Funny Or Die has a new campaign and it’s to #FreeShez. In April, American citizen Shezanne “Shez” Cassim was jailed in the United Arab Emirates for posting a comedy video to YouTube in 2012. The 19-minute video parodies a group of gangster posers in Dubai who take their life lessons from hip-hop. The former Minnesota resident, who moved to Dubai to work as a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers, is currently in a maximum-security prison in Abu Dhabi. The UAE government claims that the comedian and his friends endangered the country’s security under federal cyber-crimes law.
So Funny or Die is trying to raise awareness with a new video featuring cell phone videos by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Bob Odenkirk, Patton Oswalt, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Thomas Lennon and others pleading for the release of the 29-year old comedian. “If you start putting people in jail for making videos that you don’t like, then you’re going to have to lock up The Polyphonic Spree, and that’s no fun for anybody,” said Oswalt. The UAE has a history of strict censorship laws and extreme cultural standards, including the outlaw of homosexuality and gender inequality. Reno 911’s Lennon points out, “Shez is in prison for making a funny video and, yet, I was in Boat Trip and I am walking free every day.”
Funny or Die is currently selling “#FreeShez” T-shirts with all proceeds going to the Free Shezanne Cassim Fund. They are in touch with Cassim’s family and are doing all they can to help the situation. Odenkirk has been redialing Dubai for days (only to receive an answering machine). The U.S. State Department is apparently monitoring the case and attend his court hearings. His case was once again delayed this week. The next court date is scheduled for Dec. 23. Producer Ally Hord, the woman behind the comedy website’s involvement, said, “This is our job everyday, and this kid got imprisoned for doing what we get to do for a living. And we heard from the CNN [clip] that he’s a fan of SNL and Funny or Die…I mean, he’s one of our own!”
Check out the compilation video below as well as the video that got Shez locked up in prison. Tweet out your support with the hashtag #FreeShez.