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Wed 19 Oct 2011 12:16 PM

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Saudi detains trio behind YouTube poverty film

Saudis had produced a short film on cash-poor families in the wealthy Gulf state

Saudi detains trio behind YouTube poverty film
The three produced short films under the title We are Being Cheated

Saudi Arabia detained three men after they produced a short film on poverty in the kingdom, according to the Riyadh-based Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association.

Feras Baqna, Hussam al-Drewesh and Khaled al-Rasheed were detained on Oct 16 in Riyadh for questioning regarding the short film, the rights group said an emailed statement today, calling for the immediate release of the men.

The three Saudis produced short films under the title 'We are Being Cheated' and posted them on YouTube. Their latest posting was on poverty in al-Jaradeya, a neighbourhood of the kingdom’s capital, Riyadh. The film’s scenes, interviews and comments “are all considered familiar to the majority of Saudi society,” the rights group said.

Saudi Arabia, holder of 20 percent of the world’s oil reserves, issued new media regulations in April that enable the government to close or fine publications that hurt the kingdom’s stability or insult Islam. The regulations banned media from publishing anything that violates Islamic law, incites division and threatens internal security, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

King Abdullah countered domestic political unrest, inspired by the toppling of leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, with sweeping increases in government spending announced in March, including $67 billion on housing and funds for the military and religious groups.

“The Saudi government itself has acknowledged the poverty issue we’re facing,” the rights association said. “It is hard to understand how a film on poverty in Saudi Arabia poses a national threat to the safety of the country and its citizens.”

The Ministry of Interior’s public relations office didn’t answer calls seeking comment.

Saudi Arabia is the least democratic country in the Middle East and ranks 160th out of 167 countries worldwide, according to the Democracy Index for 2010 published by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

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opsecusa 8 years ago

Poverty in KSA? Say it ain't so, I thought it was the land of milk and honey.

procan 8 years ago

We have plenty of things in Canada to be ashamed of including our collective treatment of aboriginal people but arresting citzens who expose it is no way to treat the problem or the people.

Telcoguy 8 years ago

@procan, maybe you can learn a thing of two from the saudis then
@opsecusa, I am not sure if you were being as sarcastic as I am but yes, there is poverty in Saudi. This is not Qatar/UAE, if you ever need to do some business planning here you need to pay attention to wealth distribution.
I think Gini coefficient is higher for KSA than for brazil, meaning the gap between rich and poor is wider in KSA. You can check easily.