- By David KennerDavid Kenner is the Middle East editor at Foreign Policy. He is based in Beirut, Lebanon, and has been with FP since 2009 (a long time, he knows). He worked for FP previously in Cairo, where he covered the early days of the Arab Spring, and before that in Washington. He has attended Georgetown University and the American University of Beirut and has reported from Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.
The House of Saud is living the dream. While most Middle Eastern regimes make up all sorts of excuses for throwing activists who raise inconvenient issues in jail — "endangering security" and "undermining national unity" are favorites — the Saudis are admirably honest. Mekhlef bin Daham al-Shammary, a prominent Saudi human rights activist who has been critical of the kingdom’s anti-Shiite policies, was jailed on the charge of "annoying others" on June 15.
No, the crime of annoyance does not appear to be written down anywhere in Saudi Arabia. The charges against Shammary may stem from an article he wrote rebuking another columnist for harsh attacks against the Iraqi Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
More than a month after his imprisonment, Shammary still has not been brought before a judge. If he ever is, one can only hope that he is impolite — perhaps even annoying.