Viewing cable 05MUSCAT281
Title: OMAN ONLINE: CALL TO BOYCOTT US GOODS AND ANOTHER

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05MUSCAT2812005-02-16 13:40:00 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 000281 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/ARPI (TROBERTS), NEA/PPD (CWHITTLESEY), NEA/P 
(FFINVER), IIP/G/NEA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO SOCI ETRD MU
SUBJECT: OMAN ONLINE: CALL TO BOYCOTT US GOODS AND ANOTHER 
JOURNALIST BANNED 
 
REF: 04 Muscat 2187 
 
     04 Muscat 2094 
 
¶1. Summary:  The Omani Internet chat rooms "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: 
 
--- Boycott American Consumer Products 
--- Another Omani Writer Banned 
 
End summary. 
 
------------------------------ 
Saying No to American Products 
------------------------------ 
 
¶2. An al-Sablah member recently created a list of American 
consumer products that -- in his view -- Omanis should boycott. 
"If all of us cooperate and boycott these products, the Americans 
will have to consider the feelings of other countries, instead of 
always exerting U.S. influence.  We should not support the 
economic killing of our merchants and businesses by purchasing 
American products that ultimately support the American economy 
while hurting our own," the author stated.  Many respondents 
agreed, and began adding additional products to the ever-growing 
list, suggesting local purchase alternatives such as "Zamzam Cola 
for Coca-Cola or Pepsi-Cola, Crisps for Pringles, Miswak for 
Close-Up or Crest." 
 
¶3.  The advocates of such a boycott included one member who 
wrote, "Ridding our economy of American domination would be a 
good thing.  We must assume control of the consumerism in our 
country and help ourselves."  However, others were suspicious of 
the underlying reasons that led to the call for a boycott, and 
cautioned, "Remember, some American products rely on Omani 
workers to process, market and sell them, which means they are 
essentially providing employment to Omani citizens.  These 
products help, rather than hurt, our economy." 
 
----------------- 
Crossing the Line 
----------------- 
 
¶4. Another recent topic in Al-Sablah centered on the 
investigation of another Omani journalist, who erroneously 
reported figures relating to recent arrests in Oman.  The 
journalist, Mohamed Saif Al-Rahbi (Assistant to the Chief Editor 
of "Oman", a leading government-owned Arabic language daily) 
identified himself in the online forum and claimed, "I was banned 
because of the article I published in "Al-Hayat" newspaper that 
many feel denigrated the reputation of Oman."  A number of 
respondents chastised Mr. Al-Rahbi, saying "Of course you were 
banned, you presented untrue facts when you suggested that the 
government arrested nearly 300 scholars when it was more like 13. 
Who or what is your source?  You provide no basis for your 
figures!"  Other more sympathetic members offered, "We think that 
the government is just trying to terrorize any journalist that 
dares to cross the defined red line of what is okay to say and 
what is not, even if it is the truth." 
 
BALTIMORE