Public reaction to ACPRA trial

The morning of March 9th turned dark for many Saudis when the judge in Mohammed F. Al Qahtani and Abdullah Al Hamid’s trial ruled that they be sentenced for about ten years each and be banned from travelling for years after they are released. All this because they were active in the Arabian Civil and Political Rights Association, ACPRA. Even though they have both started serving their sentences, there is still hope in the appeal. It is disheartening and frightening to be a citizen of a country where people can be legally charged and punished for talking to foreign press or starting a government independent human rights association. Background on the case can be read on Riyadh Bureau or in this CNN piece by Mohammed Jamjoom. Mohammed Al Qahtani’s interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour a couple of weeks back is also worth watching.

Here, I thought I would cover a bit on how the court’s ruling was received by influential Saudis online.
Essam Al Zamil, an economist and blogger, created an online poll to get a feel of how the public took the judge’s ruling. As of writing this post, about 10,000 have taken part and 85% state that the ruling was unjust.

Tawfeeq Al Saif, a political analyst and civil rights activist, tweets apparently addressing the government: Consider the course of events? Did former prison sentences result in killing hope for reforms? Have Saudis become more determined to reform or more afraid of you?

Hala Al Dosari, a writer and human rights activist, tweets that this trial sends a message to Saudis that a peaceful solution is unacceptable and punishable by law and that judges have the powers to go beyond regulations and that the judiciary is politicized.

Ahmed Baaboud, a fellow blogger, tweets that he will tell his daughter Jori about Abdullah Al Hamid; that he will tell her that Al Hamid sacrificed for her without knowing her, only so that she might have a better tomorrow, just so that the sun may shine some day.

Ahmed Adnan, a journalist and author, tweets he is against the judge’s ruling and doesn’t respect it, and also  against ACPRA and doesn’t respect them. (Presumably because ACPRA did not speak out on Kashgari’s case and they were slow to respond in Turki Al Hamad’s case, both of whom were arrested for writing what some consider blasphemous in Islam).

Mohammed Al Ajamie, a Twitter activist, tweets that he feels the frustration that the families of the political prisoners feel at the imprisonment of Al Hamid and Al-Qahtani because of how secure they felt with their presence after the elites abandoned these families.

Ibraheem Al Modamigh, an attorney, tweets that today’s ruling leaves no room for doubt that the judiciary is politicized and is not independent and that any neutral careful reading of the ruling will reach this disappointing and unfortunate result.

Fouad Al Farhan, a human rights activist and blogger, tweets that the judge’s decision to dissolve ACPRA and confiscate their property is an invitation to the public to work in secret and shows that they hate clarity, openness and peaceful public action.

Abdulla Al Maliki, a political activist eloquently tweets that glory, pride and history is for Al-Hamid and Al-Qahtani and that we now lost the shade of their roofs but the roof will always remain high as long as there are souls hungry for freedom and justice ..

Badr Al Jaafri, a lawyer, tweets that Rights .. freedom .. dignity .. justice .. are what ACPRA is made of and that these well-established values cannot be dissolved and confiscated even if some believe otherwise.

Dr. Salman Al Oudah, famous sheikh, tweets that imprisonments and sacrifices only ingrain ideas, draw people together, and make media substance for those near and far.

Fayed Al Olaiwi, a columnist and author, tweets that the secret to the rise of Malaysia is in Mahathir’s success in the abolition of the royal veto and lifting the immunity of the royal family and entourage and thus the judiciary became independent and eliminated corruption!

Mohammed Al Dugalaibi, a public relations specialist, tweets to whom it may concern to not let it occur to them, even for a moment, that the eagerness to arrest reformers and the feeble attempts to obscure facts will discourage the resolve of the free.

Dr. Kassab Al Otabi, a political activist, tweets that our generation is aware and they will remember these scenes of injustice and tyranny and systematic attempts at indoctrination but we will not kneel nor will we forget and forgive.

Ahmed Abu Dahman, a novelist and poet, tweets that a government that arrests its peaceful opponents will also arrest its supporters and its relatives; it will die alone. Qaddafi is an example.

Ibraheem Al Qahtani, a blogger and comedian, wonders that now that Al Hamid and Al Qahtani have been imprisoned, will development in the country suddenly grow a six pack. (This is in reference to one of the charges against them that they obstructed development).

Sultan Al Fifi, an activist, tweets how much of the country’s resources have Al Hamid and Al Qahtani stolen, how much land have they fenced up, how many corrupt arms deals have they dealt? What have they done to deserve such a ruling?

Abdullah Al Alami, an author, columnist and economist, tweets that we must all know the truth that if these rulings were in a poverty stricken country we would have seen Mr. John Kerry on TV denouncing that country’s human rights violations.

Saeed Al Wahabi, an author, tweets that it would be to the government’s benefit that they confront open and public civil associations in the light of day rather than resorting to dark tactics and wonders if they’ve forgotten the years of terrorism.

12 Comments

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12 responses to “Public reaction to ACPRA trial

  1. Reblogged this on Al-Must'arib (a vocational Mossarab's notes) and commented:
    Prosecution, attempts to censor those who ask for simple human rights and control them, can be only a temporary delay, eventually more useful for the cause of human rights than negative… freedom, like water, finds its own ways. It’s just a matter of time.

  2. From one end of Western Civilization to the other, this game of “One Hand Washing the Other” must end !

    Support a Socialist Islamic Republic of Arabia !
    Support a Coalition of Socialist Arab States !

    Support the Arab Winter !

  3. The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword
    The Saudi autocratic ruling royals and their draconian religious judicial system continue to prove that they are incapable of governing peacefully. Their severe and lengthy sentencing of two prominent democracy promoters and human rights activists Mohammed Fahd al-Qahtani and Abdullah Hamad on March 9, 2013 is indicative of the system’s anti-peaceful political reforms and social justice nature. Instead of responding to their repressed citizens’ demands for emancipation from political and religious totalitarianism, the Saudi ruling elites continue to silence the voices of reason.

    At a time when most Arabs are revolting against draconian ruling methods and practices of repressive and corrupt regimes, the Saudi monarchy is strengthening its grip on power. As exemplified by the system’s unnecessary, unjustified and punishing sentencing of Al-Qahtani and Hamad, two enlightened patriot founding members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, the system is determined to continue a policy that will force the population to resort to violence to obtain their political rights which is shaping up.

    In recent years, the Saudi people are becoming increasingly bold in challenging the Saudi royals’ heavy-handedness, corruption and legitimacy. Examples of people’s demands and defiance are taking place all over the country. Religious minorities in the oil rich eastern Saudi Arabia are demonstrating against their government’s discriminatory policies toward them and in the process some of them get killed by the State’s ruthless security apparatus. Families and supporters of prisoners, including women and children, are demonstrating in Central Saudi Arabia, the bastion of the Saudi regime’s and its religious establishment’s power-base. Instead of trying or releasing their loved ones, the ubiquitous system’s security personnel collected them and threw them in prison because all forms of peaceful expressions are banned in the Saudi Kingdom.

    Female college students in Asir, the lush Southern Region, are demonstrating violently against the government’s corruption, neglect and abuses by the educational system and its discriminatory policies against women.

    The monarchy’s responses to people’s legitimate demands consist of violence, handouts and window dressing steps which most Saudi males and females don’t take seriously or hold high hopes that things will change peacefully. Instead of living in an incredible and indecipherable denial, the Saudi rulers, especially their educated men and women offspring, ought to look across their borders and see that it’s only a matter of time before their people resort to the only option available to other Arabs, violence.

    • D. Stevens

      Thank you, as ever, for a view on what is taking place in S.A.
      I would hope there was enough wisdom on all sides that the country could move forward, peacefully. The trial results, especially in their extremity, suggests otherwise.
      I wish that i were optimistic.
      Too little, too late, is often the story when it comes to change, with the moderates being crushed between immovable authority and crescendo’s of resentment.
      May S.A find it’s way peacefully.

  4. it is time that the saudi arabian hierachy took a look at their people and show more understanding and tolerance

  5. Matt D.

    Thank you very much for providing insight into the Saudi reaction to this miscarriage of justice. My sympathies go to these victims and their families.

  6. sahar

    does anybody know how many wives our great king has?

  7. Pingback: Saudi Human Rights Record Comes Under New Scrutiny - NYTimes.com

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  10. interesting story and insights – hope things will change for the better as women across the globe deserve a better chance. We certainly feel their pain and frustration in this region from the kind of help they seek through our facebook page – it is so unfortunate how they cling to horoscopes to know what the future hides, and for that matter we are always careful as what to advice as human beings first, stressing on the fact that horoscopes are only for entertainment – we’re trying hard to let women rely on themselves, and do something instead of sitting back and read about what the future brings – deep down they know it but they lack encouragement and self confidence.

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