Just wanted to write a line or two about Fouad al-Farhan, the Saudi blogger who was arrested by Saudi authorities on December 10th of 2007. I hadn’t heard of him before the news of his arrest percolated to my attention.
Here’s a short article about him and his significance.
Fouad Al-Farhan is one of the pioneer Saudi bloggers. He was born in 1975 in Taif, west of Saudi Arabia, and received his higher education in the United States. He graduated from Eastern Washington University with a degree in marketing, then joined Ball State University for a masters degree in computer sciences. “Although Bush and his gang have been trying to remove all my good memories from my life in America, but I still think that I have lived the best years of my life there, moving between different states such as Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, and Indiana,” he told me during an interview via email.
He seems to have a strong dislike of Bush, which doesn’t surprise or dismay me, but what appears to be his dislike of women does give me pause. This quote is from a different post on Global Voices Online:
The Saudi blogger Fouad Al-Farhan was invited to one of these meetings at the house of the prominent Saudi scholar Dr. Osama Angawi in Jeddah. His main motivation to attend the meeting was what he found on the internet about the special bond between Hughes and Bush, and because “it is rare to get the chance to meet someone who is close to the most human being I hate on earth,” he said.
Al-Farhan was surprised by the large number of guests, but he did not care because he went there to deliver his message. However, he could not stand the existence of many Saudi liberals and Saudi women, so he left the meeting before it was even started. “I felt that those people cannot represent the Saudi society,” he said.
He couldn’t stand the existence [he probably meant presence, same word in Arabic] of many Saudi women?! I’d like to know what the explanation is for that statement.
Back to the first article I linked to:
Bloggers can be so different from each other, but most of them have one thing in common: they want to express themselves. Al-Farhan is no exception. “I want to express my freedom, ideas, and hopes, publicly and in a way that is unusual in the Saudi society. I think blogging is the best tool to do that now,” he says. Other reasons which encouraged him to start his blog are the limitations on freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia. “The television stations are completely owned by the government. The newspapers are highly censored, and some of their chief editors have been in their positions for more than 30 years. This is why you find our media boring and primitive,” he added.
What kind of effect can blogs have on traditional journalism in Saudi Arabia? “I don’t think that blogs can compete with media on reporting news, but they would probably thrive on the side of analyzing news,” Al-Farhan wrote. He believes that Saudi newspapers have almost no credibility. “If you have become a well-known blogger, then you can have more credibility than a whole newspaper,” he added.