wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05MUSCAT532 2005-03-30 10:07:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Muscat
Cable title:  

OMAN ONLINE: DEFENDING ARRESTEES, TRUSTING THE

Tags:   KPAO SOCI MU 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  UNCLAS MUSCAT 000532 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ARPI (TROBERTS), NEA/PPD (CWHITTLESEY), NEA/P
(FFINVER), IIP/G/NEA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO SOCI MU
SUBJECT: OMAN ONLINE: DEFENDING ARRESTEES, TRUSTING THE
GOVERNMENT, MOLES IN AL-SABLAH, AND JOB SEEKERS




1. Summary: The Omani Internet chat rooms "Al-Sablah" and "Al-
Majarra" are the liveliest and most comprehensive Arabic-language
fora for political and social discourse in the country, touching
on issues and personalities rarely addressed in the conventional
media. While not totally free, nor wholly reflective of Omani
public opinion, these popular sites nevertheless offer a
worthwhile window into the hot topics and unvarnished views of
the day. This edition of Oman Online contains the following
topics:

-- Controversy over arrests continues
-- Internet chat rooms should have faith in the government
-- No place for "moles" in Al-Sablah
-- Thirty percent of job seekers not serious

End summary.



--------------------------


Guilty or Innocent?


--------------------------





2. The government recently issued a statement accusing recent
arrestees of belonging to a "secret, illegal organization." This
statement apparently angered many al-Sablah members. One wrote,
"We should form a committee to help their families with legal
costs." Others called for demonstrations throughout the country
to let the families of the arrestees know that they have the
support of the Omani people. Almost all al-Sablah subscribers
stated that they believe that the arrestees are innocent. One
participant wrote, "If the government had proof of their guilt,
it would have presented it long ago."



--------------------------


Exaggerated Concerns


--------------------------





3. Al-Sablah subscribers took to task Saif al-Rahbi, a journalist
with the government-owned Arabic daily newpaper "Oman" for
writing an editorial accusing writers in Internet chat rooms of
exaggerating the human rights concerns raised by the arrest of
prominent Omanis. Previously, al-Rahbi had been known for
publishing in al-Sablah articles criticizing the government for
the lack of press freedom. One subscriber wrote, "Al-Rahbi is a
hypocrite. If he thinks it will help him to reap financial
benefit, he will do anything to ingratiate himself with the
government." Another participant speculated, "It's strange to
hear al-Rahbi say `the rule of law is strong in Oman' and 'the
wise Omani government will protect the innocent.' Only money or
fear could have caused such a profound change." Still another al-
Sablah participant wrote, "There is no place among the al-Sablah
membership for people who are here only to praise the good deeds
of the government."



--------------------------


Moles in Al-Sablah?


--------------------------





4. In a related topic, many al-Sablah members expressed surprise
that several recent subscribers to the chat room have posted
comments in support of the government's decision to arrest
alleged members of an illegal society. One wrote, "The
government was right to convict them because they posed a threat
to the stability and security of this country. The Omani
security services found sufficient proof of this." Another
subscriber stated, "I have seen with my own eyes the weapons that
belonged to the people who are under arrest." Most subscribers
viewed the new members with suspicion. Several commented, "These
people are `moles.' They think they can fool us with their pro-
government statements and lies, but we know the truth. Another
participant wrote, "There is no place in al-Sablah for spies. We
can easily detect them."



--------------------------


To Work, or Not to Work?


--------------------------





5. Al-Sablah members criticized the Minister of Manpower for a
recent statement in which he said that 30 percent of Omani job
seekers are not serious about finding work. One al-Sablah
participant wrote, "If what the Minister said is true, then what
has he done to help the 70 percent of Omani job seekers who are
serious about finding work? If the Minister were doing his job
they would all be employed."

BALTIMORE