Saudi Bloggers React to the Arrest of a Writer

According to several Saudi blogs and forums, the Saudi authorities have arrested the Islamic intellectual Dr. Mohsen Al-Awaji after he published an article on the web, in which he criticized Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, the minister of labor. In his article, Al-Awaji accused Al-Gosaibi of leading a group that tries to change the identity of the Saudi society. Al-Awaji also attacked Al-Gosaibi for writing the preface of the controversial novel Banat Al-Riyadh.

The government did not release any statement regarding this arrest, but one of the notable things that followed the arrest was the blocking of some websites that published the article. The recently blocked websites include Al-Wasatia forums, owned by Al-Awaji himself, Al-Wifaq electronic newspaper, and the infamous Al-Sahat forums.

The local press did not report this story at all, but some Saudi bloggers have written about it. Fouad Al-Farhan says he was really disturbed (Arabic) when he heard the news of arresting Al-Awaji, as well as the blocking of the websites. “I have disagreed with Dr. Mohsen in several meetings and in this blog, but I don't agree on arresting any human being because of his opinions,” he said. Al-Farhan thinks Al-Gosaibi is a bad minister because he has not found any practical solutions for the unemployment crisis, add that what Dr. Mohsen said in his article is not just his opinion, but also the opinion of many people inside the government and the society. “So, do we all deserve to be arrested?” he asked.

On the other hand, Riyadhawi thinks that Al-Gosaibi is a devoted minister (Arabic). “There is a difference between freedom of expression and personal attack. Apparently Dr. Al-Awaji did not see this difference, and committed the latter under the name of the former, but he did not expect that it would develop into this,” he wrote.


  • […] Mohsen Al-Awaji was freed after 11 days of detention, and Aya thinks this action by the government is a tangible lesson for Saudis: “Don’t you dare to criticize the government because we are capable, at any time, of stripping you from your freedom and dignity.” Riyadhwai seemed happy about the release of Al-Awaji, but he disagreed with some opinions Al-Awaji spoke of during a talk show on a Kuwaiti TV channel before his detention. The topic discussed was women’s driving, and Al-Awaji has an opposing position on this matter. Riyadhawi thinks Al-Awaji has insulted the Saudi society (Arabic) when he described Saudi youth as “sexually hysteric,” and that he made a huge mistake by such generalization. […]

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