Saturday, February 11, 2012

Another Omani blogger arrested & imprisoned as a reminder there is no free speech in Oman. Plus 123 Orion gig pics!

Postscript correction: It is reported that the blogger was not arrested, at least not for blogging, but may have been taken to Oman's Psychiatric Hospital instead for evaluation.

Oman continues its increasingly common habit of imprisoning journalists and bloggers. The latest victim is blogger Muawiya Al Rawahi, as reported last week by Global Voices On-line and also by the lovely Dhofari Gucci. He was interviewed earlier by Global Voices here.

Photo: Imprisoned Omani blogger Muawiya Alrawahi. Photo by Jillian C York (taken from Global Voices)

Al Rawahi's #1 crime was criticising His Majesty, and HM's response to the protests last year, in a recent post (now removed from his site, but available from the Google cache spiders here).

Now, Muawiya has always been pretty out-there, with often somewhat rambling posts (unfortunately for us English speakers mainly in Arabic) about his unhappiness, work problems, religious doubts, sex, corruption, wasta, alcohol, & the Omani Government. But his forthright writing about his thoughts and ideas are a breath of fresh air in Oman, a land where maintaining 'face' and civility are of prime import. Muawiya was never afraid to tell it how he saw it. And he wrote what looks to me (via google translate!) like some half-decent Arabic poetry. Lately he started to refer to himself as 'Sid' Rawahi.

He's posted critical comments before, but as we all know here in The Sultanate of Oman, explicit speech against Oman's system of Government and especially anything critical of His Majesty, are totally verboten. Especially following the protests last year.

Hence his arrest and imprisonment. He has not yet faced trial as far as I know, but in Oman there is no habeas corpus. And his post could obviously be considered potentially illegal under Omani Law (as is almost any critical posting that mentions the Government or HM, the law is so broad and draconian), so his detention would be found OK under Habeas Corpus even if Oman had such a legal principal.

The confirmation by the Omani Court of Appeal of the 5 month prison terms given to the journalists convicted of insulting the Justice Minister doesn't make it look good for someone convicted of similar offenses against HM Sultan Qaboos...

It's a pity US journalist Judith Miller, who was granted an unusual 4 hr interview with HM last month (you can read her post about it here), didn't seem to ask him about such practices. Afterall, it's no secret that Oman is not a democracy, but an autocratic Absolute Monarchy.

Instead she focused on the on-going situation with Iran and Syria. HM supposedly said he didn't think Iran was pursuing a nuke, which is something that's difficult to believe he actually thinks, but with tensions high HM is wisely trying his best to calm things down. More on that later.

This blog is a big believer in free speech. In fact, I think it's more important in a true democratic sense than the right to vote. And as Muawiya is quoted as saying:
"the issue we don’t discuss is the issue we won’t solve"

Here here. So best wishes to you Sid. I trust you are at least being well treated by the boys in ISS and that you'll be released soon. I'm hoping you'll just be given a good talking to and released with a warning.

In other news
The gig at Royal Flight by local rockers 123 Orion was a great success. The event was a sell-out and a good time was had by all, abbeted by the cheap drinks at Royal Flight. And they raised a tremendous RO.705 [~US$1800] for their charity cause - this year the Sindbad mobile library.

Photo: Psychedelic band 123 Orion rock the house.

Well done to all involved, including new support band Iznogoud, who I presume have a French connection.

Photo: Support band Iznogoud at the Royal Flight

Their annual Winter Warmer Bash would be well worth supporting on the strength of 'any excuse for a good party', but to also raise so much money for a good cause makes it extra terrific (& thanks for the pics Jon G!)

Photo: The crowd enjoying the buzz at 123 Orion's Winter Warmer. Wish I could have been there

US moving troops into Oman? Israel keeps threatening to attack Iranian Nuclear sites.
Why would HM give a rare interview right now, his first big chat to an American reporter since 1997?


There are reports by right-wing Israeli news site DEBKA of significant US Troop movements into Masirah Island over the past few weeks, along with defensive military preparations in Eastern Saudi.

...Tehran too is gearing up for conflict: The Iranian Guards Ground Forces chief Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour Saturday, Feb. 4 announced the start of a three-week exercise in southern Iran and the Strait of Hormuz under conditions of war. debkafile: The "exercise" is in fact an Iranian military buildup ahead of a possible American or Israel attack.

debkafile's military sources report a steady flow of many thousands of US troops for some weeks to two strategic islands within reach of Iran, Oman's Masirah just south of the Strait of Hormuz and Socotra, between Yemen and the Horn of Africa. (DEBKA-Net-Weekly 526 of Jan. 27 was the first world publication to reveal the massive concentration of American might on the two islands.)

This concentration was held by the White House as sufficiently urgent to relent on its refusal to admit the ousted Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Salah to America for medical treatment. He won permission in exchange for his consent to the Socotra military buildup.


Our military sources report that the Saudis this week wound up their own intensive preparations for war. Large forces are now deployed around Saudi oil fields, pipelines and export facilities in the eastern provinces opposite the Persian Gulf, backed by anti-missile Patriot PAC-3 batteries. American, British and French fighter-bombers have been landing at Saudi air bases to safeguard the capital, Riyadh.

So it seems HM's interview was aimed at helping to cool down the rhetoric on Iran. HM admitted he passed onto the Iranians US warnings of a robust response to any attempt to close the Straits of Hormuz.

... He disclosed that Oman, at America's "hint" for assistance, had recently conveyed to the highest levels of the Iranian government a warning about the adverse potential consequences of closing the Strait of Hormuz. How precisely that message was conveyed -- "we have our ways and means," he said -- he would not disclose. But he added that he believes the message was clearly received.

"No one will block the Strait of Hormuz," Qaboos asserted.

Well, certainly not for very long, not with 3 US aircraft carrier groups around.

With some of the largest reserves of natural gas in the world, if electricity is what the Iranians want, good old gas turbine-driven power stations would be the cheapest and fastest way to get electrical power. Nuclear is expensive, slow, antagonistic and dangerous, and doesn't make any sense if all you really want is electricity. Everything points to a secret nuke programme.

Fingers crossed there will be a peaceful resolution to this, but in my opinion Iran seems determined to not back down. And if there's military action, remember Oman's US bases will be a target for Iranian retaliation.

Lastly - An Appeal for assistance.
I'm trying to finish the long overdue Blue City Part 3, I really am, but I need some pics of what it looks like at Al Sawadi these days. So, any readers who happen to be passing the Blue City site, please take a few moments to drive by and email a few photos to me? Please state approximate date taken and what the picture is showing. And let me know if you want photo credit or not!


  1. Sheesh. Thanks for posting the link to Muawiya's post. What a mess.

  2. the law is very clear. and this alleged drunkard clearly violated it. can you say "attention whore"?

    1. This individual, Muawiyah Al Rawahi, is delusional. Most of what he writes is rubbish. Why do people jump into conclusion that he was "arrested" why have people not thought of other adventures he had in mind? Like going away to some place where he will be free to indulge in prohibited substances? What about him creating a scene in public space and ended up being taken to Ibn Sina? What about him hiding himself somewhere to attract attention?

      There are many weird things a mentally unstable/prohibited substance abuser could do.


    2. Any evidence for these accusitory comments Mti?

      All sounds like a storm in a tea cup. If you don't like his blog, don't read it.


  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. A 6th year at SQU once told me that Muawiya was an SQU student. A medicine student I think.. not sure. But he was kicked out because of drinking alcohol or another reason I can't remember. I think he mentioned in his blog that he was an SQU student. I think he once was sectioned in SQU hospital..

    Anyway that girl always calls him '6aa2ish' (Taa'ish = reckless, irresponsible). She says that he has to calm down a bit and think about what he says. I don't know what to say but of course I'm with freedom of speech! And I don't believe he's mentally ill as his too many haters say, even though I don't know why he had to insult Omani girls in that post..

    I really want to read more about his thoughts on atheism and why he became an atheist. Maybe I have to buy his recently published book........

  5. mimi we <3 you!! Bring your blog back, please!!!

  6. But Mti makes 1 good point - I don't have a whole heap of confirmation that he was arrested. It's "as reported".

    Anyone with some pics of our lad in the dungeon?

  7. He was an SQU student who was offered a job at the Diwan so he dropped out of college. He wasn't kicked out.

    He is indeed detained, and it appears he was visited by a friend yesterday who published a letter from prison on his own blog. The letter was erased by authorities early this morning a few hours after it was published.

  8. Regardless of what circumstances and the psychological l state of mauwiyah when he wrote on his blog, it gives you an idea of galactic difference in attitude to freedom of speech we have here in gulf and west. You can right “ *uck the president/prime minister “ in a western blog and nobody gives shit but come here and hell breaks loose when you criticizes or openly hate the high authority !!!
    Its sad state of affairs we are in, idealizing beyond human status of head of state is against basic principals of islam yet we have it as basic state law in a Muslim country !
    Our ruling class copy everything from the west but when it came to this they somehow stumble !
    If arab revolution isn’t going to teach them something , then lets hope petrodollars last for as long as they can because when oil well dries up they will come asking!

  9. Oh god
    Jail is not good at all
    I have to mange my temper


    that is important

    and do you know what is funny?

    to start your freedom in jail

    this is how you get that hit in the skull

    that life is much important

    with my friends
    writing my daily Hathawant

    and life is great

    sorry my london is not bit :)



    1. "But Mti makes 1 good point - I don't have a whole heap of confirmation that he was arrested. It's "as reported".

      Anyone with some pics of our lad in the dungeon?" Quote Unquote UD.

      Here is a deal. If someone/anyone provide authentic photographic proof of this man being arrested by law enforcement officers or him behind bars, I pledge to show proof of his prohibited substance abuse + medical proof like a psychiatrist
      report NOT through the web but by calling my number and I will wait for the person with all I pledged.


  10. Comment at Feb 14, 2012 12:56 PM was sent by Muawiya. Don't know if it's important but I thought I had to clarify that to those who don't speak Arabic.....

  11. Whether he writes rubbish or not and whether we (me and you) agree with what he says is not the issue. The real point is his right to say it!
    How many times have we heard wonderful country, modern Arabic State, progressive etc etc blah blah blah. The simple and transparent fact is it's a police state where freedom of expression, even within reason, is not tollerated. There are so many ears and eyes in every dark corner in Oman but as long as Omanis view it as better than other Arabic States I guess they're happy; all relative I suppose in their won little world!

  12. These guys are so nice generating a tribute event for the guy.

    1. "the real point is his right to say it!" Quote Unquote Devils Advocate.

      Freedom of speech [or freedom of expressing oneself in any mode] is enshrined in the basic law. In fact it is on of the tenets. Using it constructively is one thing, abusing it is another. There is always a line drawn not be crossed [it is something embeded in the Arabic culture not to trample on others dignity] in expressing oneself. The issue at hand is the delusional individual wrote posts that insulted others. Society just ignored him for what he is and for what he wrote.

      "Article (31) Freedom of the press, printing and publication is guaranteed in accordance with the conditions and circumstances defined by the Law. It is prohibited to print or publish material that leads to public discord, violates the security of the State or abuses a person’s dignity and his rights."

    2. "the real point is his right to say it!" Quote Unquote Devils Advocate.

      As I said above, NO one stopped him or others from doing so.


  13. Debate? As Usual. I did not even say 10% from what I dream to say. All of you now are Freedom of speech thinkers. Who is Free? No One

    Se keep Debating and don't write or say, just be a way of any crimes if your debate took any Omani mind to a better place.

    Debate, don't write that is what is Important.


    I wish i can storm in English like I do sometimes in Arabic ( The thing that took me there :) )

    I just want to say in this blog, the blogger that i can call a Mentor (If they spell it this way) blogging like he An omani, Even ( I think ) ISS are crazed because but he tests the lines and kept him self free, a smart blogger I followed for some time then hated ( Sorry that is the sick me)

    My friend Undercover dragon. Keep Blogging

    That is all what any one can do.

    as a blogger it is an honor to see my name in a post of one of my hero blogger.

    Stop kidding your self, you are not an expat, I believe that you are Omani even more than me.

    Keep Blogging

    Muawiyah Alrawahi

    One of your Fans

  14. Muawiyah,

    You are free to write here or anywhere else the rest 90% of what is in your mind. Free speech is encouraged here in our country as long as it is within the boundaries of the law (see Article 31 above) of the basic law. Nothing wrong in expressing oneself as it is deemed healthy and beneficial to society as a whole. It is also constructive to discuss and debate ideas rather than mudsling other individuals.

    It seems some past trauma is playing havoc with your emotion. As an older man, I advice, you take things easy by divorcing yourself from your past. It is hard but try harder. Take up some sports read some more books and rebuild your relationship with others that might be of help to you in the future. Lastly I would say steer away from bad company.

    Have a nice day!


  15. that is not me?

    If i can write like that I'll be happy

  16. أم تي آ .. لا أجيد لغتك لكنني أجيد لغتي
    أنت تنمط الأمر من منطلق عمودي بحت ..
    تفترض أن دائرة معلوماتية عليا تتولى التحكم في الدوائر الأخرى

    صدقني ما حدث لي؟ أفادني جدا كمدون . مدونتي قفزت زياراتها .. لماذا؟؟ بطل من ورق ..

    ما أعاني منه؟
    ليس الجنون والعته كما آمل ولكن جار التشخيص
    لدي اضطراب في النوم منذ الطفولة
    تركت الدواء
    تراكم الغضب
    في العادة لا ينفجر بهذا اللاوعي
    هذا المقال الوحيد الذي حتى هذه اللحظة لا أجد شجاعة كاملة لقراءته .. أقسم لك بحبي لأمي ..

    أنت لا تفهم؟

    أن يجعلني الناس بطل من ورق هذا دور مقيت وبذيء ولا أحبه

    وأن يجعلني الناس تابعا أو متبوعا هذا كذب وادعاء ..

    يا أخي العزيز أم آي تي

    هذي ما جامعة في شيء من الأماكن

    عموما ما هذا موضوعنا ..

    ما كنت أريد قولَه ..

    أقول لك 10% لأنني لم أجد إلا 1% مما يمكنني إيجاده .. مغيبون ومن هم مثلك يا صديقي هم السبب ..

    القصة بسيطة وصدقني كانت بسيطة
    لو لم يسجنوني لمرت الأمور بسلام

    انظر للأمر بعمق
    أنا حذفت المقال .. ماذا حدث؟ ضجة؟ انتشر أكثر؟ حسنا المقال فيه غلط على الدولة .. حسنا .. ولكن ماذا كان فيه؟ أية قضية أيضا؟
    قضية التحرش التي لا أتحدث لأقول لك أنا ضحية .. لا بالعكس أنا طبيعي ولو كنت شاذا كنت سأقول ذلك .. بالنسبة لي ذلك المقال هو مقال تافه يكتبه رجل سكران غاضب ..

    ما حدث أنني هذه المرة غضبت كثيراً .. وأن اضطراب النوم الذي أعاني منه زاد .. وكنت سلفا قد تركت الكحول نهائياً .. ولدي الكثير من الأسرار


    قلت أنا حر


    وأنا الآن حر

    يومان في السجن
    بدأت بتمزيق شرايين يدي اليسرى بالسوستة التي في أفرول السجن ..

    ابن سينا لسبب واحد
    أنني مريض هناك سلفا
    بالطبع لم أتمن أن يقوم أحمد أحمد بنشر تقريري الطبي

    أحمد أحمد اتضح أنه والدي
    لذلك القصة يا صديقي

    يومان في السجن

    محاولة انتحار بخلع القضيب المعدني وجرح اليد اليمني ولكن تدخل الأطباء وتم تقييدي

    قيدت مرتان لأسباب أخرى

    جاءني أحدهم
    وقال لي: طلبت لاب توب لتكتب اعتذار؟
    قلت له بلهفة: نعم
    قال لي: خذ ..

    كتبت مقالا ثم قال لي: لا تكتب شيئا إضافيا
    لم أستطع مقاومة الأمر،
    كتبت مقالة ثانية
    حذفها حسين فقط لأنني نشرته من لاب توبه الذي كان logged in

    المهم في اليوم التالي
    جاءني رجلا شرطة
    أخذاني إلي الادعاء العام
    أجروا تحقيقا آخر
    وقعت على أقوالي
    وأنهيت أقوالي بتعهد بعدم تكرار ذلك
    ثم وقعت على تعهد بعدم مخالفة القانون الإلكتروني
    وأن الادعاء العام تحفظ على الموضوع لعدة أسباب:
    1- اعترافي فورا بأنني صاحب المقال وتعديلاته
    2- تعاوني مع المحققين

    3- حدوي ما يشبه حالة انهيار عصبي أدت إلى محاولتي إلى إيذاء نفسي عدة مرات.
    4- أشياء حدثت في الخفاء ليتني أعلمها
    5- أنا مثلك أحاول الفهم

    لماذا دخلت؟ ولماذا خرجت

    أقسم لك برأس أمي
    لا أعرف

  17. صدقني الأمر أفادني كمدون .. إن كنت تعتقد أنني أبحث عن الشهرة .. لك أن تتخيل شهرة رجل أعلنَ على الملأ [ أنه تعرض للتحرش ] لم أقل اغتصبت؟ أو أن الجنس مورس بي عدة مرات فأصبحت شاذا .. واو .. هذا بحث عن الشهرة في المكان الصحيح ..

    صدقني لا أشعر بتجاهك بالكراهية، أشعر بالحزن .. أنا نفسي وصلت لحالة شككت فيها في كل شيء ودمرت كل شيء حولي .. لست وحدك ..
    لست وحدك الذي لا يعرف ما يدور
    لست وحدك الذي لديك أحلام منخذلة ..
    لست وحدك الذي لديك أسرار ..

    معاوية الرواحي؟

    Who cares

    بعد عشر سنوات الجيل الحالي سينظر إلى هذا التدوين الذي يوصف مجانيا [ بالريادية] [ كلعب عيال]


    يستغلون التقنية
    غرب يصنعها

    عموماً ما دامت هذه المدونة مصدر أخباري ، فدعني أكوني مصدراً لدراجون عن حالتي

    حسنا أقول عن نفسي أنا حاليا في مصر، جئت لإجراء فحوص بسبب الأرق الطويل، وخوفاً من ظهور شيء عضوي، جئت بسبب طلب والدي وإصرارِه على العلاج في عيادة طبيب جيد وهو يتكفل بمصاريف علاجي.

    حاليا منقطع عن العَمل وأبلغتهم أنني سأقوم بإرسال التقارير الطبية فور اكتمالِها ..

    أنتظر وصول التقارير واكتمال توصيات الأطباء في عُمان
    وأنا جئت إلى مصر عدة أيام
    فقط لأرتاح من الناس الذين هم مثلك

    لم يكن سهلا صديقي
    شخص يقول: أنادي بإعدامه في ميدان عام
    آخر يقول: دعوه هذا الخنيث ..

    قلت مراراً، لناس مثلك أنت يا صديقي المطمئن وراء حروفِك الزاهية، ورء اختلافك عن عُمانيين مثلك بسطاء ..

    ما فعلته يا صديقي في عالم التدوين العالم شيء طبيعي ..
    فقط نسيت للحظة
    أنني في عُمان

    نسيت في تلك الساعة
    ودفعت ثمنها

    240 ساعة

    لم تكن سهلة
    هل تعرف لماذا
    لأنني كائن خائف جبان
    قضيتي كانت بها سجن شهور
    وأنا أحاول الانتحار

    هو اكتئاب
    ونصيحتي إن كنت تعرف مريضا بالاكتئاب

    قل له لا تترك البروزاك
    واستعن على الحزن بالقرآن

    نادية إن أحببت ترجمي له هذا الكلام
    فمع أنني أكتبُ وأطيل وأطيل

    لا يزال البعض يضع الكلمات في فمي ثم يحاكمني عليها

    عموما يا أخي
    آخذ بكلمة المسيح

    أدير لك الخد الآخر

    ولكن لن أترك الصعفة لك
    أنا سأصفع نفسي وسأقول

    " أستحق ما أصابني "

    وأصفع خدي الآخر مرةً أخرى لكي أجعل صفعتك أكثر حمرة

    دمتَ يا سيد الرموز ..


  18. Calm down. Make sure you take your prescribed medications [that includes Prozac] and try to relax. Am not a medic but I have read many times the best way to beat insomnia is to relax and take things easy. Shut off all kinds of worries out of your mind and sleep slowly encroaches into your awake state and bingo you drift into serene sleep. That is my 2 cents.

    We are here for you. After all you are one our sons. A young man who requires guidance. All you got to do is avoid controversy and do whatever you do within framework of the law. No mudslinging no tarnishing of good names above all respect for yourself and others. Finally, if you wish and can, ask your father to email me so he and I can work on a forward program to achieve your complete rehabilitation.

    Have a nice day!

    1. Mti,
      This is a ludicrous statement:
      "[it is something embeded [sic] in the Arabic culture not to trample on others dignity] in expressing oneself."
      The Arabic culture does not consider the dignity of people as something to be cherished. The forms of islam (hence Arabic) being utilised as power wielding tools to force entire nations into submission for political purposes does not even resemble an ounce of humanity. If I ask any local Omani how they feel about their place in society, family / tribal allegiances / rich v poor / gender segregation etc, the ONLY response I get is "It's our culture." This is a cop out. This is the reasoning of people too frightened to stand up and change their place in society. Of course, there is the "Wise and generous benefactor" argument as well. Yeah - give people just enough to keep them coming back for more.

      How can anyone possibly have their "good name tarnished" if reporting and speaking out about injustice, inequality etc is not allowed because it may insult someone?

      To work within the framework of the law means "say nothing, do nothing, stick your head up your a#$e and, hope someone throws you a bone." Unless what you are saying is pure unabashed a"#e licking. That's not life - that's servitude.

      How long would the editor of ToO last if he produced ONE, just one well researched, evidence driven article about a particular ministry, or minister, or other self promoting so called "VIP?" Regardless of the evidence he would be cut off from his very privileged position, wouldn't he?

      Because he accused someone of doing something wrong. Even with proof.

      Why is it a big deal if I don't think islam is the true path? Or christianity? Or Hinduism? Or the church of Bart Simpson?

      What makes people so afraid of someone else's opinion? Surely you can respect my decision not to believe? Surely not believing doesn't make me incapable of being friendly, courteous, having a family etc etc. Why do I have to refrain from being myself in order not to offend someone? Why do I have choices in life made for me by people who don't know me, or don't have my best interest at heart?

      Why can't I say what I goddamned well like, about any topic I choose, at any time I want? Surely that's MY right as a human. Your right is to disagree with my opinion. As loudly as you want. Then we can agree to disagree, you'll get on with your life and I'll get on with mine.

  19. Insulting is not freedom of speech in any country. This is not just Oman. Go back to jail trouble makers protester anti government movements. i give you some advise change youre self before trying to change others.



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