Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ali al-Zuwaidy internet freedom trial on Reuters

Nice story here. Oman has hit the Reuters wire service over the on-going trial of an Omani internet forum 'moderator' Ali al-Zuwaidy.

If you surf the Omani bloggosphere you'd already know about it. Muscati and BlueChi are doing a reasonable job there.

Here's the report.

Oman Web trial raises censorship concerns
Wed Apr 8, 2009 4:02pm BST

By Andrew Hammond
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The trial in Oman of a Web moderator over criticism of the government in a popular Internet forum has led to calls for the Gulf Arab state to ease its grip on the media and improve business transparency.

Ali al-Zuwaidy was detained for 11 days earlier this year for questioning over an anonymous post suggesting corruption in state telecom firm Omantel and for publishing a cabinet directive putting an end to live radio phone-ins.

A verdict in Zuwaidy's trial is due on April 21.

It is the latest in a series of legal cases concerning Internet blogs, forums and websites in the Arab world, where rights groups say governments are clamping down. The Internet has become a popular arena for discussion partly because of restraint observed in traditional media.

Oman, a country of 3.3 million people on the tip of the Arabian peninsula, has one of the most closed media and political cultures in the Gulf region, analysts say.

"We view this case as threatening freedom of expression in the country and we think it is not in the interest of the state's development efforts," said Said al-Hashemi, a member of the Omani Writers Association which has provided legal aid for Zuwaidy, a writer and civil aviation administrator.

"There is corruption in some institutions. If we don't have the right to criticize then there is a problem," Hashemi said, adding that three journalists were detained briefly last year over reports they published in Omani papers.

Ministry of Information officials declined to comment when contacted by telephone. Continued...

Like the last bit. So classically oxymoronic...


  1. "corruption in some institutions"...only some? PDO contracts should be looked at!

  2. Three simple facts:
    1) Oman does not have a monopoly on corruption. It rears its ugly head everywhere, so there is no reason to go all ape-shit when someone says there is 'some corruption' here.
    2) We all like Oman. When we point out the corruption, we are not trying to tear down the system, but trying to make it better.
    3) The surest way to ensure the success of a cause, or even a religion, is to persecute it. Persecution draws attention to it and makes it stronger.

  3. Yes Abdullah, other countries have corruption, Russia, USA etc but we are addressing the country we live and work in and because the internet is restricted here, even just to make cheap calls we have to discuss it.

    It does not help or make progress that Omani's get irritated when critical points are made. We are drawing attention to a simple fact that there is corruption here in many forms. I have stated the same in Thailand where the police took a RSI to give a safety certificate to a private dwelling that was used as a nightclub hosting over 1000 revelers and many died! It's a pity no one listened before!

    loads of Wasta driving licences and PDO permits - a serious contributing factor to the unnecessary high road deaths that are caused by over 90% of Omani's - FACT!

  4. Apart from the main issue of having a fellow-writer in trouble; the randomness factor here is quite troubling indeed.
    Being the ex-owner of an ex-blog that was blocked by Omanthell, when that happened, I did plan to shit my pants, but then nothing ever followed it up. (P.S. It was not an automated block based on content; to block it, someone 'read' it!). There are numerous forums and numerous posts that get away with what al-Zuwaidy did, they are stills scot free.

    It is a perverse requirement, but when the whole setup is person-oriented, rather than process oriented, this happens. And that is what causes low-rankings for our beloved land. When the Saudis arrest meaninglessly, atleast they do it consistently!


  5. After re-going-through, this thing is complicated, well all such things are, where laws are open to interpretation.

    Wish Ali the best of luck.



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