Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday 28 May 2009

Solidarity with Susie

I've just come across a story about an American expat (lady) blogger, married to a Saudi Arabian national and living in Jeddah, whose blog susie's big adventure has been blocked from being accessible within Saudi Arabia, although it remains viewable elsewhere. There is no clear reason why the Saudi Arabian Communications and Internet Technology Commission have taken this action, although it may be that the fact susie's big adventure was recently mentioned in a high-traffic website, which resulted in a dramatic rise in visits to her site in April, in particular, may have brought the blog to the Saudi Arabian authorities' attention.

As you can see from reading her blog, it is pretty anodyne and level-headed, although she does allude to the restrictions placed on women there, for example in a recent article about the fact that women are not permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia she links to a video showing Saudi Arabian cleric Dr. Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Fawzan explaining why women should not be allowed to drive. It's laugh-out-loud funny in some parts, of course, but it perhaps goes some way to explaining the action taken against her blog within the Kingdom by a very sensitive, some would say paranoid, regime. Embedding has unfortunately been 'disabled by request', so you'll have to visit YouTube to see it here.

I don't know what, if anything, fellow-bloggers can do to help Susie, but at least I can do my little bit to publicise the domestic censorship that she must contend with in Saudi Arabia. As she writes, though, her own family and friends back in the States can continue to read her blog (one of the principal reasons she started it) so even though she has been obliged to switch commenting to pre-publication 'moderation' (so she can retain some control over what is said in her comments area) she remains able to post new blog entries and modify the template. However, she cannot any longer respond to comments through her own comments area as she cannot visit her own blog. I lived in Saudi Arabia before the internet was even thought of and quite enjoyed being there; we had our own problems there in those days, just as those who live there today have their own. A deeply weird and disfunctional society it remains.

(PS/ Funnily enough I wrote fairly recently about possible changes which might one day in the not too distant future permit women to drive in Saudi Arabia. However the power of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices can never safely be overlooked there, even by those who in theory govern the country.)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bill - I would just like to thank you for your support. You have no idea how much it means to me. I feel very lucky to be a part of the tremendously supportive worldwide blogging community. I hope the decision to block my blog here in the Kingdom will be reversed soon, but I have no idea if it will. Thanks for bringing attention to my story.
    Warmest Regards - Susie


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