PEN International calls on the Omani authorities to overturn the sentence of writer and intellectual Abdullah Habib. Habib, 53, was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 2000 Omani Rials (approx. US$2,600) on November 8,2016. He was convicted on charges including contempt of religion, spreading hatred and blasphemy, as well as using the internet to publish material that prejudice religious values or public order. His appeal is due to be heard on December 5, 2016.
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|Minister of Justice
Sheikh Abdul Malik bin Abdullah al-KhaliliMinistry of Justice
|Minister of the Interior
His Excellency Hamoud bin Faisal bin Said A_l Busaidi
|And copies to:
Chairman, Oman Human Rights Commission
It is recommended that you send a copy of your appeals via the diplomatic representative for Oman in your country. Contact details for embassies can be found here.
**Please contact the PEN office in London if sending appeals after December 6, 2016** Please keep us informed of any action you take in regard to Abdullah Habib’s case, including any responses you receive from the authorities.
PEN members are encouraged to:
Abdullah Habib is a prolific writer, poet, and film critic. He holds a PhD/ABD (2005) in Critical Film Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he has taught courses in “Third World Cinema”, and “Cinema and Social Change”. A member of the founding committee of cinema in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), he has also directed several short films, including “The Statue” and “This is Not a Pipe”, for which he received the Abu Dhabi Cultural Association Award in 1992. Habib has also published twelve books of poetry and short story collections. In 2013, Habib was honoured by the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council for his excellence in cultural production.
On the evening of April 15, 2016, the Omani Internal Security Service (ISS) summoned Habib to appear for investigation before the Special Division of the Omani Police General Command in Muscat. He was held in detention, without charge or access to his lawyer, until his release on May 3, 2016.
Prior to his arrest, Habib had posted a status on Facebook in which he called for the Omani government to reveal the location of the bodies of rebels executed during the Dhofar Rebellion, an insurgency which took place in the south of Oman between 1962-1976 (see RAN 09/16 for more details).
Upon his release, Habib posted an account of his experience in detention and expressed regret if his previous Facebook posts had caused any harm to Omani unity.
On July 11, 2016, Habib was reportedly arrested after he published comments and posts on his Facebook page during the month of Ramadan, relating to fasting and prayers in the Islamic faith. He was released on July 28.
On November 8, 2016, Habib was reportedly sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 2000 Omani Rials (approx. US$2,600), convicted on charges including contempt of religion, spreading hatred, blasphemy, and using the internet to publish material that prejudice religious values or public order. His appeal is expected to be heard on December 5, 2016.