Friday, January 23, 2009

Saudis Turn to the Internet for Protest

The Middle East Online discusses the increase in protest blogging in Saudi Arabia and makes the case that part of the driving force in its popularity is due to Saudi limitations on other forms of physical protest:
"Since the police’s dispersal of a demonstration in support for Palestinians in Gaza with rubber bullets and tear gas last December in the east of Saudi Arabia, hundreds of blogs and forums have flourished on the Web to carry out jihad (holy war) against Israel and the "puppet" Arab regimes."
This ability to voice anger and decent online has increased use of the Internet within the Kingdom:
"Today, the kingdom - with a population of 28.14 million, including 5.57 million expatriates - is under the influence of “Internet fever”. With over 6.2 million users in 2007, Saudi Arabia has got the 37th largest number of Internet users in the world, according to statistics compiled on December 18, 2008 by the CIA.

"By heavily showing their anger on the Web, Saudis prove they are the most faithful (Muslims) to the Palestinian cause," wrote a Saudi blogger.

"So we avoid the demagogy of rowdy street demonstrations," he added."
The article gives several examples of the use of blogs and social networks to vent anger over the Gaza conflict such as:
"We are the promoters of the Electronic Intifada. Our supporters are no less numerous than the demonstrators on the streets. We put our expertise to the resistance, to denounce the war against Gaza and the Arab silence ... without red lines to prevent us from expressing our anger," said a Saudi on YouTube."

Barrage of fire in Gaza, online ‘intifada’ in Saudi

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