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Arrests in Saudi Arabia: Terrorists or Civil society & democratic Activists?  


"The Feb.2007, "***


First I would like to briefly  introduce my self to  whom it may concern : I'm , Matrook Alfaleh , one of  three  ,of the so-called  Advocates of   " Constitutional Reform & Civil society's  "  ( the other two  are : Dr.Abd-Allah Al-Hamid ,  and  a poet , Mr.Ali  Al-Dummaini ) , who were jailed , in Saudi Arabia ,  March - 16-2004 , and sentenced unjustly( May -15-2005 ) , under the Influence & direction  of  Ministry Of Interior, just because we, signed two reform's documents ( paper  petitions ), in both of which  we peacefully  demanded  &  called upon the Saudi authority ( Saudi leadership )  to introduce a constitutional reform in Saudi Arabia. The three men, along with other reformers & supporters , - ( including ; our lawyer Abd-Alrahman Al-Lahim , Mohammed Saied Tayeb, Dr.Abd-Alhameed Mubark , Mohana Alfaleh , Issa Al-Hamid , Khalid Al-Omair, Najeeb Khunaizi ,  Ali Gathami , and still others …etc.) , and other figures, like , Dr.Saeid Zuaier & two of his sons(Mubark & Saad ), and Mr.Ibraheem Mugayteeb  , and not to mention hundreds of other cases which have  received no publicity ) - , still up to date (April 2007 ) have been banned from travel.


Second , in response to frequent inquiries as to my view on the issue of the Feb-2007 arrests in Saudi Arabia , as well as to  making  some points &  comments on what have been circulated in media and other statements  or articles  elsewhere ,  as they  relate to the latest arrests ( Feb-2-2007 ) in Saudi Arabia , several points need spelling out :


A- I would like to say and assure you that I know personally most, if not all the men being arrested. All of them are activists for civil society & democratic reform in Saudi Arabia. All of them either signed with us (the above-mentioned reformers) one or the two well known reform's documents back in January & December 2003, or supported them & us.


 For those who signed one or both reform's documents, this is true for:

 1-Issam Basrawi, a well-known lawyer in Saudi Arabia, especially in Al-hijaz Region, and who by the way, a handicapped person & our Lawyer during & after our trials (2004-2005). He signed and supported strongly both reform documents ; the first one , titled " A Vision  for the Present and Future of the Homeland " , formulated and sent January 2003 ,  and widely , and briefly has been known as  " The Vision "  . The second one, titled " " A National call for Both the Leadership & People: A constitutional Reform first "which was formulated & then sent on 16-12-2003.

2- Dr. Abdul-Rahman Shumairy, a 2006-retird professor At Um-Algura University (Mecca), signed and strongly supported both.

 3-Sulieman Al-Roshodi , a fired judge because of his role in announcing the creation of the so-called , the " Legitimate  Committee for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia " back in 1993, and he was among those of reformers jailed in March 2004 , and after his release has joined our lawyers' team , during & after our trials (2004-2005). He signed and strongly supported both.

4- Dr. Mosa Al-Garni, A retired professor at Medina University signed   with us, and strongly supported the second reform document.

5-Al- Shareef  Saif-Aldeen Faisal Al-Shareef ,( of Al-Ashraf Family which used to govern al-hijaz Region )  & currently  A businessman ,  signed, the second, above-mentioned reform document , in a second lists of names , that were supposed to be published in  a later stage, but because of March-2004 arrests never sent officially   .


           As for  the other guys being arrested , this includes :  # 6-Dr.Abd-Alaziz Al-Khuraiji, who is a medical doctor & businessman , and ;  # 7- Saud  Al-Hashmi, a medical Professor at King Abd-alaziz university (Jeddah).Both men have supported political reform as well as civil society approach . Moreover. Dr, Saud Al-Hashmi visited me and my colleague Dr. Abd-Allah Al-Hamid  three times After our release and took part  in  discussions in our " civil Society Diwanyah (  a weekly open , but not officially licensed , meeting , arranged by Dr. Al-Hamid and me in Riyadh ) , and  assured both of us that he supported civil society approach  & constitutional reform , and  since then  he has become very active  in promoting and spreading the ideas & elements of  constitutional reform movement in Saudi Arabia, through interviews& open weekly(Diwanyah ) meeting in his house in Jeddah .


As for the arrested  # 8 ,  who is  Mr. Fahad Al-Sakhry Al-Gurashi , he is a college's student at Medina University , and he has been very supportive  of the movement of constitutional reform &  civil society approach ,  as he assured Dr.Abd-Allah Al-Hamid , several times , during meetings with him , about  his position . In fact , Mr. Fahad Al-Gurashi  has , along with Dr.Al-Garni and Al-Roshoodi , before their arrest ,  signed the latest reform document, entitled : "  Milestones in the Road to a  State of constitutional Monarchy ; A State of   Justice & Shora( people's participation & representation )  , put on a web site ( see :, or , if unable to reach , see text & names , in Arabic , in  attached file ) the very day of the group's arrest on Feb.2-2007 . The newest document reform , which is somehow an extension to the previous two ones,  and  which was sent to King Abd-Allah early April 2007 , is  calling upon the Saudi government to adopt and introduce  several democratic reform's elements , including  ; independent judiciary & free   election of legislature to have the governments' policies & officials accountable , issuing & protecting a code of human rights & public liberties , including free speech & expression , as well as approving & allowing the formation & working  of independent civil society organizations. The Document also  called upon the King to curtail the already overpower of Ministry of Interior ,  which dominate totally over a very aspect of life in the country  , by splitting Ministry of Interior into two , one for security per se , and the other  to  focus in development issues and the people's  needs , and should be under   a new  Ministry  of local & regional government , now being under the control & direction of Ministry of Interior . The Document also   demands that  Ministry of Interior should respect  the code of criminal procedures that itself  approved & as well as respecting  international regional human rights conventions & agreements that the Saudi government signed or agreed to ; to achieve this  the document demands   turning , without delay ,  all  prisoners ( hundreds if not thousands ) to  public open   just trials    .


 The   newest-Feb- April-2007 reform document , based on a very  genuine & progressive vision and interpretation  of  Islam which is very compatible with the concept & essence  of democratic state  , has been signed by around 100 persons of various schools of thought & political currents , as well as of different  religions ( Islamic  sects ) of various regions of the country  , including  Shiites & Ismaelis . As for those of the men being under arrest, and who did not sign the newest reform document, they were actually about to sign it, but they were caught before signing it.

As for the 9th person being under arrest , along with the group , and about whom  Ministry of Interior  said , in its arrest's statement , he is a foreigner of north African origin , so as  to give credibility to its accusation that the men were pro-terrorism ,  facts speak  differently as follows : It is true that this guy is from  Morocco , but the Ministry of interior failed to mention  that this guy , with  a legal residence in the country, under the sponsorship of Mr. Mohammed Saied Tayeb ( a well-known Hijazi figure & reformer ) is a helper and and a special driver to , Mr.Issam Basrawi , who is a  well-known handicapped person and who without this guy's help & assistance would not be able to move any where , including going to bathroom.

In addition, other facts about the arrested- 8-men include the following: Mr. Suleiman Al-Roshodi , Mr. Issam Basrawi , Dr. Mosa Al-Garni , Dr. Abdul-Rahman Shumairy ,  and Al- Shareef  Saif-Aldeen Faisal Al-Shareef  were  among  the team of  lawyers   who defended the three " constitutional reformers " during their trials of 2004-2005 ; this true for the first two men (Al-Roshodi &, Basrawi  ) for the whole process of trials before and after the  verdict and up to  the release . As for the remaining three men (Al-Garni , Shumairy , and Al- Shareef  Saif-Aldeen ) it is true for their participating with the team  in  writing  collectively the " appeal defense " to the higher court   .


As for the real actions taken , or were  probably about to be taken , by the 8-men , that most likely moved   the Ministry of Interior to arrest them , and in a way to kill any serious  attempt to activate any democratic & political  reform's demand ,  some points deserve mentioning  ;

a- It is somehow understood , among some reformers in the country , especially the so-called " Constitutional Reformers " (  to  which  I & Dr.Al-Hamid belong  ) that some of the 8-men , and not all of them , and in a way to  concretely  push the democratic reform movement , were interacting & discussing , for a while , an  idea, revolving around , the plausibility & possibility  of  announcing  and creating  a somehow political forum ( party ) , but the arrests seem to Abort  the very idea itself  .


b- It is  also widely understood , among various reformers in Saudi Arabia , including the "  Constitutional Reformers " ( including  me & Dr. Al-Hamid ) ,  that some of the 8-men, and not all of them , were interacting & discussing between themselves and  with others , for a while , the idea of  concretely  pushing the democratic reform movement  as it relates to  protecting  human rights activists in Saudi Arabia  in case they were to be  harmed , or arrested  by Saudi Authorities  ,  through  announcing  and creating  a " Committee for the Protection of the Defenders of Public Liberties & Human Rights' Activists " . But the arrests seem to target Aborting the idea too.


c- - It is  also widely understood , and known as fact , not only among various reformers in Saudi Arabia , including the "  Constitutional Reformers " ( including  me & Dr. Al-Hamid ) ,  but also among several Saudi families concerned with their boys & sons being under arrest for long time  by Ministry of Interior  without charging & or turning them to trials ,   that some of the 8-men, and especially Mr. Suleiman Al-Roshodi , Mr. Issam Basrawi ,  and Dr. Mosa Al-Garni , were interacting & discussing between themselves and  with  several other lawyers  , for a while , the idea of  concretely  pushing the democratic reform movement , through  legally  compelling  Ministry of Interior  to turn all arrested persons to open and just trials . To implement this step the group of lawyers concerned here, including  some of the 8-men under consideration  , have  planned , after receiving powers of attorney ,  from over 40 Saudi  families ,  to represent their beloved-arrested ones , to take Ministry of Interior  to the " Diwan Madhalim " (  that is : Grievances Department/or Court ) . They were supposed to present the case against Ministry of Interior, formally to the ": Grievances Department/or Court) the morning day (Saturday; 02- Feb- 2007) that follows their night's arrests. To abort this action , Ministry of Interior , not only arrested them , but stormed their houses & offices , without any respect to any laws locally or internationally ,  and  confiscated  all"  powers of attorney " as well as  documents and  personal computers .



Accordingly, it is absolutely absurd that these 8- men under Arrest "are pro-terrorism". The  terrorist charge by Ministry Of Interior  is only  a cover-up  to hide the real reasons for the arrests which  are to suppress and kill any reform demands & advocates  under the pretext of fighting terrorists& terrorism  , so as to avoid any sympathy with them  , internally as well as internationally , especially  from human rights organization as well as western governments & public figures .By the way  the so-called "  Constitutional Reformers " ( including me , Dr, Al-Hamid , and Mr. Al-Dummani ) were accused publicly , too , by Ministry of Interior & its Public Attorney , during our trials(2004-2005) that we supported & justify violence & terrorism  , and the Saudi authorities , moreover, had tried to market this charge  against us  even to the UN-Commission on Human Rights , but eventually failed to substantiate  .


Final note , and as a matter of fact , and in  clear violations of Islamic laws as well as all human rights' conventions  , the 8-men , now for two consecutive months , have been  imprisoned incommunicado , and they have been unable to receive or to see their families as well as their lawyers , not to mention that  recently , Dr. Basim A-lim ,  their volunteer  lawyer,  , has been  added to the lists of  no travel   ) .

The  Dominating General Rule ,  here in Saudi Arabia , could be put as it follows : you can eat , and  you may  see  and/or hear  , but don’t speak up  , don’t criticize , don’t  write  or sign  collective petition & demands , don’t associate ,  and , why not , don’t travel . The consequent  result , I don’t need  to contemplate , but  I leave  it  to all or anyone  whom it may concern  .   

Best Regards.



***Matrook Alfaleh

Prof. of Political Science

College of Law & Political Science

King Saud University.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Issued: 02-04-2007








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