bloggers can have too much influence: Saudi jails Fouad al-Farhan

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/01/16 1 views

in e marketing 101 serving a need

caught in a web of censorship
in corporate social media we often focus on ROI – but blogging for freedom, accurate news reporting and people’s rights can hardly be measured using return-on-investment as a benchmark
Searching for freedom, dignity, justice, equality, Shura and all the remaining Islamic values which are missing… may be far more important than achieving an ROI

Blogging has become an interesting past time activity for many people. Some people blog about their hobbies, others blog about their work and some may even be corporate bloggers.In countries where the media may not be as independent and objective as in some countries, bloggers may even have become an important political voice.Now Saudi Arabia has jailed an internet blogger for the first time.  Some may consider Fouad al-Farhan as the ‘dean’ of bloggers in Saudi Arabia. He has gained a reputation as an outspoken and honest commentator on political issues in a nation where few dare broach sensistive issues.

In Saudi Arabia people may not believe newspapers but, instead trust bloggers.On 2007-12-10, security agents entered Fouad al-Farhan’s IT business in Jeddah and took him to his home. The agentes searched his house, took his laptop and are believed to have taken him to the interior ministry’s security service headquarters in the city.

During President Bush’s recent visit to the kingdom, unfortunately, the U.S. president did not bring up the issue of censorship. While the U.S. puts democracy and civil rights on the agenda (e.g., with Iran) this applies whenever it finds this to be convenient.

Unfortunately, during talks with the political leaders in Saudi Arabia, neither democracy and civil rights were brought up by the U.S. delegation and Bush in particular. This does, of course, not instill trust in the U.S. foreign policy that seems to be blatantly driven by self-interest…. but what else is new.


You are unlikely to find Fouad’s blog on any power 100 list. Neither has Fouad addressed the ROI issue. Most certainly is that his blogging has not helped his IT business (e.g., by bringing hime more clients). Worst is that his civil rights have been drastically curtailed in a country that does not appear to value people’s civil rights very much.

Fouad Al-Farhan – supporting his release

Fouad Al-Farhan had is blog banned in Saudi in February 2007. He resumed writing in July 2007 against almost continuous harassment.

Oppression grows and festers in silence. Martin Luther King Jr., once famously said that “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

So I hope the wheels will start turning and bloggers will continue to force this issue onto our news agendas. Yes Virginia, this may appear to have little to do with benchmarking and measuring a blogs ROI. Nonetheless, it points out that freedom, liberty and peace are all things worth fighting for.

And no, such kinds of blogs surely have a different reason for being than corporate blogs have…. the objective is neither to improve the conversion rate nor sales but to make the larger world no about people’s struggle to defend their human rights.

There is one thing corporate blogs do have in common with those of of the kind of Fouad al-Farhan’s blog – conversation marketing

Fouad’s supporters are trying to get going and maintain the a conversation with people who care about human rights. A corporate blog will try to get a conversation going with people already purchasing the firm’s product(s) and / or those opinion leaders or influential online bloggers that could affect sales (e.g., positive product reviews).

Sounds similar, does it not?


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