The leading blogger, who is among the first in the country to have a blog carrying his real name, was earlier this year harassed by authorities and forced to stop blogging. Bloggers from across the region continue to rally for his freedom or at least understand the charges being leveled against him. It is understood that Al Farhan is being detained for his blog-related activism.
Rasheed Abou-Alsamh, a Saudi-American blogger and journalist, who is also based in Jeddah, speculates about why Al Farhan may be in prison and calls more reforms in the Kingdom. He explains:
The latest arrest comes after he visited one of nine Saudi reformists who were arrested on Feb. 10, 2007, and are still being held at a secret police detention facility in north Jeddah after refusing to sign undertakings that they would cease their calls for political reform. Fuad wrote about his visit on his blog.
I just hope that Fuad will be released soon and allowed to blog again. The wave of greater accountability, more transparency and allowing the citizenry of Saudi Arabia a higher voice in how our country is run is the ongoing legacy of King Abdullah's reformist agenda. I hope that this will be allowed to continue. Arresting reformists and bloggers does not help the cause of reform in the Kingdom, and just serves to bring us back to those dreaded old days when everyone was too afraid to say in public what they really felt. I and many other Saudis like me had thought that those days were long gone. I hope we're right.
Fellow blogger Saudi Jeans also hopes Al Farhan would be released soon. He notes:
I hope that Fouad would be released soon to come back to his family and friends. This country needs more people like him, people who love their country and want to see it thrive and advance.
From Bahrain, Mahmood Al Yousif tells Al Farhan he is not alone, assuring him of support. He writes:
If the reason for his arrest is due to his writing, then this is obviously a gross violation of an individual’s basic human right to freedom of expression. I call on the Saudi authorities to respect their role in the world and immediately release Fouad Al-Farhan and call on them to guarantee his safety throughout his detention.
Hang in there Fouad, you have a lot of friends with you. I applaud your determination to speak your mind for the better of our community.
Many Egyptian bloggers also called for Al Farhan‘s release. Among them was blogger Bella, who laments the condition of Arabs, who speak their minds. She writes:
في بلادنا القلم حيازته تهمة تستوجب الزج في غياهب السجون
في بلادنا اللصوص مكرمون
في بلادنا الفاسدون يرتعون
في بلادنا تجار الارزاق هانئون
في بلادنا الراقصات يُحتفى بهم أينما حلوا وحيثما ارتحلوا
في بلادنا المجد للممثلين ولاعبي كرة القدم
في بلادنا يموت العلماء ولا يجدون من يتحدث عنهم
في بلادنا من يقول الحق يصبح طريد العدالة
هكذا تكافئ بلادنا من يعبر عن رأيه
وترتعد الأنظمة امام الكلمات فلاتجد سبيلاً إلا سجنها في الحلوق
أصبح التدوين تهمة تستوجب الإعتقال
والتعبير عن الراي يجب التصدي له بكتم هذا الراي
والقلم ينبغي قصفه وسحق من يُمسك به
هذا ماحدث مع المدون السعودي فؤاد الفرحان
In our country, possessing a pen is a crime which deserves imprisonment,
In our country, thieves are honoured,
In our country, corrupt people are prospering,
In our country, drug lords are happy,
In our country, belly dancers are honoured were ever they go,
In our country, glory is for actors and football players,
In our country, scientists die and no one speaks about them,
In our country, whoever says the truth is pursed by the judiciary system,
This is how our country rewards those who express their opinion,
Regimes are threatened by words and don't have a way around that except through suppressing words in throats.
Blogging has become a crime which warrants arrest
And expressing opinions should be overcome by muzzling such views.
Pens should be smashed and those holding them should be destroyed.
This is what happened to Saudi blogger Fouad Al Farhan.
A blog has also been set up by activists to rally for his support here.