Omani Writer Abdulla Habib Arrested and Detained, Possibly for Facebook Posts

Omani writer Abdulla Habib, who said at the 2014 Muscat International Book Fair, “Young writers today have huge potential and a great platform in social media,” was arrested and detained six days ago, on April 15, apparently for Facebook posts:

Abdallah_HabibAt the time, two years ago, Habib told the Oman Daily Observer that he didn’t have a presence on social media, because “I am too much of a private person.”

But now, according to Middle East Eye, and a campaign started to “Release Abdulla Habib Now,” Omani authorities have arrested and detained Habib, who the MEE called “one of the country’s leading intellectual figures and activists.”

Habib was reportedly called to attend Omani intelligence offices around 5 p.m. on April 15, and has been detained since then and he has not been in touch with his family, according to what Nabhan Hanashi, head of the UK-based Monitor of Human Rights in Oman, told MEE.

A post in the “Release Abdulla Habib Now” group notes that Habib has published nine books of poetry and short story collections, as well as a novel titled Seaweed. He is particularly known for his work in film and film criticism, and has translated writing on film including Robert Bresson’s Notes on Cinematography. 

He has won several awards, including the Abu Dhabi Cultural Association Award in 1992 (for his film This is Not a Pipe), the 2010 Best Omani Critical Publication of the Omani Writers Society, the 2011 Award for Outstanding Cultural Achievement in Oman by the Initiative of Reading is Light and Foresight. And in 2013, the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council award for excellence in cultural production.

This is the first time Habib has been arrested and MEE reports that “Hanashi said he believes the writer’s detention could be in relation to a series of Facebook posts he wrote regarding a rebellion in Oman that took place in the 1960s and 1970s.”

From MEE:

Prior to his arrest, between 13 and 15 April Habib wrote on Facebook that Oman’s ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Busaidi must reveal the whereabouts of those killed in the Dhofar Rebellion.

MEE has more background about the Dhofar Rebellion and Habib’s posts.

To stay up to date with Habib’s whereabouts and case, follow the Facebook group dedicated to his release.