Then They Came for the Bloggers

There are about two hundred bloggers in Saudi Arabia. The biggest one has been “detained”:

Mr. Farhan, 32, of Jidda, was arrested Dec. 10 at his office, local news sources reported. Two weeks before his arrest, he wrote a letter to friends warning them that it was imminent.

“I was told that there is an official order from a high-ranking official in the Ministry of the Interior to investigate me,” read the letter, which is now posted in English and Arabic on Mr. Farhan’s blog.

You can see the letter on his blog, with a copy in English (scroll down). The blog header has a picture of Mr. Farahan with the inscription “Free Fouad.” His blog friends are keeping post entries up-to-date.

[Hmm…I wonder if that means we should appoint someone ahead of time to be our administrator ex-officio when if we’re hauled off to the hoosegow for our chronic lack of political correctness?/joke: America still has a healthy Jacksonian strain running through the gene pool. It’s not yet time for pinching lowly bloggers]

The story continuees:

“The issue that caused all of this is because I wrote about the political prisoners here in Saudi Arabia, and they think I’m running an online campaign promoting their issue,” the letter continued, saying that Mr.Farhan had been asked to sign a statement of apology.

“I’m not sure if I’m ready to do that,” he wrote. “An apology for what? Apologizing because I said the government is a liar when they accused those guys to be supporting terrorism?”

A fellow blogger says that his arrest detention has caused anxiety among his confreres. Duh…when they come for Glenn Reynolds, let me know – I’ll head to the bunker with the Baron and all my history books.

Ahmad al-Omran, a blogger and a friend of Mr. Farhan, said that Mr. Farhan had been the first Saudi blogger to be detained by state security. The arrest created widespread anxiety among other Saudi bloggers and advocates, he said.

“An incident like this has its effect,” Mr. Omran said by telephone. “It’s intimidating to think you might be arrested for something on your blog. On the other hand, this means that these voices on the blogosphere are being heard. But it’s really sad that a blogger who is writing about important issues out in the open would get arrested, while there are extremists who call for violence and hate, and the government is not doing much.”

But the Sauds say otherwise:

“The violation is not a security matter,” General Turki said. “He is not being jailed. He is being questioned, and I don’t believe he will remain in detention long. They will get the information that they need from him and then they will let him go.”

Mr. Farhan’s “questioning” detention began on December 10th. It must be taking them a looong time to “get the information that they need.” I do wonder how many digits or appendages will be missing when he is released from this non-jail incarceration.

I have no doubt he will be let go. It’s just the Saudi way of doing business with its citizens, especially those who dither on about free speech or otherwise run afoul of Wahhabi rules and regs.

Meanwhile, I suppose you heard about the pardon and release of the rape victim?
– – – – – – – –

King Abdullah has pardoned a woman who was sentenced to 200 lashes after pressing charges against seven men who raped her, a Saudi newspaper reported Monday.


The case has provoked a rare and angry public debate in Saudi Arabia, leading to renewed calls for an overhaul of the Saudi judicial system.


The woman and her former boyfriend, who was also pardoned, were originally sentenced to 90 lashes for being together in private, while the attackers received sentences ranging from 10 months to five years in prison, and 80 to 1,000 lashes. For a woman to be meeting in private with a man who is not her husband or a relative is a crime in Saudi Arabia, where the legal code is based on a strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islamic law.

This is the usual Saudi cynical response to such situations. I didn’t report on it at the time because…well, what was the point? It’s Wahhabi Theatre for the masses. You can click on the link to read the full story on the behind-the-scenes machinations, though you probably can guess already.

Stories like these make me miss The Religious Policeman. Reading his posts always gave me hope for the Kingdom…hope in the long run, anyway.

Hat tip: Flyboy

5 thoughts on “Then They Came for the Bloggers

  1. Anyone who is surprised by this turn of events probably needs to get out a lot more often. Saudi Arabia is a totalitarian Islamic theocracy masquerading as a monarchy. The House of Saud bears a fundamental responsibility for spreading terrorism and the de facto standardization of radical Wahhabist doctrine as the world’s accepted form of Islam. Both of these actions represent crimes against humanity. Another round of Nuremburg trials should await both the Saudi royals and whatever upper tiers of Wahhabist clergy that survive the impending culling of their ranks by infuriated Western nations.

    America is well within its rights to simply appropriate the Ghawar oil field as compensation for the 9-11 atrocity’s trillion dollar financial impact upon this nation’s economy. The House of Saud is a corrupt and malicious entity that long ago should have been blasted from the face of this earth. Their continued purchase of outgoing American diplomats and appointees represents an extremely dangerous practice. Legal measures should be taken to prohibit such acquisition of influence and information. The same should apply to Islamic investment in our media outlets, financial institutions and other influential industries. If it wants to survive, the West needs to become far more Islam-unfriendly.

  2. Of course, if a government really wants to silence bloggers, it can simply shut down access to the Internet altogether, as was done in Burma last year when the Buddhist monks staged mass protests and the military regime started beating and shooting them. When the dispatches and photos from Burmese bloggers stopped coming, the story very quickly moved off page one and then vanished completely, leaving the fascist junta still in the catbird seat.

  3. The Religious Policeman is an impressive blog. It is a pity it is not updated anymore.

    However, one has to thank its author for keeping it accessible online. It is a tremendous testimony on the medieval dictatorship which is the islamic Saudi theocracy.

    Very well written, too, with a hilarious wit seldom found on such dreadful subjects as judicial eye-gouging, to quote but a single example.

    It is full of objective facts which never get reported in the Western media and which should have human rights militants jump up and down.

    Most extraordinary is the fact that many of the horrors reported by the blog’s author have been picked off the official online Saudi media. In English. Right there on the Web for everybody to see.

  4. Mr. Marchenoir–

    If you’ll notice, he claimed to have quit blogging in order to write a book. So maybe he’ll be back.

    This blog below is no longer active either, but it’s funny in a strange kind of Soviet Russian way. Only this is Syria…probably about the same level of oppression:

    Syria Exposed

    You can start in the early posts to get the flavor of it. The stories about military life are grimly hilarious.

    I often wonder what happened to these guys.

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