I hear that there are about 500 of them here, and many Saudi officials — from advisers to the King to Members of the Shura Council — say that blogs are undermining official media and breaking up cartels of media control. They say that for the most part, the Kingdom is acquiescing to this, though incrementally.
Many Saudi government officials read blogs — and some even read The Washington Note on a regular basis.
I hear that Falsafat is one of the good blogs in Saudi political and social life. It’s in Arabic, and I can’t read it — but others have vouched for it. He has posted a provocative, somewhat disturbing, video treatment in response to the controversial Dutch film about Islam.
Also, many in government do think that the police may be feeling real social pressure to release the detained and as yet uncharged Saudi blogger Fuad al-Farhan. His detention was raised in many of my meetings here in Riyadh and Jeddah.
More on that later.
— Steve Clemons