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Kuwait: Jailed Blogger Released

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Kuwait, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Labor, Law

Following a local and regional outcry [1], jailed Kuwaiti blogger Bashar Al-Sayegh was released in Kuwait earlier today. While some bloggers celebrated the release, others warned that it could be a signal of more restrictions which could curtail freedom of speech in Kuwait. Another blogger expresses his disgust with men in uniform who break the law and posts videos of policemen physically assaulting Asian workers in the oil-rich country.

Al-Sayegh was arrested following a comment made by an anonymous commentator, insulting the Kuwaiti head of state Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah [2] on an online forum [3] (Ar) he operates.

Jassim Al-Qames
, who is Al Sayegh's colleague and a photographer in newspaper, Al Jarida, was also detained with Al-Sayegh for taking pictures of his arrest. He was later released but alleges to having been roughed up by the arresting officers.

News of Al-Sayegh's release and the arrest of the person who originally made the comments spread on blogs as soon as the blogger was set free.

Kuwaiti blogger Bashar Al-Sayegh being carried by supporters after his release [4]

Kuwaiti online newsite Al Aan [5] carried the above picture, which shows supporters carrying Al-Sayegh on their shoulders.

Writing on his forum [6], Al-Sayegh pledges to continue blogging (Ar):

لا أعلم من أين ابدأ ..
شكرا؟؟ دين في رقبتي؟

لا أعلم .. موقفكم ..
لا توجد كلمة .. او مجموعة حروف ..
تعبر عن مشاعري تجاهكم ..

لن أنسى موقفكم .. فهذا دين في رقبتي ..
ولن استطيع رد الدين سوى بالاستمرار ..
استمرار موقع الأمة ومنتدى الأمة ..
والاستمرار في نهجنا الذي بدأناه معا ..

شكرا لجميع المدونات والمواقع الالكترونية ..
والصحف اليومية التي تبنت القضية ..
شكرا لجمعيات النفع العام ..

I don't know where to start..
Thank you?? I am in debt to you forever?

I don't know.. but your stance..
There is no word .. or a group of letters..
Which can express my feelings towards you all..

I will never forget your stance besides me..I am indebted to you forever..
And I will never be able to repay this debt except by continuing..
Continuing with Al Ommah site and forum..
And continuing with the steps we took together..

Thanks to all the blogs and online sites..
And the daily newspapers which supported me..
Thanks to all the civil societies..

Kuwaiti blogger Jandeef isn't impressed [7] with the detention and argues that Kuwaiti police may not always respect the laws and constitution when it comes to handling people. He posts the following two videos which clearly show policemen in uniform, physically assaulting Asian workers in Kuwait.

Blurted by The Aggressor suggests [8] that Al Sayegh's arrest was meant to send a message to the blogging community in Kuwait.

(T)his may just as equally be a message from the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry to the Kuwaiti blogging community, informing us that the Ministry is keeping us in check, and is monitoring our comments and activities, both online and-quite possible-offline as well. If that's the case, then shouldn't they be able to differentiate between an administrator and an anonymous commenter? Seriously….c'mon, seriously!?

Kiwi Nomad
too shares similar feelings and notes [9]:

Hopefully the message is getting through that the State (In)Security Police need to toe the line and uphold the laws of the State… For Bashar and Jassem's sakes I hope the publicity of their experiences produces reform. It is worth noting that this is only one of many unpublicised cases. Bravo guys for standing up and not being intimated.

The Ultimate, however, takes another direction and dedicates a poem [10] to Al Sayegh.

The Grim Reaper is waiting
Scythe in hand
While the country is celebrating
Bashar is free

Who’s next
To pay the debts!
When will it be my turn!
When will it be yours!

It’s all just a matter of time
And time has mercy on no one

Will this nightmare ever
Be over
I wonder