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Welcome home Fouad!

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Saudi blogger Fouad Al-FarhanSaudi Jeans reports that Fouad Al-Farhan has been released from custody after a 137 days incarceration, held without any charges.

We don’t know the details of his release and what he had to give up or sign for the authorities to finally let him go, I suspect we will hear his stories quite soon – I hope.

In any case, I am very happy indeed for his release.

Welcome home Fouad!

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Blogger does Arabic!

Blogger introduced three right-to-left languages – Arabic, Farsi and Hebrew – and not only flipped the whole interface for those languages around, but allowed the text editor to be fully bidirectionally aware, ie, you can mix English and Arabic in the same post and the editor will know which is which. This is a major pain even in regular word processors, so to have that facility on an online edit form is brilliant.

Blogger bidirectional interface

Other than that and much more important I think, Blogger (and Google) are demonstrating their worldly tendencies and awareness of their customers. Blogger for instance now supports 37 40 languages!

Congratulations to those who use Blogger. I hope that other online services emulate their lead.

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Saudi blogger Fouad Al-Farhan arrested

Saudi blogger Fouad Al-FarhanFouad Al-Farhan is one of a very few Saudi bloggers who chooses to blog under their own name, publishes his picture and challenges the establishment with utter bravery has been arrested in Saudi.

This is not Fouad’s first altercation with the authorities there. His blog has been banned in Saudi in February 2007. He resumed writing in July 2007 against almost continuous harassment. It was reported that he has been led from his office in Jeddah without any reason given.

If the reason for his arrest is due to his writing, then this is obviously a gross violation of an individual’s basic human right to freedom of expression. I call on the Saudi authorities to respect their role in the world and immediately release Fouad Al-Farhan and call on them to guarantee his safety throughout his detention.

Hang in there Fouad, you have a lot of friends with you. I applaud your determination to speak your mind for the better of our community.

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At the High Court at 9:30 for 10:00

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We’re all gathering tomorrow morning at the Court building at 9:30. Cases are looked at starting at 10:00am.

It’s a freedom of expression case, any way you look at it. Please show your opposition to attempts to stifle this freedom by being there.

Thank you.

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جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية تستنكر محاكمة البلوغر البحريني محمود اليوسف

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ندعو الصحافيين للإحتشاد أمام المحكمة

الجفير – جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية – الأحد الموافق 15 ابريل 2007
تدعو جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية جميع المنتمين للجسم الصحافي في البحرين إلى الإحتشاد والتضامن مع البلوغر البحريني محمود اليوسف، وذلك أمام المحكمة الجنائية الكبرى يوم غد الثلاثاء القادم الموافق 17 أبريل 2007 في القضية المرفوعة ضده من قبل وزير البلديات منصور بن رجب.

هذا وتهيب الجمعية بجميع الصحفيين التواجد في قاعة المحكمة وإعلان تضامنهم مع اليوسف تجاه هذه القضية التي تستهدف حرية الرأي والكلمة في البحرين. وتعلن عن إستنكارها لإصرار الوزير في إقامة دعواه ضد اليوسف، خاصة وأن موضوع الدعوى يتعلق بمقالة إنترنتية كان اليوسف يتناول فيها الوزير بصفته الإعتبارية لا الشخصية. كما وتدعو الجمعية جميع مؤسسات المجتمع المدني الحقوقية والسياسية والإجتماعية إلى التضامن بالحضور وإطلاق البيانات الداعمة لليوسف. كما وتعلن الجمعية أنها قد طلبت من المحامية فاطمة الحواج تولي مهام الدفاع عن محمود اليوسف، وتشكر الجمعية المحامية الحواج على إستجابتها السريعة لذلك.

إن جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية تدرك خطورة الإستمرار في مثل هذه المحاكمات التي تسعى إلى تقويض واحد من أهم المكتسبات الوطنية في العهد الإصلاحي لجلالة الملك حمد بن عيسى آل خليفة وهو الكلمة الحرة التي لا يمكن لجمعية الصحفيين أن تقف مكتوفة الأيدي أمام محاولات إغتيالها.

إن جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية ومن هذه المنطلق تؤكد أنها ستسعى خلال الفترة القادمة إلى تفعيل أدواتها وعلاقاتها مع المنظمات الإقليمية والدولية. ساعية من خلال هذا التحرك إلى إيقاف هذه الحملات القضائية ضد الصحافيين في البحرين.

كما وتؤكد الجمعية، انها في تبنيها لقضية البلوغر البحريني محمود اليوسف قد راعت الإلتزامات والسياقات القانونية للنشر الإلكتروني، معتبرة حرية التعبير في “المدونات” جزء لا يتجزأ من حرية الكلمة والتعليق وفق ما تقتضيه أدبيات ميثاق العمل الوطني ودستور مملكة البحرين 2002 وآخذة في الاعتبار تبني المؤسسات الدولية لحرية الصحافة العديد من القضايا المتعلقة بالمدونات والنشر الإلكتروني.

وإننا في جمعية الصحفيين إذ نصدر هذه الدعوة فإننا على ثقة بأن نزاهة القضاء البحريني ستكون داعمة لحرية الكلمة والتعبير. وإن الجمعية لتقدر في أعضاء الجسم الصحافي في البحرين سواء الأعضاء المنتمين أو من هم خارجها إستجابتهم لهذه الدعوة للاحتشاد في يوم المحاكمة آملة في أن يستجيب الوزير لمطالبات سحب هذه الدعوى.

عادل مرزوق
نائب رئيس الجمعية

The Bahraini Journalists Association denounces the trial of Bahraini blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif

Journalists call to mobilize at the High Criminal Court

Jufair – Bahraini Journalists Association – Sunday, April 15, 2007
Bahraini Journalists Association invites all journalists in Bahrain to amass in solidarity with the Bahraini blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif at the High Criminal Court on Tuesday April 17, 2007 due to the case brought against him by the Minister of Municipalities Mansour bin Rajab.

This calls all the journalists to be present at the courtroom and declare their solidarity with Al-Yousif on this issue of freedom of opinion and expression in Bahrain. The BJA condemns the insistence of the minister in pursuing a lawsuit against Al-Yousif, especially as Al-Yousif’s criticism of the minister in his Internet published article was criticism of the minister’s capacity as public official rather than personal. The BJA also calls on civic institutions political and social to show their solidarity by attending at the trial and release supportive statements of Al-Yousif. The Society also announces that it has asked Advocate Fatima Al-Hawaj to assume the defense of Mahmood Al-Yousif and would like to thank Ms. Al-Hawaj for her acceptance in assuming that role.

The Bahraini Journalists Association, realizes the seriousness of the continuation of such trials, which seek to undermine one of the most important achievements in the national reform of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, which is the tenet of the freedom of speech; thus, the Journalists Association will not stand idle and watch the the assassination attempts of this freedom.

The Bahraini Journalists Association will exert all efforts available within its powers and will activate all the tools at its disposal as well as its relations with regional and international organizations to demand a stop to these judicial campaigns against journalists in Bahrain.

The Association stresses that in espousing the cause of Bahraini blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif had taken into consideration the commitments and legal contexts of electronic publishing asserting that freedom of expression in these laws are an integral part of freedom of speech as required by the tenets of the National Action Charter and the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain. It has also taken into account the adoption of international journalists institutions of similar electronic publishing cases and defended them within the context of the freedom of the press.

We in the Journalists Association are confident of the impartiality of the judiciary in Bahrain and will be supportive of freedom of speech and expression. The Association appreciates that the members of the press in Bahrain, both members and non-members, respond to this call to mobilize on the day of the trial hoping that the minister responds to our demands of withdrawing this lawsuit.

Adel Marzooq
Vice President
Bahrain Journalists Association

note: translation to English is my attempt

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The Fish has left the island

Chan’ad has officially left the island last Friday, swam all the way to the East Coast of the US of A to settle for a while to take care of some outstanding business. He promises to start blogging again once he’s really settled, and I look forward to read some of his insights and future plans.

Good luck Chan’ad, and for God’s sake don’t start missing shawarmas! 😉

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