The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

My new special friends! 

Thanks to "John Bradley" for pointing me in the direction of this Reuters article:

Outspoken Saudi bloggers wary of "official" group

Outspoken bloggers in ultraconservative Saudi Arabia said this week they fear that a new "official community" of Saudi bloggers was an attempt to threaten their freedom and anonymity.

It refers of course to OCSAB, the self-styled "Official Community of Saudi Bloggers", the government-sponsored, tuberculin tested, officially-watermarked and certified list of "safe", innocuous, compliant, toadying blogs. And if you aren't on the list, you're a "non-Blog", an "unBlog" even.

....the "Official Community of Saudi bloggers", or "Ocsab", wants to sideline Web writers known for their attacks on the Saudi royal family, government policies and religious zealotry. It has been heavily feted in the Saudi media.

As one of its Wahhabi-approved Munchkins squeaked....

We want to let people know about blogging and develop the blogs that exist, if the blogs deserve it," said Raed al-Saeed, one of the Ocsab bloggers. "We want to encourage people to blog and to blog better, so that there is some ethics of blogging."

Ah yes, ethical, I meant to mention that as well up there, sorry about that.

The article then goes on to quote some famous Saudi Bloggers, starting with the fragrant Farooha, who has occasionally visited here....

"You cannot regulate the Saudi blogosphere. You cannot 'refine' it nor 'filter' it or whatever else I read that you wish to do to it. Now get your filthy hands off blogging," wrote Farooha, a female student who has one of the most popular sites in Arabic and English.

And then Ahmed of "Saudi Jeans"....

It seems like Ocsab believe liberalism equals secularism, and therefore it is against Islam. Well, I don't think that being a liberal contradicts being a Muslim," he said.

And then, the article turns to "Yours Truly"

"The Religious Policeman" -- the most outspoken of all the Saudi bloggers -- has so far not commented on the group. Based in London, he faces little pressure to moderate his tone.

Aaaarrrgghhh! Andrew Hammond, who wrote the article, where have you been? I wrote a whole post about it, just a while back. Here's what I said, amongst other things....

Maybe they will let me in as their token "bad boy", but what about the commentors? Is it possible that the people who write in the Comments threads will let the whole side down? .... OCSAB will never let them in, that's for sure. So there's the choice. Do I try to join OCSAB and make them my new best friends, or do I stick with my old friends who've been around loyally all the time?

Anyway, I've come to a decision. I'm going to try and be friends with everyone. And I really wanted to go to OCSAB's party. And what do you do when there's a party on, one that you really want to go to, but you're not invited? You gatecrash it, of course! So that's precisely what I've done. OCSAB are going to be my new best friends, whether they like it or not. And, over on the right, I've got the badge to prove it! Won't they be thrilled about that!

Not only that, I'm going to help them out some more. Being Saudis, they are of course crap at PR and Marketing. So I've done some nice graphics for their members to put up on their site. Won't they be grateful!

The first addresses the prime objective of the organization....

The second describes its typical membership....

Whereas the third is for the truly "Uriah Heap" type of member....

I'm sure some of you can help in my efforts to promote OCSAB's image; come and leave your suggestion in the "Comments". You don't want to let down my new special friends, do you?

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