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Saudi Blogger Fouad Al Farhan Arrested in Jeddah

Fouad Al Farhan

Saudi Arabia added yet another accolade to its freedom of speech record by arresting its first blogger. Fouad Al Farhan, considered by many as being the dean of Saudi bloggers for being among the first to blog in his country using his real name, has been arrested in Jeddah. No further news is available for the reasons for his detention.

The Arab Blogger's Observatory announced the arrest as follows:

اعتقل المدون السعودي فؤاد الفرحان يوم الثلاثاء 11-12-2007 ، بعد اقتحام مكتبه في مدينة جدة غرب المملكة العربية السعودية، واقتيد دون توضيح للأسباب أو المبررات التي أدت إلى اعتقاله.
يعد فؤاد الفرحان من أوائل المدونين السعوديين بأسمائهم الصريحة، وقد خصص مدونته لمناقشة قضايا المجتمع، والطرح الوطني الجريء، مترجماً من خلالها العنوان الذي وضعه لمدونته: (بحثاً عن الحرية، الكرامة، العدالة، المساواة، الشورى، وباقي القيم الإسلامية المفقودة.. لأجل رغد وخطاب).
تأخذ الجهات الرسمية على الفرحان مناصرته لـمن سموا بـ(العشرة)، وهم الأكادميين السعوديين العشرة الذين اعتقلوا في وقت سابق من هذا العام بتهمة تمويل الإرهاب، دون أن تثبت عليهم التهمة حتى الآن.
الجدير بالذكر، أن الفرحان سبق وأن ضيق عليه من قبل جهات رسمية غير معروفة، في بداية العام الجاري (فبراير 2007)، مما أدى به إلى إقفال مدونته، والتوقف عن التدوين حتى عاد مرة أخرى في يونيو من العام نفسه.
Saudi blogger Fouad Al Farhan was arrested on Tuesday December 11 after his office was forced into in Jeddah, located in Western Saudi Arabia. He was detained without an explanation or reasons for his arrest. Fouad Al Farhan is considered among the first Saudi bloggers to blog using their real names and his blog discusses social problems and tackle national issues frankly. This is reflected in the title of his blog which says: Searching for freedom, dignity, justice, equality, Shura and all the remaining Islamic values which are missing.. for Raghad and Khitab (his daughters). Authorities are holding Al Farhan's support for what is called as the 10 against him. They are 10 Saudi academicians who were arrested earlier this year and accused of financing terrorism – an allegation that is yet to be proved against them. It is noteworthy that Al Farhan was previously harassed by unknown authorities at the beginning of this year (February 2007). This led to him closing his blog only to return in June of the same year.

Meanwhile, Saudi bloggers were quick to react to the arrests. Mashi Sa7

في تطور خطير يخالف التوجه الحكومي نحو الإصلاح واعطاء مساحة أكبر للحريات ، ذكر مرصد المدونين بأن السلطات السعودية قامت بإعتقال المدون فؤاد أحمد الفرحان، وهو المدون المعروف بتوجهاته الإصلاحية السلمية وبتمسكه بالثوابت الوطنية وبرفضه المطلق لأي مبرر لإستخدام العنف.
فؤاد الفرحان عميد التدوين السعودي وهو اللقب الذي يحلو للمتابعين له تسميته به ، كان قد تعرض لمضايقات سابقة دعته للتوقف عن التدوين فترة ولكنه عاد مرة أخرى مبيناً لخمساً وعشرين سبباً دعاه للتدوين مرة أخرى .
حتى هذه اللحظة لم يتم التعرف على التهمة التي وجهت للمدون فؤاد الفرحان وتم على إثرها اعتقاله.
سنتواصل في سرد آخر الأخبار وحتى تلك اللحظة دعونا نقف جميعنا مع المدون فؤاد الفرحان من أجل حرية التدوين ومن أجل حقنا الإنساني في حرية التعبير
In a dangerous development which detracts from the government's vision towards reform and allowing more freedom, the Blogger's Observatory announced that Saudi authorities have arrested blogger Fouad Ahmed Al Farhan. He is a Saudi blogger who is renowned for his peaceful reform ideas and his adherence to national values as well as his complete refusal for any excuse to use violence. Fouad Al Farhan is the dean of Saudi bloggers and it is a title all those who folow his blog like to refer to him with. He was previously harassed and this led to him giving up blogging for a while. He then returned, citing 25 reasons which forced him to blog again. Until now, we don't know what accusations have been leveled against him and the reason for his arrest. We will continue following up on the case and until then let's all stand by blogger Fouad Al Farhan for the freedom of blogging and for our human right in freedom of speech.

Another blogger, Al Qaed (the leader) shares his thoughts on Al Farhan in this post. He writes:

يحار قلمي من أين يبدأ الكتابة ؟؟
هل يبدأ من اعتقال المدون القدير / فؤاد الفرحان ؟؟
أم يبدأ من البكاء على ضياع الحرية المفقودة التي سلبت منا ؟؟
فؤاد الفرحان ..
عميد التدوين السعودي ..
اعتقل قبل 12 يوم من مكتبه كما ذكر ذلك مرصد المدونين ؟؟
ما علمنا عن فؤاد إلا خيراً ..
ما علمنا عنه إلا أنه محب لوطنه , مدافعاً عنه بقلمه ولسانه ضد المفسدين الذين يريدون اختطافه منا ..
هل يعاقب المواطن الصالح على محاربة الفساد والمفسدين ؟؟؟؟
من الذي اختطفك يا فؤاد ؟؟
من الذي له المصلحة في تكميم الأفواه التي تطالب بحرية التعبير ؟؟
My pen doesn't know where to start writing??
Does it start with the arrest of competent blogger Fouad Al Farhan??
Or by crying over the loss of the unknown freedom which has now been snatched away from us??
Fouad Al Farhan..
The dean of Saudi blogging..
Was arrested 12 days ago from his office as the Blogger's Observatory reported.
We have not seen except good from Fouad.
We have known that he loved his country, championing for it with his tongue and pen against the wrong doers who want to kidnap him from us..
Should the good citizen be punished for fighting against corrupt people and corruption?
Who has kidnapped you Fouad??
Whose benefit is it to muzzle voices calling for freedom of expression??

Al Farhan blogs in Arabic here. Global Voices Online had previously conducted an interview with him here.

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