‘Saudi Arabian liberals’ website founder detained since one year

Raif Badawi

Raif Badawi

Amnesty International urged the Saudi Arabian authorities to release immediately and unconditionally a website founder who is still detained and on trial one year after his arrest for expressing his views online.

After founding “Saudi Arabian Liberals” – an online forum for political and social debate – Raif Badawi, 29, was charged last June with “setting up a website that undermines public security” and ridiculing Islamic religious figures. The prosecution had on the basis of this called for him to be tried for “apostasy”, which carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.
He has been detained for the past year in a prison in Briman, in the Saudi Arabian coastal city of Jeddah, after being arrested on 17 June 2012.

“One year on, Raif Badawi remains behind bars as his trial continues for the ‘crime’ of encouraging social debate online,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“His detention shows the authorities’ contempt for online expression, and serves as a warning to the third of the Saudi Arabian population who are resorting to social media to express themselves, particularly if they are thinking of airing dissenting views.”

The charges against Raif Badawi relate to a number of articles he has written, including one about Valentine’s Day for which he is accused of ridiculing Saudi Arabia’s Commission on the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

One of his articles concluded:
“Congratulations to us for the Commission on the Promotion of Virtue for teaching us virtue and for its eagerness to ensure that all members of the Saudi public are among the people of paradise.”

The charges against the website founder also mention his failure to remove articles by other people on his website, including one that insinuates that Al-Imam Mohamed ibn Saud University had become “a den for terrorists”.

“Amnesty International considers Raif Badawi to be a prisoner of conscience and therefore calls for him to be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther.

His trial began in June 2012 in the District Court in Jeddah, and was marred by irregularities there. According to his lawyer, the original trial judge was replaced by a judge who had advocated that Raif Badawi be punished for “apostasy”. His lawyer contested the judge’s impartiality in the case.

On 17 December, the District Court referred the case to the General Court in Jeddah, which five days later made Raif Badawi sign documents to enable his trial for “apostasy” to proceed.
Conflicting views over which court had jurisdiction over the case, relating in part to the judge at the District Court insisting that he be tried for “apostasy” – something only the General Court can do – resulted in the case being shuffled between several courts. Most recently on 8 June the District Court sent the case back to the appeal court once again insisting that he be tried for “apostasy” despite the appeal court not considering that he be tried on that charge.

“Raif Badawi’s trial has been an attempt to intimidate him and others who seek to engage in open debates about the issues that Saudi Arabians face in their daily lives,” said Philip Luther.
Over the past two years, the Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested several others for expressing online views deemed to be contrary to Islam.
Hamza Kashgari remains detained without charge or trial since he was extradited from Malaysia in February 2012, where he had fled after he wrote about the Prophet Muhammed on the social network Twitter.
The prominent writer and academic Turki al-Hamad was reportedly released without charge on 5 June after he was detained in December 2012 for tweets also deemed contrary to Islam.

Bloggers, critics and activists have been increasingly singled out for their online activism in the Gulf kingdom.

On 9 March 2013, the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) was required to shut down its social media accounts and disband. Two of ACPRA’s founders, Mohammad al-Qahtani and Dr Abdullah al-Hamid, were sentenced to 10 and 11 years’ imprisonment respectively. They submitted appeals against their sentences on 28 May.

From: Amnesty International

Americanbedu Blog Future

artsy-writer-working

Dear readers,

As you all know the Americanbedu site has been more than an average Blog. It created a sense of community where people from different backgrounds joined on a daily basis to read Carol’s thoughts and interact with each other. Carol had worked diligently to provide materials that spurred interesting discussions, debates and better understanding.

One of Carol’s wishes is for the blog to continue providing this benefit to her readers after her passing. As her friends we would like to honor her wishes and continue her legacy. We cannot promise the same diligence of writing a daily post, but we will do our best to write an interesting article on a weekly basis. We would also like to solicit help from the readers in ghost writing. 

Here are some thoughts on helping us achieve the goal:

  • Volunteers can send posts to the admin mailbox admin@americanbedu.com. We will schedule them for publishing and let you know of the date
  • Writers can remain anonymous, include a monogram, screen name or real name. We will honor your choice
  • Articles should relate to Saudi Arabia or Breast Cancer
  • In keeping with Carol’s mission, articles should promote understanding and not overly promote specific political ideology or religion
  • Articles relating to expat experiences in Saudi Arabia will be of keen interest

There are no expectations of commitment to any specific number of posts or schedule from volunteers. Just send us an email to the admin email-box indicating your interest. We may send requests every now and then for help, but we will not require action.

Please, let us know your thoughts in the comment section on how to keep the blog active and a place for this community of readers to visit and enjoy. 

Saudi Arabia: Gratitude for the Spam Filter

spam

cs.berkeley.edu

 

I don’t know exactly how a spam filter really works but I am very appreciative of what it does.  American Bedu blog easily receives in excess of 500 spam comments per day.  Thankfully the spam filter works well.

If I had not set the blog up so that first time commenter’s went into moderation, this blog would be a mess full of spam.

Somehow I envision the internet as these long waterways with many channels going off into differing directions.  Within these waterways are the spam which are like aggressive little sperm swimming by the thousands if not millions into the different channels such as blogs.

American Bedu wishes to give readers a small sampling of what they are thankfully missing:

  • This article gives clear idea for the new users of blogging,
    that really how to do running a blog.

    • I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout
      of your website? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
      But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    • Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or
      two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?
    • Greetings! Very useful advice within this post!
    • It is the little changes that make the biggest changes.
    • Many thanks for sharing!
    • Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to assert that
      I acquire in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I will be subscribing
      to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.
    • I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to design my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. Cheers
    • If you coffee diet are dehydrated it might be wise not to use
      caffeine until you are considered extremely obese.
    • I comprehend this specific when away from subject but I am just looking into starting up my own weblog website along with ended up being wondering what almost all can be find build? I am if getting a weblog like yours might any great deal of cash? I’m not really truly world wide web informed thus That’s not me 100% selected. Any kind of recommendations as well as suggestions will be significantly treasured. Thanks a lot

 

I’m certain you also notice a certain theme to the typical spam.  However, what you do not see and will not see is that most of these comments are generally associated with a URL of an inappropriate web site.  In addition, most of these comments seem to be written in response to the ‘Dear Bedu,’ Debate Page or other posts which are non-related to the spam comment.

Ahhhh, the joys of maintaining a blog!

Saudi Arabia: Fluffy the Comedian Visits Saudi Arabia

I’ve had a series of serious posts on sensitive issues so I decided it was time for something light and entertaining.

This 24 minute video is worth watching in its duration and guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccnwzScp6bM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

 

Saudi Arabia: The Presence of Public Relations

pr

jazarah.net

 

I became curious about the demographics and number of public relation firms within the Kingdom.  As I started my search, I believe I may have found a story within the story.

To begin with, there are a number of public relations firms located throughout the Kingdom.  The force behind some of these firms may be blurred in that it is difficult to determine if the key officials are Saudis or non-Saudis.

However, what truly surprised me the most in conducting this research is that the Saudi government had engaged a PR firm which was Jewish owned.  Given the limited lack of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, I never expected to uncover a Jewish owned firm providing public relation services on behalf of the Kingdom.

Another refreshing surprise was when searching LinkedIn with the key words public relations and Saudi Arabia, in addition to many male profiles, a number of female profiles came up too.  It seems that public relations is a viable and acceptable industry for women in the Kingdom.

Here are some of the numerous hits I received about PR firms in the Kingdom:

Traccs Public Relations with offices in Riyadh, Jeddah and Damman.

Tihama Advertising and Public Relations located in Jeddah.

This site provides a comprehensive list of PR firms in the Kingdom, to include the presence of the US firm, Hill and Knowlton, located in Riyadh.

This site contains even more listings of PR firms located throughout the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia: Call Her Selma, “J”, Saudi Stepford Wife…She’s Still an Abused Woman

domestic violence

Abuse takes place in all places of the world.  However, most places do have a fair and just legal system in place if that abuse is reported.  While inroads are being made in Saudi Arabia, they are not being made fast enough.

This past week, Selma Ahmed (not her real name) was apprehended and arrested because she left with her two daughters to get out of an abusive relationship from her Saudi husband.  Selma, although not of Saudi origin, does have Saudi citizenship.  Monday, April 29, police officers came to her place of work and arrested her.  The charges are she and her two adult daughters had left the home of her husband without his permission.

Activist and photographer, Samia El-Moslimany, spoke with the police officer and he told her that Selma will be detained until she is willing to return to her husband’s house.  In spite of the fact that Selma fears for her life is she returns, the police officer put on deaf ears and stated that Selma will continue to be detained until she goes back to her husband.

According to the policeman, the “established procedure” is that Selma must first return home and then she can file a formal complaint.  Selma’s husband came to the police station and insisted she return home with him.  He attempted to force her and assaulted her in front of police officers.

Selma was transferred to Briman Women’s Prison in Jeddah.  The fate of her daughters is unknown and there is fear that the father may have forcibly made them return home.

Selma’s case is here and now and requires immediate action.  She should not be contained in a prison because she fears for her life from her abusive husband.  Now is the time for Saudi Arabia’s reforms in domestic violence to be put into immediate action.

Sadly, Selma is not my first exposure of domestic violence in Saudi Arabia.  Another case was “Saudi Stepford Wife.”  Saudi Stepford Wife was an engaging American woman married to a Saudi and had also obtained Saudi nationality.  She lived in the Eastern Province.  She maintained a blog which I enjoyed reading very much.  We got to know one another through our blogs which eventually led to email exchanges and finally a personal meeting in 2008.  I hosted her in my home while her Saudi husband attended business meetings.

By that time we had become pretty close and she shared her dark secret with me.  She was married to an abusive man and feared for her safety.  Her parents were elderly and she did not want them to know.  She also swore me to silence.

I rue that day.  If I could go back and do things differently, I would.  I would not have honored my promise to her.  Although I never met or saw her husband, my spouse met him when he came to pick up Saudi Stepford Wife from my home.  I’ll never forget my husband coming back in to the house with such a look of distaste on his face.  He looked at me and said “That man is a pig and gives his wife no respect.”

After that visit I only heard from Saudi Stepford Wife two more times.  Since she had shared her secret with me, she was telling me how she had plans to leave her husband and take a job in Jeddah.  Sadly, her plans never came to fruition.  She simply disappeared off the radar.  Enquiries revealed that she had suffered a bad fall and as a result, was afflicted with terrible brain damage.  She did not know who she was or even where she was.  No one was able to make contact with her.  Her husband made sure of that.  This is a heavy burden of guilt that I still continue to bear for in retrospect, I should never have kept her secret.

Last but not least, there is dear “J” , a Saudi woman, who candidly shared her experience with American Bedu readers.  Thankfully she was able to get herself extracted from her hideous experience and find true love.  Sadly though, she was taken too soon due to the insidious disease of cancer.  However, she left her imprint on many of us around the world.

Yes; I am aware of other cases of domestic violence in the Kingdom.  However, I am much more outspoken and forward with any woman who shares that secret with me.  At a minimum, any woman in Saudi Arabia should have the web site and phone numbers for the Kingdom’s new domestic violence program sponsored by the King Khalid Foundation.

 

nb Update:  American Bedu is so happy to report that thanks to the efforts of Samia El-Moslimany and her team of heros, Selma is now safe!  She has been released from jail and safe with Samia.  They are now searching for her daughters.  Please take time out and say a prayer that Selma and her daughters will be reunited soon.

Saudi Arabia: Alcoholism in the Kingdom

alcoholic

steadyhealth.com

 

Alcohol is legally forbidden in the Kingdom and against Islam.  Possession of alcohol or public drunkenness carries strict penalties.  Yet that being said, there are individuals in Saudi Arabia, both Saudis and expatriates, who have alcohol addiction problems.  Expatriates may have had their addiction prior to arrival in the Kingdom and some Saudis may acquired their addiction while outside of the Kingdom.  However, there are also individuals actively battling against an alcohol addiction within the Kingdom.

There are Saudis with WASTA who are able to acquire alcohol.  Foreign Embassies and diplomats have an exemption and are allowed set quantities of alcohol. There are also a number of bootleggers who illegally bring alcohol into the Kingdom’s borders.  These bootleggers believe the high risks, which can include the death penalty, is worth the ultimate gain in profits.  In addition, there is a wide “home brew” market in the Kingdom where others make their own spirits within the privacy of their homes.  Last but not least, many Western compounds which prohibit Saudis from being on the property, will have a bar which will also sell “home brew.”

Alcoholism is a disease and while alcohol is illegal in the Kingdom, treatment for the disease is available.  This is not a topic that is widely discussed and some individuals battling with an alcohol addiction in the Kingdom may not know where to turn for help.

This link  takes one to the web site for Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in Saudi Arabia.  Meetings take place in the cities of Dhahran and also Al-Khobar (Eastern Province).  In addition there are meetings in Riyadh and Jeddah.

Although the website Alcohol Rehab does not contain factual information in regards to the availability of AA in Saudi Arabia, it does contain good background  information on illegal alcohol in Saudi Arabia and the dangers of “home brew.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,146 other followers

%d bloggers like this: