The Center for Democracy and Human Rights, located in Washington, DC
Reiterates its call for the immediate and unconditional release of the innocent Saudi blogger,
As Saudis became aware of blogging’s potential to work wonders in a stifling society such as their own, the new internet medium gained widespread popularity. The use of the internet became an empowering tool for oppressed Saudis because they could use it at anytime, anywhere they happened to be. Today, Saudis can use the internet at home, abroad, via mobile phones, Blueberries, and Bluetooth. More importantly, they can use it without the omnipresence of the Saudi government’s layers of ruthless spying agents. This empowerment gave the Saudi internet users, especially the bloggers, a profound sense of freedom to talk about politics, corruption, oppression, religion, sex, and individual liberty.
One such blogger is the courageous Fouad Al-Farhan of Jeddah, a major liberal and cosmopolitan city in the Hijaz region, by the
Fouad Al-Farhan put his life at risk through his actions and opinions. It is for this reason that he is known as the godfather of Saudi blogging. On December 11th, 2007, Al-Farhan was snatched by the dreaded agents of Prince Naif’s Ministry of Interior, ostensibly for reasons other than his demands for better governance. Saudis know his arrest was the immediate result of his refusal to retract some of his blogposts criticizing Saudi officials. In order to avoid domestic and international condemnation, such as that which occurred in the case of the gang-raped bint Al-Qatief in December, the loathed Minister of Interior, Prince Naïf, did not close Al-Farhan’s blogging activities. However, Al-Farhan has been languishing in the notorious Saudi penitentiary, Dahban, since December 11th, 2007, and apparently has yet to be informed of the charges pressing against him.
The question is, why was Fouad Al-Farhan really arrested? If his arrest was due to his writings, which most Saudis seem to suspect, then this is direct proof that the reform King Abdullah and his hired propagandists in the West brag about is a farce. Why is it a crime for the new generation of young citizens to discuss issues that shape and affect every aspect of their daily lives, as well as the future of their society and fragile country?
On January 5th, 2007, Al-Farhan’s father-in-law was allowed to meet with him for one hour inside Jeddah’s Dahban Prison. The next day, blogs across the
CDHR urges you to do the same, because without global exposure and condemnation of harsh Saudi policies, the infringement of basic individual liberties and gross violations of human rights will continue under the autocratic political and religious policies of the Saudi-Wahhabi system.
Ali H. Alyami, Ph. D.
Executive Director, The Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
1050 17 St. NW Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 558-5552; (202) 413-0084; Fax: (202) 536-5210