Saturday, January 29, 2005


The first rumours started around January 10th that around 50 Omanis had been arrested because they belonged to a religious/extremist organization. Was it Al Qaeda? Were they sunna or ibadha? No details. By January 15th, some Omani blogs had already mentioned it. The first hint of legitimacy to the story came on the first day of Eid when one of the Arab news channels first mentioned it. Then the rumor machine went into overdrive: They wanted to blow up the opening ceremony of Muscat Festival when all the ministers would be in attendance.

On the first day of work after the eid holiday, OmanForum got buzzin' about the news too. As usual they did their bit (they don't call it the Local Gossip forum for nothing after all) by jacking up the figures: 600 Omanis Caught!!!

A few days later the news agencies and the international news got on the wagon too. Oman 'arrests hundreds over plot' said the BBC and added to the story that they were planning explosions that target Muscat Festival. The very next day Rueters came through with real news reporting instead of the BBC's gossip mongering, Oman detains a group of Islamists - sources which said that 1) Only around 30 people have been arrested, and 2) they were not "violent extremists". (The Reuters story is also interesting because it mentions an Omani human rights activist who I had never heard of before). Yesterday's KhaleejTimes has an article 'Academics among 100 held in Oman' which is significant because it includes a quote from the son of Ali bin Hilal Al Abri, the professor who all the other articles referred to without ever mentioning his name.

And yet despite the fact that the son of one of the arrested has come forward to comment, there is still no official comment from the government. In fact, there has been a denial of the news by the police in the UAE Arabic newspaper Al Bayan:
نفى مصدر مسؤول في الشرطة العمانية نفياً قاطعاً خبر اعتقال مجموعة من المتشددين في مسقط واعتبره من قبيل الاشاعة والاثارة.

وقال المصدر الذي فضل عدم الكشف عن اسمه لـ «البيان» امس ان سلطات الأمن العمانية لا تعلم بوجود مثل هذه الاعتقالات والتي اعتبرها شائعات ملفقة محملاً المسؤولية للجهة التي قامت بنشرها من غير الاعتماد على مصادر رسمية

Since it has now become clear that all the arrested are ibadhis, then that puts to rest all the talk about Al Qaeda. The salafis of Al Qaeda hate Ibadhis almost as much as they hate the shi'a (I think they call them rafidha). So what could all this be about? I'm hearing lots of talk about the re-institution of the Imamate.

As for the bombing of the festival, that's probably untrue too. The weapons in this alleged case were caught by the authorities before they even got to them. What kind of weapons were they. The way they're described in the press, it sounds like guns not bombs. Have any arms really been seized with the people who were caught, or is it just the truck from Yemen bringing guns which never got to them?

I've heard that some of the people arrested were the type of idiots who thought that the music concerts were the biggest threat to our country. I think they should torture them by putting them in a cage in the front row of Elissa's upcoming beach concert.

Vanquish from OmanForum has started a shared blog and in it he's raging against what he calls "Traitors!! Cowards!!". In a way I share his anger at them. I don't understand what is it that they don't like about Oman. I think we have a perfect balance. But I disagree with some of the other stuff he wrote.

If the idiots really did have intentions of killing people, which I still seriously doubt, then yes they do deserve the harshest sentences. But, just because they are being accused of heinous crimes, does that mean that they have no rights to defend themselves? Can't there be some innocents among those caught? And even if there wasn't, how could transparency hurt the process?


Anonymous said...

Hi Muscati,

Always enjoy reading your blog, keep up the good work.

Who are the Ibadhis? I just know it is sect of Islam nothing more.

Maya Rao

Wardat_il'7leej said...

Khawarij- Ibadhis, yet there are not directly related (check ES thread)

Anonymous said...


Still waiting for your reply. Looks as if you've been reading the same news reports as I have.
Just as a thought, as a potential British tourist, what am I to think of Oman when I hear that people have been planning to blow up the Muscat Festival, and I was thinking of travelling over to enjoy the winter sunshine?
Silence on behalf of the authorities has been dangerous in that it deters would-be visitors, and encourages rumour-mongering. I thought Oman wanted to encourage tourism. Or does it? And therein lies a whole new topic.
Today's statement from the Minister of Information doesn't encourage me either. It comes over as patronising and patriarchal, and gives no real reassurance to those who are concerned about human rights. There may indeed be merit in his point of view as outlined in the ONA statement, but the manner in which the statement is expressed matters as much as the content.
The police denial a few days ago that you pointed to only makes things worse.


Najah said...

too much disliking abadhi's..

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