No Exception for Oman

by Iman Said

After Cyclone Gonu

Just like the Gonu and Phet cyclones that hit the Sultanate in the last two years, corruption has united the Omani people once again. The protests that have spread all over the country turned into a huge campaign to ‘clean’ the country.

Yesterday I saw people holding placards on which they had written names of some of the corrupt officials in high positions. They were protesting peacefully and no riot police were involved. I felt very proud of the space of freedom that we have established in our beloved Oman. That is what I want for my country. That is what I want for my fellow countrymen.

Public opinion has been fluctuating because of what the Omani TV describes as vandalism. People came out with new slogans now: “No corruption…No vandalism”. However, one can never ignore the greater picture; a picture of Omani citizens expressing themselves with no fear.

I find it vital to clarify one point for the media, especially after the way they focused on the Sultan of Oman, as if that is what the Omani protests are all about. Omani people have expressed their devotion and love for Sultan Qaboos who led this country and whose achievements in the last 40 years need not be mentioned. Anyone who compares Oman of 2011 with Oman of 1970 will know that. In fact, right now and while I am writing this piece, the university students are gathering to express their loyalty to the Sultan. The protestors were very clear in their demands; better standards of living, more freedom, bringing some names to justice, taking part in the decision-making process.

We cannot deny the fact that what is going on right now in Oman is influenced in one way or another by the uprisings in the Arab world. However, every country is a special case. Omanis are known for their peacefulness and the protests caused some confusion. They are proud of their country’s safety and security and they do not want to ruin that. That is why some of them are against the protests. That attitude, I believe, reflects our culture. It is more like a legacy. That image of your country in front of the world that should not be smeared by your screams for justice is all that some people here care about. It is just like one’s own reputation in front of the people. What they do not know is that what they are doing is a kind of hypocrisy. It is as if you know that your child is sick but you do not want to admit it because you are afraid of what others would say. Admitting that you have a problem is one huge step toward solving it.

It is because of those who took the risk that we are witnessing today a turning point in our country’s contemporary history. Reforms are being made by His Majesty and things are going back to normal, not that protests disturbed that normality. It is just about time for the Arab peoples to be part of the decision-making process. Oman is part of this Arab nation, and there are no exceptions in democracy. That is of course if we are ready to start our own democratic nation, and if we care about what is going on around us in the Arab world.

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