Why isn't there more public outrage about these blatant violations of the right to peacefully and freely express one's opinions? Certainly a great contributor to this inertia is fear of the long and oppressive arm of the state. But there is more to it. The following is statement by Tarek, left as a comment to one of Fares' post:
وهكذا تغيب المسؤولية تجاه أفراد المجتمع الآخرين، فعلى سبيل المثال إن السجناء السياسيين في البلدان العربية ضحوا بأنفسهم من أجل الشعب ولكن الشعب نفسه يضحي بأولئك الأفراد المناضلين الشجعان، فلم نسمع باحتجاج أو إضراب عام يقوم به عامة الناس في المجتمع من أجل السجناء السياسيين، لأن الناس يتصرفون مع قضية السجين السياسي على أساس أنها قضية فردية. إن ذلك من أخطر مظاهر عدم الشعور بالمسؤولية.
Translation: There is a lack of responsibility towards other members of society. For example, political prisoners in Arab countries sacrifice themselves for the people, but the people, in turn, sacrifice these courageous activists. We rarely hear about public demonstrations or general strikes for political prisoners because people behave with regard to the issue of political prisoners as if it was a isolated, personal matter. This is one of the most dangerous manifestations of this lack of feeling of responsibility.
I think there is certainly some truth to that. In societies where corruption is rampant and the rule of law is applied capriciously, economic survival is a constant struggle usually won by those who are willing to bribe and cheat their way to the top. This survival of the fittest mentality promotes self-preservation above any greater societal needs. Those who profit from oppressive regimes are free-wheeling businessmen with connections in the Presidential palace but also lowly, and well connected, government employees. To people who have "made it" in such societies, a person like a Kamal Labwani or a Michel Kilo must seem like unreasonable trouble makers. For them, the status quo is golden.
(Painting: Speak no evil, Jeffrey Freedner, 1995)