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The Funny Or Die Dudes Have A Serious Appeal For The UAE: #FreeShez
December 11, 2013
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The creators of comedy video site Funny Or Die have enlisted friends from the "comedy community" to produce this message to officials in the United Arab Emirates, appealing to authorities to free an American jailed there after he filmed a parody video.

Shezanne "Shez" Cassim, 29 and from Minnesota, was arrested in April, along with four others who participated in a 20-minute mockumentary entitled "Ultimate Combat System: The Deadly Satwa Gs," according to The New York Times.

Actor and comedian Will Ferrell and Anchorman director Adam McKay, who founded Funny or Die together, mounted a video campaign calling for Cassim's release with help from fellow entertainers like Arrested Development's Tony Hale, Breaking Bad's Bob Odenkirk, Saturday Night Live alum Horatio Sanz and stand-up comic and actor Patton Oswalt.

The #FreeShez hashtag has also been circulating online with a petition for his release.

"We are submitting this in support of Shez and his eventual freeing from being wrongly jailed for making simply a video," Ferrell says in the clip, seated beside McKay.

Thomas Lennon from Reno 911! and The State poked fun at his role in the 2002 critical flop Boat Trip while calling for Cassim's freedom.

"Shez is in prison right now for making a funny video, and yet I was in Boat Trip, and I'm walking free every day," Lennon said.

McKay adds: "Shez, stay strong. Funny or Die supports you, and we support you."

Cassim, who moved to Dubai in 2006 to work as a business consultant, has been in prisons for the last eight months, and is currently at Abu Dhabi's Al-Wathba maximum security prison.

The video he helped film satirizes so-called "Satwa G's," a clique of youths in Dubai's Satwa suburb who have appropriated hip-hop gangsta personas, despite their mostly mild behaviour, according to The Associated Press.

The clip opens with a viewer discretion advisory noting the content is satire and not meant to offend to the people of the UAE or Satwa. Scenes in the mockumentary showed the teens in fictional "combat" training, where they learn how to aim sandals at targets and use their smartphones to call for help.

website has been set up to help spread the message about the circumstances around Cassim's arrest and imprisonment. According to the site, Cassim was accused of endangering the UAE's national security under a cyber crimes law.

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