After the silly hugger-mugger following my post on the banned episode of Tash Ma Tash, the last thing I needed was another trigger to make more people open their fire at me. This trigger was a recent interview with Reuters. The interview was published on the front pages of Al Hayat in Saudi Arabia, Gulf News in Dubai, and Arab Times in Kuwait, as well as some newspapers and websites in Europe and the United States.
However, the biggest reaction received by far was when the website of Al Arabiya news channel ran the story. AlArabiya.net, known for their tabloid style of reporting, decided to spice it up by using a different title: “He wears jeans instead of the white thobe and attacks those who decline change: The Most Famous Saudi Blogger Considers Life in the Kingdom “Chronically Boring”". The second part of the title was later changed to a more provocative line: “”Saudi Jeans” Would Like to Change the Life of Youth in Saudi Arabia”, as if this blog was some kind of political organization or something :-)
I have no problem with the title, because it is the content of the article that counts, not the title, even if it was purposefully provocative. In the same manner, I expect others to focus on the content of my blog and ideas and opinions I offer here, not the name Saudi Jeans, and certainly not myself. Therefor, I did not like the way AlArabiya.net presented the interview, and how they misquoted me. I would assume the misquotation was a mistake because it is such a common mistake in the media, but that does not change the fact that it was a clear mistake.
The article has attracted more than 200 comments, most of them are… well, I don’t want to go into describing these comments, so maybe it is better for you to go there and read them yourself. There was a few nice comments, and one of them was by a fellow blogger, Abdullah Al Shahrani who wrote a good post on Tash too. Since AlArabiya.net readers are infamously known for their nasty comments, this should not come as a surprise, at least not to me. Moreover, this proves my statement in the interview that our society remains deeply conservative. I think the fact that many people are willing to attack you personally simply because you called for some not very radical changes, and even if they never heard of you before is quite manifesting of such statement.
If I read such comments about me two years ago, I would have probably quit blogging altogether. Comments such as “Shut up! You are raised on the hands of Philippine nannies and maids” (I wasn’t), “leave this country, you little Westernized spoiled brat” (I won’t, and I’m not), or “anyone who wants to look at failure should look at his person” (ok!), would have left me devastated. But I have grown a thicker skin. Being under attack, no matter how the attack is personal and uncivilized, does not affect me that much anymore. And even if it got me, I would simply take a short break from blogging, spend a few days away, forget about the whole thing, and then get back to business.