Saturday, August 8, 2009

Blogger Raafat Al Ghanem Arrested

(ANHRI/IFEX) - According to AHNRI's information, on 29 July 2009 Saudi security arrested Syrian blogger Raafat Al Ghanem and detained him in an unknown location. The 25-year-old is a Saudi resident and owner of the blog"Defaf", .

Al Ghanem, who is living in Saudi Arabia with his family, had gone to the passports administration office in Ryiadh upon a request from his father. While there, he was arrested by the Saudi investigative police and taken to an unknown location. On the evening of the same day, police officers went to the blogger's house and confiscated his hard disk.

Al Ghanem contributes to both Saudi and Syrian net forums and often criticises social and political situations in both countries. He signed an"Appeal To The Custodian Of The Two Holy Mosques To Release The Blogger Laitaibi And The Writer Khaled Omair", both detained since the beginning of 2009 in Saudi Arabia, as they were planning a demonstration in Riyadh calling for an end to the war in Gaza. The appeal was signed by nearly a hundred Arab writers and media figures as well as Arab human rights organisations. Al Ghanem also posted articles criticizing the practices of the Commissioners for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Viceorganization (1), and the mutaween (2).

The last article Al Ghanem posted on his blog, entitled "Eunuchs Playing Heroes", was deleted immediately after his arrest, which suggests that he may have been tortured by the security forces for the blog's password or that the administration of the Elaph site is responsible for deleting this last article.

ANHRI denounces the continued policy of the Saudi security forces to arrest activists and bloggers and to detain them in unknown locations. The organisation urges the Syrian government to not keep quiet about this extreme violation against a Syrian citizen.

ANHRI asserts that disclosing the oppressive practices of the Saudi security forces has readily become an item on ANHRI's priority list for the very near future. ANHRI will continue to monitor the Saudi government atrocities while the government does not abide by the law.

BACKGROUND: (1) Commission for the Promoting of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice(CPVPV): The religious police in Saudi Arabia are employed in a direct order ofcommand from the king. They are tasked with enforcing Sharia as defined in Saudi Arabia. In addition to having the power to arrest anyone engaged in inappropriate contact between the sexes, they can also enforce Islamic dress-codes and store closures during prayer time, and prohibit the consumption or sale of alcoholic beverages. In addition to this, they actively prevent the religious practices of other religions within Saudi Arabia.

(2) Mutaween: The Mutaween in Saudi Arabia are tasked with enforcing Sharia as defined by the government, specifically by the Commission for the Promoting of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV). The Mutaween of the CPVPV consists of more than 3,500 officers in addition to thousands of volunteers - often accompanied by a police escort.

For more information:
Arabic Network for Human Rights
Cairo Egypt
info (@)
Phone: +20 227 736177
Fax: +20 227 736177

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