Saudi Twitter users have joined forces to highlight the plight of a political prisoner Shaikh Yusuf Al-Ahmad on the micro-blogging site. Their effort has made the Islamic scholar's name become a worldwide trend, raising awareness about his imprisonment without charges and access to a fair trial.
Essam Al Zamil quips [Ar]:
@essamz: God is great! Shaikh Yousif Al-Ahmad's name is trending worldwide
Foreign Policy editor Blake Hounshell shares a similar observation, which is acknowledged by Saudi blogger Ahmed Al Omran:
According to Human Rights Watch, Al-Ahmad was arrested for his comments on a video he posted on YouTube, on July 7, 2011, criticising the long-term detention of security suspects without charge or trial.
Ironically, Saudi authorities have not announced any charges against Al-Ahmad, who was jailed eight months ago and who had taught at Imam Muhammad bin Sa'ud University in Riyadh.
The campaign is being spearheaded by @SaudiDetainees, following the success of their first Twitter campaign to draw attention to another political prisoner – 34-yrear-old Mohammed Albajady, who has been behind bars for almost a year, also without charges or access to a fair trial.
Al Zamil writes:
@essamz: He said NO in the face of Injustice. We say YES for his freedom #justice4YA
Khaled Al Naser adds [ar]:
And renowed Saudi blogger Fuad Al Farhan, who was himself arrested for writing on his blog, lends his voice to the campaign. He writes:
@alfarhan: Freedom for Shaikh Yusuf Al-Ahmad.. It is time for this chapter of arrests and imprisonment to be closed for good and for us as a nation and government to put it behind our backs and move on
Al-Ahmad also maintains a Twitter account here – @yusufalahmed. The account is now managed by a supporter, who tweets updates on Al-Ahmad, his imprisonment conditions and how his elderly mother, who is sick with cancer, is faring.
Reporters without Borders lists Saudi Arabia as an Enemy of the Internet in its 2012 list of countries that censor the Internet and stifle free speech. It is only a matter of time before we find out how long the outspokenness of Saudi netizens online will continue for.