Viewing cable 05MUSCAT532
Title: OMAN ONLINE: DEFENDING ARRESTEES, TRUSTING THE

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05MUSCAT5322005-03-30 10:07:00 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 000532 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ARPI (TROBERTS), NEA/PPD (CWHITTLESEY), NEA/P 
(FFINVER), IIP/G/NEA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO SOCI MU
SUBJECT: OMAN ONLINE: DEFENDING ARRESTEES, TRUSTING THE 
GOVERNMENT, MOLES IN AL-SABLAH, AND JOB SEEKERS 
 
 
¶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: 
 
-- Controversy over arrests continues 
-- Internet chat rooms should have faith in the government 
-- No place for "moles" in Al-Sablah 
-- Thirty percent of job seekers not serious 
 
End summary. 
 
------------------- 
Guilty or Innocent? 
------------------- 
 
¶2. The government recently issued a statement accusing recent 
arrestees of belonging to a "secret, illegal organization."  This 
statement apparently angered many al-Sablah members.  One wrote, 
"We should form a committee to help their families with legal 
costs."  Others called for demonstrations throughout the country 
to let the families of the arrestees know that they have the 
support of the Omani people.  Almost all al-Sablah subscribers 
stated that they believe that the arrestees are innocent.  One 
participant wrote, "If the government had proof of their guilt, 
it would have presented it long ago." 
 
-------------------- 
Exaggerated Concerns 
-------------------- 
 
¶3. Al-Sablah subscribers took to task Saif al-Rahbi, a journalist 
with the government-owned Arabic daily newpaper "Oman" for 
writing an editorial accusing writers in Internet chat rooms of 
exaggerating the human rights concerns raised by the arrest of 
prominent Omanis.  Previously, al-Rahbi had been known for 
publishing in al-Sablah articles criticizing the government for 
the lack of press freedom.  One subscriber wrote, "Al-Rahbi is a 
hypocrite.  If he thinks it will help him to reap financial 
benefit, he will do anything to ingratiate himself with the 
government."  Another participant speculated, "It's strange to 
hear al-Rahbi say `the rule of law is strong in Oman' and 'the 
wise Omani government will protect the innocent.'  Only money or 
fear could have caused such a profound change."  Still another al- 
Sablah participant wrote, "There is no place among the al-Sablah 
membership for people who are here only to praise the good deeds 
of the government." 
 
------------------- 
Moles in Al-Sablah? 
------------------- 
 
¶4. In a related topic, many al-Sablah members expressed surprise 
that several recent subscribers to the chat room have posted 
comments in support of the government's decision to arrest 
alleged members of an illegal society.  One wrote, "The 
government was right to convict them because they posed a threat 
to the stability and security of this country.  The Omani 
security services found sufficient proof of this."  Another 
subscriber stated, "I have seen with my own eyes the weapons that 
belonged to the people who are under arrest."  Most subscribers 
viewed the new members with suspicion.  Several commented, "These 
people are `moles.' They think they can fool us with their pro- 
government statements and lies, but we know the truth.  Another 
participant wrote, "There is no place in al-Sablah for spies.  We 
can easily detect them." 
 
------------------------ 
To Work, or Not to Work? 
------------------------ 
 
¶5. Al-Sablah members criticized the Minister of Manpower for a 
recent statement in which he said that 30 percent of Omani job 
seekers are not serious about finding work.  One al-Sablah 
participant wrote, "If what the Minister said is true, then what 
has he done to help the 70 percent of Omani job seekers who are 
serious about finding work?  If the Minister were doing his job 
they would all be employed." 
 
BALTIMORE