Editorial: ‘Abu Sin’ deserves a tryout, not a trial!

A YouTube grab of ‘Abu Sin’.
Updated 02 October 2016

Editorial: ‘Abu Sin’ deserves a tryout, not a trial!

It is not surprising that the curious case of Saudi teenager “Abu Sin” has generated global news headlines, particularly that despite it being a few days since his arrest, only a few people — if any — seem to know what exactly was it that he did which was illegal!
If you are unaware of the story, here are the details: A bubbly and incredibly entertaining young Saudi, known by the nickname of “Abu Sin” (which means “toothless”), was arrested on charges of “unethical behavior” after appearing in online video exchanges with 21-year-old American vlogger, Christina Crockett.
Police claimed the videos were “enticing” and invited “negative attention” from viewers around the world.
The humorous exchanges between the two show them battling to communicate despite geographical, cultural and language barriers (Christina doesn’t speak Arabic, Abu Sin doesn’t speak English!). The clips were originally shown live on social streaming live site, You Now, and are now available on a vast array of news and video sites, including YouTube.
In one of the exchanges, Abu Sin performs a funny dance invoking the laughter of his friends, and in another, he dons a traditional Saudi headdress and sings Christina a love song before — jokingly or not — asking her to marry him.
Col. Fawaz Al-Mayman, a spokesperson for Riyadh police, said Abu Sin was arrested for “unethical behavior.”
“His videos received many comments and many of the commenters of the general public demanded he be punished for his actions,” he added, according to the Saudi Gazette.
Undoubtedly some people around the globe will be shocked at the causes of Abu Sin’s arrest, as to most people — including most Saudis — his actions are regarded as nothing more than an innocent, playful exchange between two youngsters.
Meanwhile, his case has gained momentum within the Kingdom itself. There currently are opposing social views sparring over whether or not Abu Sin deserves to be sent to trial “for his silliness which made people laugh (at us).”
Of course, not everyone believes Abu Sin was silly … and even if he was, when did being “silly” ever become a crime?
Furthermore, sadly there are those who believe it is a good thing that Abu Sin is currently behind bars, arguing that it is probably the safest place for him to be after upsetting ultra-conservative members of society, who may opt to take justice into their own hands!
This by far is the worst justification that could ever be given. Those who hold such an awful view must carefully remember that they are wrongfully implying that the Kingdom suffers from a lawless society, whereby bullies and thugs must be feared and respected … this is simply and categorically NOT TRUE.

A legal grey area

Yes, there are media laws in Saudi Arabia which prohibit public incitement and obscenity, and at the end of the day everyone — without exception — must respect and abide by the laws of the land. However, while the authorities rightfully pursue hate preachers who propagate terrorist ideas which result in crimes, it would be wise for room to be made for legally questionable situations like this, where there is no clear case … nor a proven, direct harm to anyone.
Unfortunately, Abu Sin has fallen within a legal grey area which recent leaps in communication technology has created. In a way, he is no different than other victims of social media posts who had not intended to cause harm.
On this front, Saudi Arabia is not unique and courts in countries like the US and UK are full of lawsuits against people who innocently posted material but ended up being sued for libel or causing public distress.
Of course, while nobody can prevent lawsuits being filed, it is not necessarily that they are heard, or that the accused are necessarily found guilty.
Yet, one thing that raises serious concerns in the Col. Al-Mayman quotes, which the Saudi Gazette carried, was where he implied that “Abu Sin” was arrested based on demands of public opinion.
If this is the case, then let it be known that this published opinion believes Abu Sin should be released … and given his own television show!

Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished

Updated 16 May 2019

Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished

  • Arab News argues that while war is always a last resort, an international response is a must to curb Iranian meddling
  • US strikes worked well when Assad used chemical weapons against his people

The attacks on Tuesday by armed drones on Saudi oil-pumping stations, and two days beforehand on oil tankers off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE, represent a serious escalation on the part of Iran and its proxies, should the initial conclusions of an international investigation prove to be accurate. 

Riyadh has constantly warned world leaders of the dangers that Iran poses, not only to Saudi Arabia and the region, but also to the entire world. This is something former President Obama did not realize until the Iran-backed Houthis attacked the US Navy three times in late 2016. The recent attacks on oil tankers and oil pipelines were aimed at subverting the world economy by hitting directly at the lifeline of today’s world of commerce. Tehran should not get away with any more intimidation, or be allowed to threaten global stability. 

It was in 2008 that the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz called upon the US to “cut off the head of the snake,” in reference to the malign activities of Iran. Nearly a decade later, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman referred to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the “new Hitler of the Middle East.” We are in 2019 and Iran continues to wreak havoc in the region, both directly and through its well armed proxies. Crown Prince Mohammed was therefore clearly correct when he argued that appeasement does not work with the Iranian regime, just as it did not work with Hitler. The next logical step — in this newspaper’s view — should be surgical strikes. The US has set a precedent, and it had a telling effect: The Trump strikes on Syria when the Assad regime used Sarin gas against its people.

We argue this because it is clear that sanctions are not sending the right message. If the Iranian regime were not too used to getting away with their crimes, they would have taken up the offer from President Trump to get on the phone and call him in order to reach a deal that would be in the best interests of the Iranian people themselves. As the two recent attacks indicate, the Iranians insist on disrupting the flow of energy around the world, putting the lives of babies in incubators at risk, threatening hospitals and airports, attacking civilian ships and putting innocent lives in danger. As the case always is with the Iranian leadership, they bury their heads in the sand and pretend that they have done nothing. Nevertheless, investigations indicate that they were behind the attack on our brothers in the UAE while their Houthi militias targeted the Saudi pipelines.

Our point of view is that they must be hit hard. They need to be shown that the circumstances are now different. We call for a decisive, punitive reaction to what happened so that Iran knows that every single move they make will have consequences. The time has come for Iran not only to curb its nuclear weapon ambitions — again in the world’s interest — but also for the world to ensure that they do not have the means to support their terror networks across the region. 

We respect the wise and calm approach of politicians and diplomats calling for investigations to be completed and all other options to be exhausted before heading to war. In the considered view of this newspaper, there has to be deterrent and punitive action in order for Iran to know that no sinister act will go unpunished; that action, in our opinion, should be a calculated surgical strike.