So... two guys get sentenced to jail for 'insulting' His Majesty the Sultan. The first guy, Hamoud Al Rashdi (a writer) was sentenced to six months and a fine of 200 OMR). The second guy, Hamad Al Kharousi (a poet) apparently wrote a poem insulting the character of His Majesty and was sentenced to ONE FRIGGIN YEAR in jail and a fine of 200 OMR. Given the current situation in Oman, that was pretty stupid in my opinion (writing the poem, not the court ruling to any confused readers) Both are out on bail. Another group of 'activists' are awaiting their trial.
Question: both are being referred to by international human rights organizations as 'Human rights defenders'. I'm not familiar with either of them. If you know anything about their human rights activism (?), do share. I'm interested.
To be honest guys, there's plenty to write about from Salalah these days. I should be doing some festival coverage and updating you on all the interesting events, lectures, conferences and concerts. Unfortunately, the campaign of intimidation against anyone with an opinion in Oman has me feeling rather low. There is no such thing as 'complete freedom of speech' but we can get close. Oman is definitely nowhere near there. And to be honest, I think it's the wrong time to pick on bloggers and activists in Oman. The situation in the Middle East is unstable and all eyes are on the Arab states that have not flipped. Oman is pretty stable but we're not immune to anything.
I am deeply loyal to His Majesty but I also believe in basic human rights. I'm trying to understand this whole situation from the government's point of view and then from the perspective of all the activists and who want a different Oman. I can almost understand both sides. Unfortunately, I don't think the recent chain of events is going to work.
So, onto a little Salalah news: apparently two or three young women were also detained briefly for their 'negative' writings online? FROM SALALAH? HOLY SHIT. Not sure how this one will play out. I know who they are.
Frankincense Ice Cream obsession: you may now taste Trygve's wonderful ice creams at Ittina Cafe in Iteen. Drive past the festival in the direction of the mountains and once you get to the roundabout with all the small restaurants and barbecue stands, turn right and drive up the hill. The restaurant is at the top of that hill. It has a nice family section and you can get yourself a good hookah fix there as well.
Rain: it rained for a couple of days then dried up for about a week, then started raining again a couple of days ago. That's probably added to my depression.
Gucci is not happy.