Saudi Arabia: Human Rights Activists Asked to Shut Up on Twitter

Saudi Arabia's human rights activists, who have been pushing their cause on mico-blogging site, Twitter, have been asked to shut up.
Following the arrest of Dr Mohammed Alabdulkareem, Twitter's hashtag #FreeDrAlabdulkareem was trending with calls to free the scholar, who was detained after publishing an article on the effectiveness of the political regulation among the royal family. There, heated exchanges ensued between human rights advocates, government officials and netizens, in general.

The most intense exchange of tweets was between the Saudi Consultative (Shura) Council member Abdulrahman Alenad and Dr Alabdulkareem's lawyer Waleed Abulkhair.

The exchange started when Alenad accused Dr Alabdulkareem of being irresponsible to publish such an article and Abualkhair demanded the council member apologized for his impoliteness. The latter refused to do so, and asked Abulkhair to shut up in a very offensive language. He literally asked Abulkhair to ‘eat hay’ or Kol Tebin, which soon caught up with the Saudi tweetosphere, resulting in both angry and sarcastic tweets, and a dedicated hashtag #koltebin.


Waleed Abulkhair in known for his human rights advocacy. He defended many human rights cases such as Samar Badawi's case. Abdulrahman Alenad, on the other hand, and according to his Twitter bio, is a Professor of Mass Communications, and a member of both the Saudi Consultative Council and the Human Rights Association in Saudi Arabia.


On Twitter, reactions varied from the sarcastic to the angry.

Abdulrahman Alswaid tries to teach Alenad about effective criticism:

@aalenad النقد الهادف للاصلاح يا دكتور لا يعيش مع التعالي وسحق الاراء المخالفة وعدم العدل و الهبوط بلغة الحديث و امتطاء ظهرالوطنية #Koltebin
Effective criticism isn't fueled by superiority, crushing the voices of others, injustice, low language and claiming patriotism

Abdulaziz Alnuaim advices Alenad to back out:

@aalenad يارجل اعتذر عما بدر منك تجاه الجميع فالاعتذار من شيم الكبار اما الصغار هم فقط من يعجزون عن الاعتذار #Koltebin #FreeDrAlabdulkarim
Apologize for what you said. Apologizing is a virtue! It is only those who are too inferior who cannot bring themselves to apologise.

And Alathoub Abdulaziz thanks Alenad for his classy choice of words:

#Koltebin @aalenad المواطن السعودي متعود على أكل التبن .. بس لما تكون من عضو بمجلس الشورى لها طعم خاص .. شكراً لمعاليكم ..
The Saudi citizen is used to being cursed, but when the curse comes from a council member, it has a special flavor. Thank you, Your Highness!

In his blog, Ahmed Al Omran or Saudi Jeans was shocked:

I was momentarily startled by al-Enad’s choice of words and thought it was a slip of the tongue.

Rin, on Twitter, comments on how Saudis forgot the main cause behind the hashtag:

funny thing is #koltebin has more hashtag hits than #freedralabdulkarim .. ppl never fail to focus on trivial things and forget the cause

And Mishaal Alkhulaiwi explains the meaning of the curse phrase:

Eat Hay = kol tebin :P You people have nothing to do at all :D #koltebin

Omar Al Hajjaj explains why this curse is so special:

#koltebin عندما يكون التبن مقدم من شخصية اعتبارية فلا شك انه تبنا معتبر!!!
When the curse comes from such high position, then it must be a high positioned curse!

In his blog, Faayed Alelaiwee comments:

الأدهى والأمر أن العناد عضو جمعية حقوق الإنسان!!
أردناه يحمي حقوقنا فأكلنا تبنا

لكن لاتلوموه فهو ليس منتخب فليقل مايشاء!

What is worse than the curse is that Alenad is a member of the Human Rights Association!
We wanted him to protect our rights, so he cursed us!

Do not blame him, he was not elected, let him say whatever he wants!

Hadi Fugaihi from Someone blog writes a very angry post entitled: “Dear Saudi citizen, shut up!” [Ar]

What's Next?

Abualkhair wrote a piece addressed to Abdulaziz Kassim and published in his Google group, in which he expresses his disappointment in his country:

كم هو مجتمعنا قاسي .. كم هو مؤلم يا أبا أسامة ..

وإلى ذلك الحين سأتحمل من الدكتور العناد أمره لي بأن ( آكل تبن ) ومن التميمي
وصفه إياي بأني غوغائي ومن القاضي الرفيع تهديده بالانتقام .. ومن المسؤول
تحذيره إياي من دخولي السجن..

ومن والدتي الرؤوم الوجلة إلحاحها علي مراراً بأن لا أفجعها يوماً بخبر مسيء عني ..

ومن المجتمع الذي لا يرحم ينتظر متى ينهش عرض المدافع عن المظلومين فيه ..

How harsh it is to be a Saudi, my dear friend?!
Until the truth comes out, I will take Alenda's curses and all the officials warnings and threats.
I will also take my mother's warm-hearted continuous insisting that I don't shock her one day with sad news about me.
Finally, I will take everything from a community which has no mercy to those who defend the oppressed ones.

On the other hand, the council member insists on his position:

كل من يتطاول على الدولة والأسرة المالكة ويسيء للوطن يستحق ان يأكل تبن… هذا رأيي وأنا حر في التعبير عنه #FreeDrAlabdulkarim #Koltebin
Whoever talks about the country's regulations and laws or the royal family deserves to be cursed, this is my opinion and I'm free in expressing it!

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