News updates on human rights issues in Oman
– Mansour al-Mehrazi:
Continuation of the trial of writer Mansour al-Mehrazi for his book Oman in the Square of Corruption, 2016. The book is not available on the market, and was withdrawn by the author because of typographical errors; however, the Omani Public Prosecution obtained a copy. Although it was claimed that the lawsuit against al-Mehrazi was due to a complaint by a citizen who bought the book from a Gulf book fair, when al-Mehrazi’s lawyer asked the judge in charge of the hearing, Judge Yusuf al-Feliti, to call the citizen concerned as a witness, he refused. Al-Faliti subsequently sentenced al-Mehrazi to three years in prison and a fine of RO500 ($1,300), with bail set at RO2,000 ($5,200).
– Abdullah Habib:
Film critic and writer Abdullah Habib was arrested and tried for publishing criticisms of certain Islamic practices. Abdullah was sentenced on 8 November 2016 to three years in prison and a fine of RO2,000 ($5,200), with bail set at RO1,000 ($2,600) in case of appeal. He faced charges relating to contempt of religion, spreading hatred, and blasphemy, as well as under Article 19 of the Cybercrime Law with regard to the use of information technology in a manner prejudicial to public order in Oman. However the appeals hearings have not yet ended but remain adjourned.
– Hassan al-Basham:
Al-Basham was accused of open blasphemy and insulting the ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos, because of Facebook posts in which he talked about atheism. The Supreme Court subsequently, on 17 January 2017, quashed the verdict of the Court of Appeal and ordered a retrial, but it keeps being adjourned.
– Mowatin magazine’s website:
In May 2017, Mowatin online magazine celebrated its return to publication, but then to its surprise the editorial team received reports from inside Oman that its website had been blocked. The site continues to be blocked by the Omani authorities.