Saudi Arabia Releases Blogger after Year in Solitary Confinement
Saudi Arabian authorities released a prominant blogger Saturday after spending more than a year in jail without charges. 35 year-old Nazir al-Majid was arrested last March joining anti-government protests in the mostly Shiite eastern province of Qatif. Rights activists last year launched an online campaign for al-Majid’s release after he went on a hunger strike to protest being kept in a solitary confinement.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemned the excessive force with which Saudi authorities have suppressed peaceful demonstrations in Qatif. Security forces fired on protesters Friday during a demonstration calling for the release of detainees. The ANHRI called on all those concerned with human rights in the middle east and the world to press the Saudi regime for the release of political detainees and to respect the freedom of opinion and expression.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Kuwait, royal family member Sheikh Meshaal al-Malek al-Sabah was arrested by state security police for posting political statements on Twitter opposed to the policies of the ruling family. Al-Sabah has stated his intention to run for parliament and expose political corruption among members if successful. Alarabiya reported the rights group, the Gulf Forum for Civil Societies, criticized the Sheiks arrest, saying he was arrested because of his courageous views that opposed the policies of the Kuwaiti ruling family.
Additonally, Simeon Kerr of the Financial Times wrote that Oman’s historic distance from the other Gulf states has enabled the state to avoid falling into the sectarian politics that has become common in the rest of the region. However, Kerr notes that in the face of growing unrest in Oman, Sultan Qaboos treads a delicate path. The sultan, he notes, “has pushed himself to the forefront of decision-making,” adding, “The sultan can no longer hide behind the transgressions of corrupt ministers: if the reforms fail, so does his legacy.”