Considering that Saudi Arabia has jailed bloggers on charges as dubious as “annoying others,” it’s no surprise that most of them post anonymously. But as of Jan. 1, they face pressure to use their real names, or risk being shut down, reports Fast Company. The government also ruled that “news bloggers” are subject to the same strict censorship as newspapers, including a ban against criticizing sharia law or “compromising public order.” The edict also says that only citizens over 20 are allowed to post news, which excludes the 31 per cent of foreign residents, plus youth—two groups that are most often disaffected. But Tariq al-Homayed, editor-in-chief of the royal-family-owned Asharq Alawsat newspaper, says the decision will reduce harmful rumours. “Anybody who wants to challenge the media is welcome to do so, so long as they do this under their real name,” he wrote.
Although Ahmed al-Omran fears the new rules will silence many bloggers, it hasn’t stopped him from posting on his blog, Saudi Jeans. “Today was a huge day for Tunisia,” he wrote on Jan. 15. “The only thing that annoyed me was that Saudi Arabia welcomed the ousted dictator. Here’s to a domino effect all over the Middle East.”