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Saudi Arabia: Freedom for Fouad Al Farhan

Saudi blogger Fouad Al Farhan is now a free man, after spending 137 days in detention in Jeddah. While bloggers have all along speculated why he has been held by the authorities for this long, Arab bloggers are unanimously excited over his release. And they also share their hopes for the release of other jailed bloggers.

According to Global Voices Advocacy, Al Farhan was arrested on 10 December 2007 for unspecified “violation of non-security regulations.”

Saudi Arabia:

For Saudi Jeans, Al Farhan's release was a good way to start his day. He writes:

I woke up around 5:30 this morning on the beeping of my iPhone which received a short message from the wife of my friend and fellow blogger Fouad al-Farhan telling me that Fouad has been released and that he is back home with his family now. That’s great news and this is just how I wanted to start my morning!

Al Farhan's fellow blogger, Mashi 97 (Ar), from Saudi Arabia, received more than 140 congratulatory comments when he made this announcement:

قبل دقائق قليلة فقط

رجع المدون السعودي فؤاد أحمد الفرحان لمنزله بعد خروجه من السجن .

الحمدلله الحمدلله الحمدلله

A few minutes ago only
Saudi blogger Fouad Ahmed Al Farhan has returned home after being released from prison.
Thank Allah, Thank Allah, Thank Allah.

Another Saudi blogger Ibrahim (Ar) wants an explanation to why Al Farhan was arrested. He writes:

في الأمس كنا فرحين بالإفراج عن فؤاد الفرحان
ولازلنا فرحين
ولكن سؤالي .. ماذا بعد الإفراج عن فؤاد؟
أربعة أشهر قضاها الأخ فؤاد في سجن أو توقيف ( مانختلف ) تحت الإستجواب
وكان السبب في كل هذا هو ” تهمة غير أمنيه” و ” إختراق لبعض اللوائح ”
وأستغرب من هذه الكلمات الفضفاضه
أنا كمدون أحب أن أعرف ماهي اللوائح التي تم اختراقها , ليتم تفاديها
أو ماهي التهم الغير أمنيه ليتم تفاديها أيضاً
هذا في حال أنها تستحق هذا المسمى (اختراق للوائح) فكلنا يجب أن يعرف ماهي اللوائح المخترقه

Yesterday were were happy for Fouad Al Farhan's release.
And we are still happy.
But my question is .. what after Fouad's release?
He spent four months in prison or custody (we won't differ on this), where he was interrogated.
The reason given was “a non-security related accusation” and “breaking some laws.”
I am surprised at those vague words.
As a blogger, I want to know what are the laws he has broken so that we don't commit them and what are the non-security related offences, so that we can overcome them. In case they deserve to be labelled as “breaking laws,” we all need to know what are the laws which have been broken.

Rasheed Abou-Alsamh too has questions in his head and writes:

Fouad was arrested in Jeddah on Dec. 10, 2007, and was held in a detention center for for more than four months because of the various entries on his blog that called for less corruption and more accountability in Saudi Arabia.

Will he continue blogging now that he has been released? That is a question that only Fouad can answer. I'm sure we will find out soon enough. For now, Fouad probably just wants to forget his ordeal and bond with is family.

Egypt:

From Egypt, Al Anany is also excited about Al Farhan's release and shares the following wish:

اليوم فرحة المدونين العرب وبالخصوص السعوديين منهم لا توصف بعد الإفراج اليوم عن المدون السعودي فؤاد الفرحان .. ومن هنا ، من سيناء نهنئ أنفسنا وكل من آزر فؤاد الفرحان بخروجه من السجن وعودته الي منزله ، ونتمنى من الله عز وجل أن يتم الإفراج عن كل المدونين العرب ، وعن مسعد أبو فجر ابن سيناء وصاحب مدونة ودنا نعيش

Today is a happy day for Arab bloggers, and in particular the Saudis, whose happiness cannot be measured after the release of Saudi blogger Fouad Al Farhan. From here, from Sinai, we congratulate ourselves and all those who stood by Fouad until his release from prison and his return home. We ask Allah for the release of all Arab bloggers, especially Musad Abu Fajr, the son of Sinai, who runs the blog, We Want to Live.

Still in Egypt, Zeinobia awaits the news of the release of another blogger – this time in Syria. She writes:

Congratulations for Fouad and his family.
Hopefully all the other bloggers detained in the Arab world will be free soon and return to other families especially Tarek from Syria.

Bahrain:

Bahraini blogger Mahmood Al Yousif is still scratching his head. He writes:

We don’t know the details of his release and what he had to give up or sign for the authorities to finally let him go, I suspect we will hear his stories quite soon – I hope.
In any case, I am very happy indeed for his release.
Welcome home Fouad!

Bahraini Esra'a wonders if Al Farhan will continue blogging after his release. She writes:

We are really happy to see him safe and free, however I wonder if he will continue blogging after what had happened. Let’s hope that he will never endure what he has gone through these past few months.

Sudan:

The Sudanese Thinker makes the following announcement:

Saudi blogger Fuad alFarhan has finally been released after spending 137 days in jail for simply speaking his mind politely and eloquently. Meanwhile, the Saudi government has no problem whatsoever allowing the shouts and rants of many preachers of death.

Lovely!

Meanwhile, The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (Ar) demands the lifting of the ban on Al Farhan's blog in Saudi Arabia. It says:

من الجيد التراجع عن استمرار اعتقال فؤاد الفرحان ، ولكن رغم سعادتنا بالإفراج عنه ، فنحن ننتظر أن تعلن الحكومة السعودية بوضوح أسباب اعتقاله ، ومن كان صاحب قرار اعتقاله ، و أن يرفع الحجب عن مدونته فورا”.

It is good that Fouad Al Farhan is no longer arrested, but despite our happiness with his release, we are waiting for the Saudi government to announce clearly why he was arrested and who ordered his arrest. We also call for the immediate lift of the ban on his blog.

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