The news of detaining Fouad Al Farhan was not shocking to me because I knew that he has been interrogated and harassed before, but it was certainly disturbing. Although we have seen bloggers in Bahrain, Kuwait and Egypt arrested and jailed, I thought this won’t happen here because a) Saudi Arabia don’t usually jail journalists (they ban them, but they don’t throw them in jail) and b) I thought those arresting citizens who exercise their right of free speech should be wise enough to choose their battles.
Bloggers, journalists, free speech advocates and human rights activists do not carry guns and explosives trying to undermine the government. They are merely exercising their God given right to express themselves freely in the hope of reforming this country and making it a better place. It is a very sad reality when you have people like Fouad who deliver their message of peace and justice detained this way, while extremists in websites like Al Sahat and others are free to poison the minds of youth with a dangerous message that is full of hate and violence.
I have no doubt that King Abdullah is pushing for a reformist agenda. However, it is very unfortunate that some elements in the government are not happy with this agenda because it could curb their powers and change their status. That’s why these elements are so threatened by freedom of expression and therefore try to stifle this freedom even if that means violating basic human rights, national law and international accords.
Let’s pray for Fouad to return to his family and friends, and let’s hope, again, that justice and common sense will prevail soon.