Friday, August 17, 2012

Democracy in Oman?

There has always been a culture of reverence for Sultan Qaboos amongst locals (and most expats) in Oman. Most see him as being a leader who can do no wrong. This veneer of perfection was cracked slightly last year when the Arab Spring arrived in Oman. Although the riots and protests were not directly aimed at the Sultan, the fact that he is the head of government and, to all intents and purposes, a dictator, meant that any criticism of the government was a criticism of him.

The door or dictatorship in Oman was cracked open and democracy was allowed to briefly raise its head in the form of  protest and free speech. The ability to criticise anyone within the bounds of slander or libel is a fundamental right of democracy.

Alas, the door has been firmly shut again ...

How sad that a country which has so much going for it, led by a leader who has done so much good for his people, cannot take that final step and allow the people to think and say what they will without fear of reprisal.

Look around at Oman these days and you see a brand new, shiny 21st century country. Scratch the surface and the old medieval one still lurks beneath.

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