Good morning everyone. I returned to Oman late last week to learn about the now internationally picked up story about the weekly tabloid, The Week's August 29th Article, The Outsiders (linked to here, if you're easily offended.... dont read it - thanks to Oman Coast for hosting the article). Personally I thought it was a well-written and balanced article, it appears many did not.
Anyone that has lived here in the Sultanate would not be surprised to learn that there are homosexual people that live here, and if they are, then they're possibly living very sheltered lives. In a society such as the one here in Oman, it is officially not tolerated. This has been reinforced by the news last Thursday that the Government of Oman is actually suing the editor-in-chief, Sameer Zakwani, and the article's author, who had not been named.
Rumour has it that the author was an Indian journalist, who has since legged it back home - wise move. I've also heard the author is Omani, it's hard to get the details given the obvious attention it's been getting.
It's disappointing to see this sort of reaction from the Government, but hardly surprising. The Sultanate has little choice but to enforce it's laws (regardless of whether people agree with them or not) because what's the alternative? Be the Muslim state that tolerates homosexuals? I couldn't care less what peoples sexual orientation is, and to be frank, I suspect most people don't care either. But this front page news story from the nations largest English language weekly may been a bit ill-conceived.
Presumably in an effort to actually do a bit of journalism, and report on the reality that is here in Oman, The Week were looking for a big story and it's back fired. Last weeks edition was scrapped, and it's not clear how long the ban on The Week will last. I'm sure we'll see them back to business soon.
I say ill-conceived because by throwing a big spot-light on this, it has only served to poke the beast, and I suspect now all other journalists will be in fear about writing anything slightly controversial. I suspect we'll see lots of fluff about the weather and how fabulous everything is. Did you know that the Sultanate of Oman has the world's 3rd best roads? Neither did I, shame the author didn't chose to highlight the fact that people continue to drive like idiots here then (front page of today's Oman Observer).
More very soon!