Inside the Middle East - Blog
January 3, 2008
Another Blogger Detained In The Middle East
This time, it's in Saudi Arabia.

A week before U.S. President George W. Bush travels to the region, a tour which includes a stop in Riyadh for face-to-face talks with ally King Abdallah, it has been made public that authorities have "detained" Saudi blogger Fouad Al-Farhan.

(Courtesy alfarhan.org)

The Interior Ministry says Al-Farhan was arrested last month for "violating the Kingdom's laws".

Below is a letter sent by Fouad himself to his friends a few days before his arrest. It is posted on his blog in Arabic and English.

"I was told that there is an official order from a high-ranking official in the Ministry of the Interior to investigate me. They will pick me up anytime in the next 2 weeks.

The issue that cause all of this is because I wrote about the political prisoners here in Saudi Arabia and they think I’m running a online campaign promoting their issue. All what I did is wrote some pieces and put side banners and asked other bloggers to do the same. He asked me to comply with him and sign an apology. I’m not sure if I’m ready to do that. An apology for what? Apologizing because I said the government is liar when they accused those guys to be supporting terrorism?

To expect the worst which is to be jailed for 3 days till we write good feedback about you and let you go.

There may be no jail and only apologizing letter. But if it’s more than three days, it should be out. I don’t want to be forgotten in jail."


Thanks to Tracy Doueiry of CNN's Arab Affairs Desk for collecting much of the information related to this case. Check out CNN.com's story on the blogging community's reaction here.


Update: Many in the Middle East blogging community are publicly calling for the release of Fouad Al-Farhan. One in particular, 24-year-old Riyadh resident Ahmed Al-Omran, is asking readers to sign an online petition on his blog saudijeans.org. Al-Omran is scheduled to appear today on Your World Today on CNN International and CNN at Noon EST.


We will continue to monitor the story and post updates on this blog. Watch this space throughout the day.

--Posted by Hala Gorani
Cracking down on a blogger won't help Saudi Arabia's image. On the contrary. The more people agitate and ask for his release (when in jail), the more attention is given to the Kingdom's nefarious activities activities
Hope Fouad Al-Farhan will be allright
When you live in a kingdom governed by a King you have to play by the Kings rules. Freedom of speech apparently doesn’t exist in that country as we know it in the West. If the local law says you don't speak against the government without penalty of jail then I would quit talking ill of the government or move.
If there is no freedom for speech actually there is no law.
When will we finally question our governments relationships with this corrupt regime? Whatever happened to promoting democracy in the region?

It takes brave souls like Fouad Al-Farhan to peal away the ugly mask that is Saudi Arabia.
Kingdoms have no place in today's world. They all should be abolished.
CNN is pretending that this Saudi blogger is some sort of victim.
A cursory reading of the available facts reveals he is most probably an apologist for Al Qaeda.
In other words just another justifier of Al Qaeda terror.
Free speech in such circumstances is not the issue.
James
Just read the other comments.
Aint never gonna be blog owner approval for anything I write on this Jihadi propaganda site.
Comment moderation indeed.
I thought you were all so in favour of free speech...
James
There are many ways to fight a corrupt Government. In my opinion Blogging about the government where you live knowing that if you speak against the Government you might be imprisoned is foolish. You can accomplish nothing in prison sitting on a dirt floor especially if you are a resident of that country and were aware of the existing law. Had this blogger been from lets say Europe he would have been deported so as to curb the possibility of invoking a riot and unrest. That is their Governments way of curbing the potential against violence or uprising, to silence it. Saying that an entire Government is corrupt because you don't understand it's laws is also foolish. No one makes you live in a country, you are always free to go elsewhere if you do not like the way things are done. In America we have to wait 4 years for a new President and we may or may not get change and that change may be better or worse. There will always be corruption in any government anywhere because the Government is the absolute power and absolute power corrupts, absolutely.
Stick it to Saudi Arabia -
STOP USING GAS!!!
Bike, Take the Bus, Walk...
Everytime you fill up you support the Kingdom...
The SA government was wrong to arrest him, because it should the right of all citizens to question the government whether you agree with the comments or not. A good government would heed the criticisms of the general public and try to improve. The government is there to serve the people they govern not to trample on them and think about themselves only.
Send an e-mail of complain to the Saudi ambassador in Brussels. Find more info and a model text here:

http://catalunyafastforward.blogspot.com/2008/01/llibertat-per-fouad-al-farhan-blocaire.html

Free Fouad!
Marc Arza
Freedom: the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints..Do you really think there is such a condition as "Freedom"? Listen to all the religions of the world...hmmmmmm...Freedoms?
Wake up!!!
The Saudi Government should learn from the White House. 70% of American citizens what to exit Iraq immediately. The White House just ignores them. American's what health care for indigent children. The White vetoes congress and ignores the people. The overwhelming majority of the people want the country rid of illegal aliens. The White House ignores them. So you don't have to throw dissidents in jail. Just ignore them like Bush and the Republicans have been doing the past 3 years.
this calls for "Bloggers without Borders"
Incarcerating Mr. Fouad Al-Farhan shows how far Saudi Arabia is from its reforms program. The time has come for the King to put this program back in motion and for Mr. Bush to place the subject on his agenda when he visits the King. Mr. Al-Farhan´s release would be a positive step in the right direction for all parties concerned,including the controlled direction Saudi Arabia is headed.
Ronald Watson
Madrid, Spain
Freedom is a state of mind not a right. Those that do nothing to enforce or fight to be free do not deserve that state of mind nor will they ever get it. Some people will never feel free no mater what. In America we are free to say what we want when we want and how we want until we violate a law. When we violate the law that freedom feeling is taken away and replaced with a cell. Same in any country when you do not abide by the laws of that country. Speaking out against an establishment can be done but it has to be done with a majority of support. Without that support anything written or orated will fall on deaf ears. There are much more effective ways to battle a government then getting yourself lock up and then wanting people from the West to intervene in a Country they have very little influence over in the first place. This is not a Western problem this is A Saudi problem and certainly not a human rights problem. The Saudi Government or the Saudi people do not intervene in Western affairs that do not concern them and rightfully so. Fouad Al-Farhan violated his countries laws and that is his problem. Had he not violated his own countries laws I might have been supportive of him.
Lucky this wasn't a female, otherwise she would have got twice the punishment.
Remember people(Americans), your president SUPPORTS this government(Saudi royal family, 'Bandar Bush').
I'm not sure if its a freedom of speech issue. I really wonder. He was probably blogging for months if not years. What did he say that made him got him in Jail?

I personally think that he criticized a certain person (maybe) - a prince for example - any relative to the royal family has economic and enforcement powers to some degree. Thus, this prince probably complained, and they wanted to get this guy just to shut him up. Or thats just my guess..

Nevertheless, no one should be jailed for blogging.
To Bloggers : The united states is a land of freedoms,such as the right to travel or state your opinons.These rights are part of a backround that balances laws and personal rights.
China does not give such rights ,nor does countries in the middle east.
The point being, each country is entitled to have their laws followed-law and order becomes the backbone for what is ,are is not allowed.
Computers, blackberry, or some other gaget provides opportunity not rights ,that"you" may avail to yourselve.DO not confuse access with rights.
What is right or good in my country does not lend itself to a belief it's the same worldwide.A contrary belief leads to choas.
The united states stands alone in
personal freedoms.But the laws are to be followed by each person,or accept the conq's.What we do does not mean every other country must do,or vica versa-what other countries do may not be right
for u.s. citizens.
Yours, Edward Winkle Texas(edward.winkle@sbcglobal.net)
Im a westernized, well travelled, tolerant, IB student at the British International School of Jeddah. This is my first year living in Jeddah, but I was born here, and have visited for the past 17 years of my life. One of the most difficult parts of living in this country, is attempting to conform to the norm, and live by the laws and regulations. As much as many of us would like to speak out against the "unjustness" of what happens on Saudi Arabian territory, the fact remains that our voices are insignificant. Yes, I do believe in freedom of speech, and yes, I do beleive that we are all born equal. However, the fact of the matter remains that we will all be condemned for saying anything about the way things are run.

It is often difficult for westerners to think on the same wavelegth as Middle Easterners, however this region is largely influenced by Islam, and therefore thinks and acts very differently. Much of what is accepted in the west, is frowned upon in the middle east, not only be governments, but by the general population as well.

My conclusion, therefore, must be the following: If you live in a nation that prosecutes such acts, then you must conform by the laws of the country. In rebelling against the government, you are creating a very negative image of Saudi Arabia, Arabs, and Islam. Things aren;t going to change around here,no matter how much international coverage and pressure is put upon the Saudis, therefore the best thing to do is to just accept the status of the nation. Moreover, I, personally, would take my Blogging opportunity to speak about the positives of Islam and Arabs, rather than add to the negative eye under which we are seen internationally.
Outside Borders: The belief that "what good for me",a u.s. citizen is also good for those in other countries. Or vica versa.
Each country has it's own laws,traditions,and culture.The backbone to a country is the rule of law.
Gagets. Computers,Blackberrys may provide new access.But not the right to do as you wish with them.Contrary belief leads to choas.
Stop whinning,mature a little and if you wish change your countries policies.
Just keep in mind goverments are not easily changed,nor do they take kindly to those who break those laws.
YOU may not like what happens when you do,but thats what "choice'
means.
when it is freedom for a blogger we see westerners left and right attaking Saudi Arabia or Egypt.when five French were convicted in Chad for trading in Children the western world start shouting about their freedom from Chad.when one Journalist is Imprisoned in Syria or Libya the western world start talking about freedom of expression.but when the US murder millions of people in Iraq, or Israel kill thousands of Palestinians and put 15000 in prison most of them for the same Freedom of Expression,the western world is silence.Israel captured members of Parliament in the west bank for the last two years they are in Israeli Jails no one in the west is protesting.and the west asks Why do they hate us? the west created Al qaeda because of their policies and double standard in the Arab and Muslim world.in reply to why they hate us?the Arabs ask the question why is the west that stupid?
Although I Like his style of writing, Mr. Fouad has chosen lately to attack, degrade , and humiliate some well know figures. There is a big difference between freedom of expression and running wild. I think it is a matter of enforcing the law, before they release him from prison, very soon. No one should ever resort to this type of writing to attract attention to his web site. I know, as a matter of fact certain, the king Abdullah first rule is " you can accomplish with mercy more then you can with justice". By the way for those who think Saudi Arabia is governed by an oppressive regime, they are wrong. Never judge by hearing, see and experience first. I would not like to live anywhere else. I am not claiming it is heaven, but noting is perfect, especially if you consider the neighborhood you are living in. By the way I hold a PhD degree in Real Estate economics, just to have some confidence in what I just wrote.
Dear PhD in real state, I am a Saudi citizen and a blogger who believes that what Fouad said about some known figures in the country was not the reason for his arrest even if I compeltly disagree with his way of writing. In the same time, I wonder if what you have said is true, does it really deserve more than a month in jail without seeing his family?.

I strongly believe in the responsibility of us, Saudi citizens, to contribute to the change in our country by being honest and express our views. It should not be limited to critisizing the "bad" things we see but I also believe that no one should be jaild for expressing their thoughts!.
Bush is in the UAE today and he is saying that Iran is a threat to world security. Doesn't that sound so much like what he said about Iraq? Why do countries in the Gulf region and the rest of the world put up with this.
to terry. the world is not listening.this mad man have no respect for international law.did you hear him telling the Palestinians to forget about UN resolutions it will take you no where.this man is a disgrace to human decency.
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