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@Mujtahidd: Tweeting the Saudi Elite’s Secrets

For the past three months, an anonymous Twitter account - @Mujtahidd - has been tweeting remarkably well-informed revelations about those in power in Saudi Arabia. OWNI spoke with the anonymous whistleblower dubbed the 'Saudi WikiLeaks'.

by Rodolphe Baron On April 3, 2012

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With over 200,000 followers, many Saudis have already heard of @Mujtahidd. For more than three months, this anonymous Twitter account has been denouncing the lifestyles of those in power in Saudi Arabia. Tweet after tweet reveals details of backroom deals and conspiracies involving the ruling House of Saud, and their schemes with major Western capitals. The same Western capitals who have been more than accommodating of the al-Saud family’s religious fundamentalism. Influenced by the culture of WikiLeaks, and tracked on the web by the regime, @Mujtahidd’s revelations continue to increase. OWNI spoke with the mysterious whistleblower.

How would you present yourself? What is @Mujtahidd?

Mujtahidd is a symbol of an aggressive fight against filthy corruption. A fight which starts with exposure of those who are corrupt and ends with their removal. Mujtahidd does not need to declare his identity in order to achieve this goal. Indeed it may be an advantage to stay anonymous, for many reasons.

Your Twitter handle, @Mujtahidd, is that a reference to Mujtahid, one who makes a personal interpretation on a point of Islamic law?

Yes and no. Yes, it is the same spelling, and no, because it has another general  meaning. Mujtahid in Islam is the one who does his best to use Islamic reference in a committed, responsible manner to issue a fatwa. Mujtahid, in general, is the one who does his best with responsibility and sincerity in the issue he is dealing with. That is what I am doing with the knowledge I have. First, I do my best to verify the accuracy of my information. Second, I decide whether it can be published. Third, I decide how to publish it.

What’s your opinion of the leadership of Saudi Arabia, and their method of governing?

The country’s leadership is not interested in the country’s well-being. It is interested in its own authority and privilege. That is why all the country’s resources are at its service. That is also why the country is suffering from poverty, unemployment, crime, and social disintegration despite its massive resources.

Do you have specific examples to illustrate this description? What kind of privileges are you denouncing?

I have written thousands of tweets about this that I could translate for you. If you read them you would regard the kings of Europe during the Dark Ages as being filled with piety and frugality (in comparison). I’m refering to the al-Saud family. The al-Saud are treating the country as their property. The country, its resources, its identity, its history and its culture all belong to them.

Does the Saudi press do its job ? Or have they been corrupted too?

They are controlled by the regime. All of the Saudi press has attacked Mujtahidd. The regime decided to increase the margin of freedom (for traditional press) in order to dilute the role of the Internet and satellite TV.

On Twitter you have more than 280,000 followers. In what way does Twitter constitute a platform for denouncing the corruption and lifestyle of the Saudi leadership?

Twitter is a much easier and faster way to spread the message than other social networks. It is easier for your followers to become aware of your message. It is also easier to interact. Maybe its these advantages that make it efficient as a tool for the person with no resources to achieve what would otherwise require a propaganda institution.

You’re often compared to a kind of Saudi WikiLeaks. Why do you make these revelations? Why take such a risk ? Why you?

Because I have the information and I am capable of using it in an effective manner to get the result I mentioned above.

I notice you regularly attack Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahad. Is he worse than others ?

I started with him. In terms of financial corruption he is definitely the worst. He grew up when his father was entertaining absolute authority, before the days of opposition, satellite TV stations and the Internet. He had carte blanche to do anything he wanted without the least scrutiny.

Do you have personal knowledge of him, in order to be able to make such personal attacks?

Everything that I published about him, I know.

Do you wish for Saudi Arabia to go in the same democratic direction that Tunisia and Egypt have?

That is up to the people. They decide. But if the regime can bow to demands for reform, that is a much better scenario.

Do you think the current regime could ever accept such reforms?

The current regime is immune to any reform. It is irreformable. I know the structure of the royal family very well. The stronger members do not want reform. The potentially open members have no authority.

How do you think you are perceived by other Saudis?

One of my fans conducted a survey. The vast majority believe what I say, that I am sincere and acting for good reason. The majority believe that Mujtahid is a team led by a highly educated person. Only 12% of 10,000 people questioned say they do not believe me.

Are those in power attempting to silence you?

I have received financial offers to stop. If they could physically reach me they would have arrested me. My Twitter account and email is constantly under attack from attempted hackings. But the thing they’re doing all the time, is to use their agents on to make negative remarks about me on Twitter. It isn’t working though, and the survey is evidence of that.

Do Saudi citizens contact you on Twitter asking about the lifestyle of the leadership, or to give you information?

I recieve emails of all kinds – information, comments, questions, swearing..

In 2011, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal invested $300 million in Twitter. If they stop you from tweeting tomorrow, what would you do?

As far as I know this investment will change nothing in Twitter policy. If Twitter changes, another network will replace it.


Image Credits: ssoosay CC-BY

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