Twitter police: Saudis punish 'wealthy lawbreakers' on social media

Twitter police: Saudis punish 'wealthy lawbreakers' on social media
Activists from Red Sea city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, have taken to Twitter in a Robin Hood-esque quest to hold the rich to account for encroaching on public property.
2 min read
07 Jan, 2016
Palaces of rich and powerful Saudis have been exposed for encroaching on roads [Twitter]
After Saudi activists on social media platform Twitter successfully got the attention of Jeddah's municipality to crackdown on a building violation by a wealthy businessman in a main street of the city, they began an organised campaign to find other violations against public roads and property.

The latest of the violators caught by the Twitter "detectives" was an owner of a major hospital in Saudi Arabia, who recently mocked Saudis as "spoiled brats" for objecting to fuel price hikes.

The activists took pictures of his mansion, whose yard cuts into a public service road.

Using a hashtag that translates as "Enough spoiled brats", they launched a campaign to successfully pressure the authorities in Jeddah to remove the violation.

It did not stop there. The activists took their campaign to other wealthy individuals flouting the law, and say they will continue their campaign to expose all violations of public property by powerful businessmen.

Inevitably, some have accused the activists of "envy" for targetting wealthy individuals, and there was criticism from some clerics, including from former imam of the Grand Mosque Adel al-Kalbani.

Abdul-Aziz al-Hadlaq, journalist, disagreed. "Encroaching on roads and annexing them to palaces is corruption...Twitter activists are the strongest front against corrpution," he wrote.

Meanwhile, Ali al-Lazzam, a Saudi on Twitter, wrote: "Why do rumours particularly affect the Jeddah?" in reference to allegations of corruption circling the municipalities authorities there.

Palace allegedly encroaches on public road