The three men who were arrested are not well-known activists but just regular people. They did not know one another. Each comes from a different region. It’s not some kind of organised campaign, but rather a personal act. Saudis are so fed up with the current situation that this kind of sentiment is no longer the exclusive province of the elite opposition. And yet, these isolated acts scare the authorities, as we can see from the fact that they arrested completely unknown individuals.
We announced the three men’s arrests on Saturday, after their families told us about their disappearance. We contacted the authorities to ask them where the men were being detained and why, but they refused to answer us.
These men may appear to be extremely brave for daring to post these videos without concealing their faces. But, in my opinion, it’s more an act of despair than courage. Going to prison doesn’t faze them anymore. Given the number of people that get arrested here for small and legitimate acts, like women driving despite the ban, going to jail is no longer shameful for families, as it was in the past. This is also why they show their identity cards and give their full names. It’s a way of saying “I don’t care, I’m not scared” and to go further than those who use fake names and conceal their faces when they rail against the royal family on social networks.
I think this type of video will lead to copycats. I don’t see this as representing a failure in attempts to organise large physical protests [several calls to mobilise, like the day for women to drive
, were not observed]. I think that instead of waiting for a majority to mobilise, those with something to say prefer to just say it immediately, with the tools they have at hand.