Saudi Responses

– Saudi Reporters at “Mal3ob3lena” Detention

Two Saudi reporters, Asem Al-Ghamdi and Ayman Badhman, went to visit the Arrested filmmakers in detention. However, they were not allowed in, though they claimed the officers treated them kindly. Asem began live-tweeting the events, asking Saudis on the hashtag “Mal3ob3lena” if they should get dinner to have taken into the detention of the filmmakers. Upon receiving supportive replies, he posted a picture of the restaurant they’d gone to, as well as a picture of a letter snuck in the dinner bags. The letter says “1000 good wishes to you, may you all see no evil. We’re (Saudis) are all on #Mal3ob3lena hashtag for you!”.

– Feras Baqna’s Brother Blogs

Abdulrahman Baqna posted a blog entry titled “we miss you, my brother. We really miss you”. The post is very touching; it starts off with a humorous discussion between him and his brothers of how an Arabic word ought to be spelt. Then he goes on to describe the happiness at support he’s receiving online from fellow Saudis. He ends the post by explaining when he found out his brother, Feras was arrested; the tension he felt from his older brother, and the odd silence of his mother, when asked, “what’s wrong?”.

– Acting On “Mal3ob3lena” Advice & Further Documentation of Saudi Poverty

1) Thaher Al-Khaldi, a member of Soqya volunteer initiative that provides water to immigrant workers working long hours during Ramadan, was confused at the illegal detainment of Mal3ob3lena Team. He’s very well versed with poverty in Saudi Arabia, he says. And so, Al-Khaldi decided to head out to Al-Nazeem Neighborhood in East Riyadh. He planned to document a particular situation he’d known of; a family of thirteen living in a small shack-like house, in support of Mal3ob3lena Team’s efforts to do the same. He then posted the pictures on his Twitter account of this family’s poor living conditions.

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Update: Approximately a week later, Al-Khaldi returned to the same location, with a group of fellow Saudis. Following advice offered in the Mal3ob3lena Poverty Episode, they had gathered money donations to provide for cars full of foods and other living necessities which they then divided between the family he’d originally visited and their neighbors.

2) Al-Haitham decided to do the same documentation of Saudi poverty in support of the Mal3ob3lena Team at Al-Dariya Neighborhood in Riyadh.

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– Mal3ob3lena 4.5 Episode: Poverty, Part 2

A video titled was released on by a group unaffiliated with the Mal3ob3lena team but nonetheless felt very influenced by them that video was to be a sort of part to of the Team’s last episode on poverty in Saudi Arabia. This video focuses on Sabya in Jizan, a poor town that has been highly neglected as its infrastructure has not been tended to by the local Ministry and, as one man states, “there are no sewage systems, no proper care for our town, and so hygiene is very low”.

The video concludes with a man describing their bureaucratic plight, “We waited 20 years for re-pavement of our roads. Finally, workers began the project, but only half the roads are repaved and rain water gathers were re-pavement has not reached yet. When we ask them why they haven’t completed their job, they tell us that is all they’ve been authorized to do. This is what we’ve waited years for?”.

– Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) Statement

The Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association issued a statement condemning “in the strongest possible terms” the arbitrary arrests of the filmmakers of “Mal3ob3lena”, Feras Baqna, Hussam Al-Drewesh, and Khaled Al-Rasheed.

– “Follow Feras” Twitter Campaign

A “Follow Feras” campaign was started on the hashtag #FollowFeras with the goal of reaching 50,000 followers for Feras. As of now, they’ve reached over 44,000 followers within the past two days, a great feat in light of the fact that Feras only had around 6,000 before his arrest. The idea behind this campaign was to send a positive message to Feras and discourage any feelings of regret he may experience after being arrested for speaking out on poverty in Saudi Arabia.

– “Mal3ob3lena” Twibbon & Profile Pictures

A “Mal3ob3lena” Twibbon was created by Saudis, it has been added by over 8,300 twitter users so far and has remained a trending Twibbon for over a week. Countless profile pictures have been changed to the “Mal3ob3lena” logo, or pictures of the arrested Filmmakers as well.

– “Free Feras Baqna and his Friends” Facebook Page

A Facebook page was recently made that is demanding the immediate release of the Filmmakers. In the Info section, it is written, “Just as you were not silent on poverty, we will not be silent on your arrest”.

– Various Saudi blogs have covered the unjust arrests:

Ahmed Al-Omran, “Are We Fine? Two Saudi Men Detained over YouTube Video” [English]

Al-Maqaal Blog, “Mal3ob3lena.. A Right And Cause” [Arabic]

Wael Al-Shehri, “We Are Fine, Just Peachy!” [English]

Abdullah Al-Suwaiyan, “Feras Baqna.. Symbol of The New Media” [Arabic]

Ahmed Abobutain, “We Are All Feras Bughnah” [English]

Fahad Al-Hazmi, “The People Want Red Ink” [Arabic]

Abdulrahman Al-Kanhal, “Why Was Feras Baqna Arrested?” [Arabic]

Amal Zahid, “Saudi Journalism Is In the Recovery Room!” [Arabic]

Abdulaziz Al-Hubail, “What does Feras Want?” [Arabic]

– “Feras Baqna” Wikipedia Page

Saudis created Wikipedia page introducing Feras Baqna as a student at Prince Sultan University in Riyadh. It mentions his beginnings as founder of “Ghairny” Youth Initiative in Riyadh, Feras writes “we read many articles about the negative aspects of the Saudi community, how identifiable our country is based on the absurdities of its people. Not to mention the extensive critiquing of the government and the near impossible methods of reaching a given goal. I ask here, what have you done to get past these obstacles or problems that persistently bother you?”. The Initiatives Mission Statement is an answer to this question, “the aim is to focus on using our time for what benefits our country and to uplift the image of Saudi Youth as responsible and influential members of society”. The wikipedia page then moves on to quoting many prominent Saudi Activists on the Injustice of Mal3ob3lena Team’s Illegal Detainment.

– “3al6ayer” Episode, Baa

One of the most prominent Saudi youtube shows, featuring the comedian Omar Hussein, aired its latest episode with a definite focus on the recent illegal arrest of the Mal3ob3lena team. The episode begins with the 3al6ayer Team are standing before numerous bubbles, each a different issue in Saudi Arabia. Omar then exclaims how the Saudi ‘New Media’ has it’s work cut out for it. In the next scene, a quote from Feras’ mother, “God, who saved Joseph from the depths of the pit and Jonah from the belly of the Whale, release Feras and his friends today”. The episode continues on with various Ministries of the Saudi government being critiqued based on recent news stories. At one point Omar begins to offer a solution, but demands that it not actually be called a solution, hinting at the recent arrest of Feras Baqna from Mal3ob3lena who was similarly proposing solutions of his own for issues, like poverty, in Saudi Arabia. After the credits roll, a small skit is played in which one man is shown to represent temporarily solutions the government has taken to problems, or simply the absence of solutions in some cases. Another man sits beside the first and represents solutions a citizen might have, or simply intelligent questions of why real, rather than temporary, solutions haven’t been offered. The first man then beats up the second man, as a way to stop the citizen-based solutions. An obvious analogy with what has happened to the Mal3ob3lena Team. Omar is then questioned of his relation to the citizen’s solutions man, he avoids answering. But is then forced to admit, almost as if it were a crime, “I’m here to film for solutions”.

This episode is crucial because it is the first from a well-known show of the Saudi ‘New Media’ that has offered a sort of response to the illegal arrest of the Mal3ob3lena Team. Not only does it carry on with critiquing various issues the 3al6ayer Team cared to include without hesitation, as it has typically done in previous episodes, thus establishing the fact that arresting one will not silence all others, it also directly supports the Mal3ob3lena Team by quoting Feras’ mother. In this way, 3al6ayer hints to the injustice of the situation, and throughout the episode also points to the absurdity that is the denial of citizen participation in offering solutions for issues within their own country.

– “So We Don’t Forget Them” Youtube Video

A youtube video that was created and spread through social media outlets, it features various Prisoners of Conscience in Saudi Arabia, Feras Baqna was included. The video description reads, “You, who have sacrificed for our unclear future, you are most worthy of our loyalty to your noble pasts”.

– “Saudi Morals” Youtube Video

This video was created by Ayman, a Saudi engineer in the UK and occasional blogger. In this video, it is shown, sarcastically, some of the morally “positive” characteristics that one learns from living in Saudi Arabia. It ends with “keeping secrets” as the final positive characteristic and points to the fact that the only alternative is a “trip behind the sun”, an Arabic phrase to describe when governments make citizens “disappear” in a rather mafia-like manner. Afterwhich, an image of Feras Baqna is displayed, along with a prayer for his release.

– “Mal3ob3lena” Support T-Shirts

Another Saudi woman, Najla, stated “in solidarity with the arrested filmmakers, I’ve decided to purchase many plain white T-Shirts and print “Free Mal3ob3lena Team” on them and wear it daily to in my university”. [Pictures to be available soon]

– “Mal3ob3lena” Charges

A Saudi on twitter, Fahad, sarcastically commented, “Yesterday it was thought maybe the language used in the film was the reason behind their arrest, today maybe they’ll come up with ‘violent’ filming as an excuse, and tomorrow it’ll be ‘inciting’ the public”.


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One thought on “Saudi Responses

  1. This issue must be reported to King Abdullah in person, otherwise it will not be rsolved. These days are the best (Alashr Alawael of Alhejja)

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