Law professor held, Saudis all atwitter

Mohammed al-Abdulkarim, a Saudi law professor, was arrested Sunday after publishing an article about the royal succession and the possibility of a power struggle inside the ruling family. The article was firs published on al-Abdulkarim’s Facebook profile, and later republished on Royaah magazine website.

Four men, variously wearing civilian clothes and uniforms, arrested him at his Riyadh home, the Human Rights First Society of Saudi Arabia (HRFS) said. Ibrahim al-Mugaiteeb, head of HRFS, told AFP that al-Abdulkarim’s arrest was illegal on two counts: he was taken without a court warrant for his arrest, and has been held for 24 hours without charge.

As usual, local media in Saudi Arabia has ignored the story, but the social web was quick to pick it up. Not too long after the arrest, the news was flying all over Twitter and Facebook. Users on Twitter used the hashtag #FreeDrAbdulkarim to denote their reactions. Most of them expressed anger and frustration at the arrest. “I, and many others, believe in every word Dr. al-Abdulkarim said in his article. Are you going to arrest us too?” Abdulrahman Alnasri said.

However, the most intense exchange of the day on Twitter was between Abdulrahman al-Enad, member of the Shoura Council, and Waleed Abulkhair, the lawyer of Mohammed al-Abdulkarim. Al-Enad said al-Abdulkarim has made a mistake and should be punished. Some of what al-Enad said did not set well with Abulkhair, who demanded the Shoura Council to apologize for what he considered impoliteness. Al-Enad refused to apologize and told Abulkhair in a relatively salty language to shut up.

I was momentarily startled by al-Enad’s choice of words and thought it was a slip of the tongue, but the Shoura member stood by what he said. That prompted the creation of another hashtag, #koltebin, which people are using now to discuss the issue of al-Abdulkarim and the kerfuffle between Abulkhair and al-Enad.

Last week I told you that Twitter is big in Saudi Arabia, but did not elaborate on why is that. This is why.

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Too Much to Ask?

More than 75 days have passed since the arrest of Matrook al-Faleh, the political sciences professor at KSU, who was taken from his office at the university in a manner that is inappropriate and unacceptable, to say the least. No official statement has been released on why he was arrested and what are the charges against him. He remains in solitary confinement and he is yet to be allowed to meet his lawyer.

Jamila al-Uqla, al-Faleh’s wife, has issued a statement today saying what her husband is put through violates Sharia, as well as international laws and accords which oppose any kind of treatment that degrades human dignity. She also called on human rights organizations and activists around the world to speak out for him and ask for his release because his demands are peaceful and public.

There is not much more to say other than repeating what I said here two months ago, and also what 140 intellectuals and activists wrote in a petition to the King that was published in early June. Either release him, or present him to a fair public trial.

Matrook Al-Faleh Arrested

Matrook Al-Faleh, political science professor at KSU, has been arrested on Monday. Al-Faleh went to work yesterday morning but did not return home. His family have found his car in the university parking lot but could not locate him or contact him on his mobile phone. Activist Fowzan Al-Harbi confirmed the arrest but said it is still unknown why Al-Faleh was arrested. It is expected, though, that the arrest is related to his latest statement regarding the situation in Buraida General Prison where fellow activists Abdullah Al-Hamed and his brother Eisa are jailed. Al-Faleh has released a long statement on Saturday saying the situation in prison show extreme violations of human right. The statement also expressed concern about the deteriorating health of Al-Hamed brothers who have started a hunger strike last week. The statement asked King Abdullah to interfere to stop the violations, and appealed to human rights organizations to support the jailed activists.

Fouad’s Letter

I received a copy from the letter sent by Fouad to his friends a few days before his arrest. This letter provides some details on the reasons behind his arrest. Here’s the text of the letter:

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 caused 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 u go. There may be no jial 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.

Don’t worry Fouad, we are here for you and we will do our best until you’re free and back to your family and friends. We will not forget you.