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Oman: Blogger Muawiya Alrawahi Detained

Muawiya Alrawahi. Photo by Jillian C York

It has been reported on Twitter that outspoken Omani blogger Muawiya Alrawahi (interviewed by Global Voices here), known for his controversial ideas, has been detained because of a blog post and some tweets in which he criticised Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the ruler of Oman.

Twitter user Ammar Almamari (@omanammar) wrote on the morning of February 6:

@omanammar:المدون العماني معاوية الرواحي يمضي يومه الثاني في حجز القسم الخاص بشرطة عمان السلطانية على خلفية ما نشره مؤخرا #Oman #GCC #gulf #Omanspring
The Omani blogger Muawiya Alrawahi is spending his second day in the custody of the Special Division of the Royal Oman Police, against the backdrop of what he published recently

This is a reference to a long blog post from February 3 called “Covenant of Salvation” (which has since been deleted, but a cached copy is here [Ar]). In it Muawiya talked openly about a number of things, including suffering sexual abuse as a young teenager, his earlier involvement with Oman's Internal Security Service (ISS), his admiration for and connections to ex-ISS Brigadier-General Khamis Al Ghraibi (now imprisoned under charges of spying for the UAE), his lack of religious belief, his disillusionment with Oman, and his loss of faith in the ruler Sultan Qaboos.

Muawiya ended the post by saying:

لقد تحررت من كل شيء
أنا حرٌ الآن
I am liberated from everything
I am free now

Muawiya's tweets [Ar] were equally critical of Sultan Qaboos and the political situation in Oman, and in addition he called for the downfall of all Gulf rulers.

Blogger Ferass Alryami has written a post in solidarity with Muawiya:

لا أملك من السلطات سوى كلمات قد يقرؤها البعض و قد يتجاهلها الأخر ..لكنني هنا أود أرسل برسالة قصيرة جدا إلى صديقي معاوية من زنزانتي الكبرى إلى زنزانته الصغرى أو العكس :

” تدوينتك الآخيرة كانت عبارة عن كلمات خجولة، ربما هي لم تصل إلى من أردت تبليغهم إياها ، لكنها كلمات لا بد لها أن تخترق جدار الصمت فتفصح عن بعض ما عانيته يا معاوية ..
نعم نحن لا نتفق فكريا و سياسيا و صدمت كما صدم الآخرون لكنني واثق من براءة ما كتبته .”

I have no other powers than the words that some may read and some may ignore… But here I want to send a very short message to my friend Muawiya from my large cell to his small cell (or vice versa):

“The words in your last post were somewhat shy; maybe they didn't reach the people you wanted to send them to. But they are words that must break through the wall of silence to disclose some of what you have suffered, Muawiya.

It's true that we don't agree intellectually and politically, and I am shocked just as others are shocked, but I have confidence in the innocence of what you have written”

Others have argued [Ar] that Muawiya crossed too many lines, especially when talking about Islam.

Recently two Omani journalists were jailed for “insulting” the country's Minister of Justice by publishing allegations of corruption within the Ministry of Justice. Oman's recently amended penal code outlines punishment for those who undermine the “prestige of the state”, and an article in the press and publications law prohibits “disseminating all that would compromise state security, internal or external”.

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