Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Saudi blogger Dr. Mohsen Al-Awaji arrested march 10, freed march 21st

The great attraction of blogging is reading blogs that could get the bloggers into trouble. Not because it is something that could get them in trouble. But because reading their materials, any blogger that's worth its salt can appreciate their courage in speaking up/out.

As I lived in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a few years post-Gulf war, I am still amazed how some Saudi bloggers can write some of their critique and still live another day to write about something else. Some post using only their first name, some are a bit more open. And it's not necessarily critique but frustration that leads them to write and receive plenty of commentary. Apparently, some people believe that blogs should come with the comment feature off, whereas others believe that the comments is what makes it interesting. When reading the commentaries by fellow compatriots, the frustrated Saudi blogger sometimes receives understanding and sometimes criticism for being too critical or 'unislamic'. What it is, is, a great way to engage in discussions without fear of repercussion in a society where one needs to be careful whom to share your frustration and criticisms with.

Dr. Mohsen Al-Awaji was arrested before during the 1990s, but got pardoned four years after his arrest. Now, with the advent and popularity of blogging, discontent has found a greater reach. He wrote an article on his blog in which he criticized a minister of labour and accused him of
leading a group that tries to change the identity of the Saudi society.

Even though his arrest was not openly publicized, his article got removed from certain sites. And as secretively, he was freed on March 21.

Dr. Al-Awaji was fortunate; many 'cyberdissidents' remain in custody and for those of you who are looking into blogging in an undemocratic country, check out the Handbook for bloggers and cyber dissidents. The internet might make you feel anonymous, but as some of us in the West even realize, Big Brother will always (try to) watch you. Be careful.


Anonymous Ibn said...

Funny you mention it,

Just the other day I was thinking of the best technical way in which one could blog on a site while remaining totally anonymous. I came up with some combination of a satellite link-up, coupled with your own version of encryption.

In fact, you dont even need the sat-link. If a country has access to the internet, I think its possible to have a totally secure and covert method of blogging: First you write your latest blog story. Put it through an encoding algorithm that makes it look innocent. (an email about wild animals). Then its sent off to some email, or server, out of country. At target computer the email is decoded and posted on a site.


Its basically the equivalent of say, encoding your blog-input into an email, send it to a friend out of country, and have then decode it and then post it themselves. Only I am replacing the "friend" with some algorithm that a computer could run.

Just thinking out loud here.. :D


9:46 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

you should together with my husband. You both could cook up some 'devious' way to go undetected. I've gone through my blogging for dummies book and just emailing from your cell phone is an option these days, gee. Mind you, I think in a lot of countries that are oppressed, I cannot imagine too much technology being available, at least not in say, African ones.

Plus, are you studying that kind of stuff? encoding algorithm...lucky you for even being able to know those words, I'd be lost myself! Ha,

better start of my day, ciao Ibn.

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Ibn said...

Ill tell you what though,

Its a good thing blogs came about -they definately put my ideas of dropping monthly quartets in the form of leaflets out a confiscated plane based in the middle of the desert to rest. :)


2:19 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Hmmm, that rich huh? lol

yes, technology does have a way to improve the quality of life..

5:57 PM  

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