This jail is so cosy!

Brian Whitaker has a funny story about how Saudi Arabia had broadcast a documentary about its most famous jail to convince Islamist rebels to turn themselves in:

"I swear to God, they [the jailers] are nicer than our parents," said Othman al-Amri, once No 21 on the kingdom's list of most-wanted terror suspects.


The programme, broadcast on Saudi television late on Monday, included brief footage from inside the jail, showing clean facilities and beds lined next to one another.


It signalled a new effort by the authorities to encourage militants to give themselves up and to allay suspicions that they would be ill treated if they did so. But persuading them to opt for al-Haer may prove difficult.


In September at least 67 prisoners died and 20 others were injured, along with three guards, when fire swept through part of the jail.


I think they might not be so easily convinced.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.