Viewing cable 05MUSCAT698
Title: OMAN ONLINE: DEBATING THE TRIAL

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05MUSCAT6982005-04-27 13:24:00 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 000698 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/ARPI, NEA/PPD, NEA/P, IIP/G/NEA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO SOCI MU
SUBJECT: OMAN ONLINE: DEBATING THE TRIAL 
 
 
¶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: 
 
-- The controversy over the detainee trial continues 
 
End summary. 
 
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WAS THERE A THREAT? 
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¶2. Al-Sablah subscribers strongly condemned the ongoing trial of 
those accused of belonging to a secret, illegal organization that 
threatened Oman's national security.  The trial was by far the 
most discussed topic in al-Sablah this week.  One participant 
wrote, "Defense attorneys have been allowed to represent the 
defendants, but the only evidence that they have are files 
compiled by the prosecution.  So, the defense attorneys' case 
will be based on prosecution documents.  How fair can the trial 
be?" 
 
 
 
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NOT BUYING THE GOVERNMENT LINE 
------------------------------ 
 
¶3.  The publication in the principal dailies of photographs of 
the weapons cache seized from defendants did little to change the 
opinion of at least some al-Sablah subscribers.  One commented, 
"I do not understand why the government is so keen to enforce the 
1990 weapons law (forbidding private ownership of virtually all 
weapons) now.  It has not been enforced before."  Several 
subscribers pointed out that owning guns is a part of Omani 
culture.  One stated, "You can purchase guns like those in any 
Omani traditional market.  You just have to visit Salalah to know 
that.  Besides, the defendants are accused of selling weapons. 
If they were trying to overthrow the government, why would they 
sell weapons?  The logical thing would be for them to buy them." 
Another participant asked ironically, "Can our Sultan who is 
protected by an army of forty thousand men be ousted by a few men 
with a few guns?"  Another subscriber speculated, "Next Monday, 
the court will issue a guilty verdict and sentence the men to 
death.  Then the Sultan will promptly pardon them. This will 
ensure that the government can stay in place for a few more 
years." 
 
BALTIMORE