three days of "civil disobedience" to mark the date.

On January 28, political activist Zeinab al-Khawaja was sentenced in absentia to four months in prison and a $530 fine for tearing up a picture of the king in May 2012.

READ: On a mission: Maryam Alkhawaja wants to tell you about oppression in Bahrain

READ: 2013: Bahrain opposition leader arrested, charged with inciting terrorism

READ: 2013: Bahrain expels U.S. teacher, says she incited 'hatred'

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