Viewing cable 05MUSCAT1030
Title: OMAN ONLINE: SHOOTINGS, SCIENCE, AND STATESMEN

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05MUSCAT10302005-06-29 17:06:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Muscat
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS MUSCAT 001030 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/ARPI, NEA/PPD, NEA/P, IIP/G/NEA 
AMMAN FOR ESTH HUB - JWHITTLESEY 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO SOCI TSPL KCRM MU
SUBJECT: OMAN ONLINE: SHOOTINGS, SCIENCE, AND STATESMEN 
 
REF: MUSCAT 1013 
 
¶1. Summary:  The Omani Internet message boards "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: 
 
-- Shooting Incident In Muscat 
-- Royal Decree On Scientific Research Council 
-- Newspaper Interview With Yusuf bin Alawi 
 
End summary. 
 
------------------- 
Shades Of Columbine 
------------------- 
 
¶2. On June 27, a disgruntled former teacher of Islamic studies 
entered a branch office of the Ministry of Education and shot 
several former supervisors and colleagues before eventually 
committing suicide (see reftel).  Al-Sablah members expressed 
shock at this incident, and offered condolences to the victims' 
families.  One writer feared, "This is a horrible event that will 
have serious consequences in our society and will change a lot of 
things."  Similarly, others warned that the shooting may be a 
grim harbinger of future trends in Oman, saying "The slowness of 
administrative courts to act upon certain cases may well provoke 
citizens to take matters into their own hands, however 
violently." 
 
---------------------------- 
They Blinded Me With Science 
---------------------------- 
 
¶3. Although there is hardly ever a consensus among al-Sablah 
contributors, there was universal acclaim for the recent royal 
decree establishing a "Scientific Research Council" made up of 
prominent government and academic officials, with a stated goal 
to promote research through an integrated national plan.  "This 
decree shows the importance of scientific thinking, and the 
Sultan wants Oman to be a leader in the technological development 
of our era," observed one respondent.  Another claimed, "It is 
good that the council includes individuals from educational 
institutions, and not just ministry people." 
 
----------------------- 
Praise For The Minister 
----------------------- 
 
¶4. The Doha-based "al-Bayan" newspaper published a full-page 
interview with Oman's Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs 
Yusuf bin Alawi on June 27.  Many topics were raised during the 
interview, including the Sultan's recent pardoning of Ibadhi 
Muslims convicted of belonging to a secret organization and 
seeking to overthrow the government.  Al-Sablah members quickly 
seized on several of the minister's responses, in which - 
according to the newspaper - he stated that the organization had 
not been established to overthrow the government, but rather to 
protect the teaching of Ibadhism. 
 
¶5. One contributor asked, "If an official like Yusuf bin Alawi 
says that the organization did not intend to overthrow the 
government, than why did the media and the internal security 
services make that accusation?  Why are there contradictions 
between the statements of government officials?"  Another author 
complained, "Why is he mentioning the Ibadhis now?  Why did he 
not mention the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood group that was 
imprisoned ten years ago?"  However, most forum members hailed 
the minister's responses: "Yusuf bin Alawi is a clever and 
intelligent diplomat....  He was one of the few people in whom 
Sultan Qaboos placed his trust to lead Oman's foreign policy 
since the 1970s." 
 
BALTIMORE