AmericanSage

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

"Ocsab" Emerges as Saudi Dissidents Blog for Liberalism, Reform

"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," - Ahmed, Saudi Jeans.

Andrew Hammond of Reuters has a interesting piece on the growing battle for control of the Saudi blogosphere today. Forbidden from expressing their views in public, anonymous Saudi bloggers critical of their regime are now being invited to join Ocsab, the so-called "Official Community of Saudi Bloggers."

The Saudi state (read the Saudi royal family) already controls the mainstream Saudi media. Is Ocsab a cover for their expansion into new media? Read the story, with quotes from courageous Saudi dissidents, here.

3 Comments:

Anonymous doctoorh said...

Just for your notice, Ocsab doesn't belong to the goverment or something like that. It's a community which has been created to make the Saudi blogs become better and more activate in every positive way. For example the articles, the thougths.. etc.
The article in the reuters made a huge mistakes by (not) telling the whole truth about this community - Ocsab.
Anyway, I just wanted you to know, as a part from this community. And I wish all the luck for the Saudi bloggers.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous a.s. said...

Doctoorh,

Thanks for visiting.

A few questions:

In what sense is Ocsab the "Official" Community of Saudi Arabian Bloggers? What does the word "official" mean if not "sanctioned"? I'm not saying that I have any evidence that Oscab is a Saudi government from, but I am asking you, as an Ocsaber, to clarify.

Also, I alluded to this comment by Ahmed: "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." What do you make of that?

So far everyone visiting this site from Saudi Arabia has done so after a technorati search of Ocsab visiting from ISP's owned by the Saudi government. Does the Saudi government own all the ISPs in Saudi Arabia? Either way, I'm sure you can see why dissenting bloggers are skeptical of your community even if you're not "officially" sanctioned by your government and even if you're not searching technorati at that government's behest.

I'm looking forward to your feedback,
AmericanSage

12:18 AM  
Anonymous a.s. said...

Correction:

According to Ahmed at Saudi Jeans (who graciously responded to an email about this despite the barrage of questions he's been getting), the Saudi government does not own the ISPs "but the government filter all the internet traffic through something called Internet Service Unit (ISU), which is responsible for blocking websites."

ISU does indeed appear on my sitemeter reports next to the names of the ISPs. Good to know we're not being blocked, and even though the Saudi's might not own the ISPs in question, that point might be in many senses moot.

Anyone with more knowledge of the filtering/blocking process is encouraged to respond.

12:20 PM  

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