Following the overthrow of Tunisian and Egyptian presidents, an anonymous call for a “Day of Rage” in Saudi Arabia on March 11, 2011, was spread. In response, the government deployed heavy police forces in all major cities to ensure that any protest remains virtual.
Khaled Al-Johani, a 40-something-year-old teacher, was the only video-taped protester on that day (Amnesty International reports that at least four other protesters were arrested on that day for their ‘intention’ to protest). Al-Johani spoke to a group of journalists who were brought by a Ministry of Culture and Information bus to the place where the protest was planned to happen. He was arrested on the same day of interview when he returned to his house and continues to be held.
According to @whereiskhaled, he is currently being tried in the Specialized Criminal Court in Jeddah. The account also reported that he has boycotted phone calls to protest psychosocial torture.
@SaudiDetainees, a Twitter account dedicated for campaigning for Saudis detained arbitrarily, started an online campaign on Monday to support Al-Johani on the hashtag #khalidj.
The campaign received very notable attention. Below are some tweets from the hashtag.
Saudi 1,200,000-plus-follower cleric, Salman al-Odah, tweeted [ar]:
:أسأل الله تفريجه للشاب خالد الجهني وأن تفرح به زوجته وأطفاله عاجلاً غير آجل.. يصوم معهم ويعيّد ويسافر…شيء مؤلم حقاً.#khalidj
: I pray for the young man Khaled al-Johani to be released, for his wife and children to be happy soon, and for Khaled to fast [during the holy month of Ramadan], celebrate Eid and travel with them. It is really tragic.
Dr Madawi Al-Rasheed, a professor of anthropology of religion and well-known critic of the Saudi regime, writes [ar]:
: Khaled, you were free and alone, and in prison, you are still free and they are the ones imprisoned.
Saudi prominent Islamist reformist Abdullah al-Hamid said [ar]:
: خالد الجهني فارس كشف أستار الاستبداد بموقف واحد/مظاهرة شخص واحد تعلم الناس أن الفرد بالعمل السلمي أقوى من كتيبة ولكن #Khalidj
: Khaled Al-Johani is a knight that exposed the hidden repression with one stand. A one-person protest teaches people that peaceful activism is more powerful than a military force […]
Women2Drive famous figure, Manal al-Sharif, tweeted:
: #Khalidj في ذكرى معتقل الرأي خالد الجهني الذي خرج وحيداً في يوم ١١ مارس ٢٠١١ ليقول أريد حقوقي. مازال خالد خلف القضبان بلا محاكمة
[…] Prisoner of conscience Khaled al-Johani stood alone on March 11, 2011, to say that he wants his rights. Khaled is still behind bars without trial.
And Saudi Twitter user Haytham al-Tayib noted:
: ما يميز قضة خالد الجهني عن غيرها أن ”جريمته“ تمت على الهواء مباشرة،، لا حاجة لأن تشرحوا لنا ما حصل.. رأينا وسمعنا وحكمنا،، #khalidj
: What is different about Khaled's story is that his “crime” was committed on air. You don't have to explain to us what happened. We saw, heard and judged.