A Letter to Fouad: What I Know

Dear Fouad,

It has been a month since you were detained, and I miss you. It has been a rough month for the rest of us here, but it is certainly nothing compared to what you have had to go through and still do. They told us you were detained because you violated non-security regulations. Gibberish, to say the least, but that’s what we were told. I really don’t know what kind of law you violated by merely exercising your God given right of free speech, and I don’t know when calling for freedom, justice, peace and moderation has become a crime.

But here is what I know. I know that all these values you called for are worth fighting for. I know that we believe in a just cause, and that tomorrow belongs to us, not them. I know that no matter how long the darkness lasts, the sun will rise again. I want you to know one thing: I am here for you. I will keep supporting you and I will do my best until you are free again and back to your family and friends. You will not be forgotten.

Yours,
Ahmed

Fouad Says…

Sami Ben Gharbia has been working on a randomizer badge for Free Fouad campaign that will display and randomize some of Fouad’s quotes. Sami asked me to help him with translating these quotes, and I thought it would be good to post them here too so you can learn more about Fouad and what he believes in.

First, here’s some selected quotes:

It is only the feebleminded who would use guns and violence to deliver his message.

We desperately need a time of calmness and reconciliation between the different leaderships in our society: Islamists, liberals and the government.

If you were a free citizen and think you have the right speak your mind on what is happening in our country and have something to say, be brave and say it in your real name.

In Saudi Arabia, there is no guarantee that you won’t be arrested because of your frankness and speaking your mind on your blog. But there is also no guarantee when you hide and write in internet forums using a pseudonym.

My advice to anyone that cares about common interest and is angry over what is happening in our country and keeps on writing at internet forums using a pseudonym is to join the blogging world and write using his real name to contribute positively in building the Saudi blogosphere.

And here’s a list of 25 reasons for blogging Fouad presented after he came back from his hiatus:

Why Do We Blog?

1. Because we believe we have opinions that deserve to be heard, and minds that should be respected.
2. Because societies do not progress until they learn to respect opinions of their members. And we would like to see our society progressing.
3. Because blogging is our only option. We do not have a free media, and freedom to assemble is not allowed.
4. Because we want to discuss our opinions.
5. Because we think.
6. Because we care.
7. Because blogging has had a positive effect on other societies and we want to see the same result in our society.
8. Because blogging is a reflection of the life of society members. And we are alive.
9. Because blogging is gaining increasing attention from media and governments. We want them to listen to us.
10. Because we are not scared.
11. Because we reject the cattle mentality.
12. Because we welcome diversity of opinions.
13. Because the country is for all, and we are part of it.
14. Because we want to reach out to everyone.
15. Because we refuse to be an “echo”.
16. Because we are not any less than bloggers in other societies.
17. Because we seek the truth.
18. Because our religion encourages us to speak out.
19. Because we are sick and tired of the Saudi media hypocrisy.
20. Because we are positive.
21. Because blogging is a powerful tool that can benefit society.
22. Because we are affected and we can affect.
23. Because we love our country.
24. Because we enjoy dialogue and don’t run away from it.
25. Because we are sincere.

You Got the Wrong Guy

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.

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