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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Saudi Arabia arrests five bloggers

From Saudi Gazette:
JEDDAH – Security authorities have arrested three Saudis and two expatriates for spreading false propaganda through the Internet, the Ministry of Interior announced on Wednesday.

The five were misleading young people, manipulating their religious sentiments and instigating them to create trouble, an official source at the ministry said.

Using pseudonyms to suggest they have supporters, the five accused would thus lure people to communicate with them as a first step towards recruitment for “vicious and wicked goals,” the source said.

“Despite the difficulty of laying such traps, our security men are highly capable and qualified to track down and arrest such deviants who spread wrong ideas wherever they are,” Interior Ministry spokesman Major Gen. Mansour Al-Turki told Saudi Gazette.

“These deviant mentalities use modern technology like the Internet to spread to mislead surfers and spread their deviant methodology,” he said without revealing where the five accused were arrested. “It doesn’t matter which cities they are from. What matters is their deviant thinking,” he said.

The Ministry cautioned the public about advocates of “deviant thoughts, their tricky methods and malicious intentions to mislead the sons of the soil and turn them into tools in the hands of their enemies who are conspiring against their country on which Almighty Allah has bestowed the honor of serving the Two Holy Harams.” The statement warned against falling victim “to these deviants who use deceptive and misrepresentative methods in promoting their evil thoughts.”
From this article it is a little hard to figure out what exactly these people were saying. The over-use of the word "deviant" implies homosexuality, but some of their names imply terrorism ("The Encyclopedia of Jihad.") Were they advocating an overthrow of the monarchy? Were they writing fictional stories about Mohammed?

A better hint may be seen in a recent law that passed in neighboring Kuwait. The law is set to "criminalize the promotion of immoral conduct, encouraging anti-government sentiments, divulging state secrets, or insulting Islam online." Chances are that these were the sorts of things that the "deviant" bloggers were doing.