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Saudis Confirm Detaining Blogger

Hmm...why do I feel sure that Dick Cheney is sitting in his undisclosed bunker trying to figure out if he could make this work in this country? NYTim

Hmm...why do I feel sure that Dick Cheney is sitting in his undisclosed bunker trying to figure out if he could make this work in this country?

NYTimes (reg. req'd)

An outspoken Saudi blogger is being held for “purposes of interrogation,” the Saudi Interior Ministry confirmed on Tuesday.

Gen. Mansour al-Turki, an Interior Ministry spokesman reached by telephone, said that the blogger, Fouah al-Farhan, was “being questioned about specific violations of non-security laws.” Mr. Farhan’s blog, which discusses social issues, had become one of the most widely read in Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Farhan, a 32-year-old Jeddah resident, was arrested at his office on Dec. 10, local news sources reported. Two weeks before the arrest, Mr. Farhan wrote a letter to friends warning them that his detention was imminent.

“I was told that there is an official order from a high-ranking official in the Ministry of the Interior to investigate me,” read the letter, which is now posted in English and Arabic on Mr. Farhan’s blog.

Since his arrest, friends of Mr. Farhan have continued to blog on his behalf under a banner that reads “Free Fouad” and features his picture. The blog’s Web address is www.alfarhan.org.

“The issue that caused all of this is because I wrote about the political prisoners here in Saudi Arabia, and they think I’m running an online campaign promoting their issue,” the letter continued, noting that Mr. Farhan had been asked to sign a statement of apology.

“I’m not sure if I’m ready to do that,” Mr. Farhan wrote. “An apology for what? Apologizing because I said the government is a liar when they accused those guys to be supporting terrorism?”

Ahmad al-Omran, a fellow blogger and friend of Mr. Farhan’s, said that Mr. Farhan was the first Saudi blogger to be detained by state security. The arrest has created widespread anxiety among other Saudi bloggers and activists, he said.

I think it's important to note that many people justify their bigotry against Muslims by saying that they aren't hearing "peaceful Muslims" railing against terrorism done in their name. Farhan was just such a voice, so it's ironic that the Saudis are trying to silence him for not following their talking points.

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