Monday, February 28, 2005

Beware of propaganda

As was to be expected the government propaganda machine was in full force with all the newspapers having the hard work of regurgitating the Ministry of Information's press statement: Bahraini arrested for inciting hatred and threatening to destabilise the country.


The above news piece is another example of poor journalism. Firstly, there was no tip-off. The Ministry of Interior has been building a case against BahrainOnline since 1998, and your clue is as good as mine as to the specific pieces of writing they are using as evidence. Whether they will use something written by Abdulemam directly or by the members is also unknown. Secondly, Ali Abdulemam did NOT admit to the charges - he did however, admit to owning and setting up the, but denied responsibility for what was written on there. He was shown a few articles that he had posted under his name (i'll try and find out which ones) and confirmed himself as the author.

He is facing the following charges which can carry a maximum life sentence:

1- المساس بالذات الملكية
2- التحريض على كراهية النظام.
3- نشر أخبار تزعزع الأمن الوطني.
4- مخالفة قانون النشر.
5- مخالفة قانون الأتصالات.

1. Questioning royal status
2. Inciting hatred against the regime
3. Spreading news that destabilises national security
4. Violating the press law
5. Violating the communication law

The pulse from the forum is that the majority of users feel responsible for Abdulemam's incarceration as he is taking the flack for what they write. Meanwhile registered members have gone up to 20,000. It is a known fact that the government agents have also tried to participate in the forum at times to sway debates. The government fails to realise that BahrainOnline cannot be closed down, it has only increased its popularity. There are another 30 moderators who now run the site. Will they go down too? Some of their names came up in the interrogation.

The government fails to realise that the internet is an information medium beyond their control. Arresting Abdulemam will severly backfire on the them and the so-called reforms. Protests have been organised and another martyr born. Im almost sure the Parliament will not raise this severe breach of freedom of expression and carry on with scaremongering the nation.

Yet another scene to the political play. This time are they serious or will another Royal decree save the day? Ladies and gentleman, the curtains have been drawn, welcome to Bahrain - the model of Arab democracy.

Mon Feb 28, 2005 12:48 PM GMT

MANAMA (Reuters) -

Bahraini police have detained a man who runs a Web site seen as critical of the Gulf Arab state's government and royal family, activists say

They said 27-year-old Ali Abdul-Imam, who runs, was held on Monday for allegedly stirring hatred against the government and spreading false news that could jeopardise state security

Officials were not immediately available to comment

The Web site, a forum where users often post views critical of the government and the royal family, has been banned by the government

It is blocked by Internet provider Bahrain Telecommunications, but it frequently changes its Web address to circumvent this

Bahrain, the Gulf's banking hub and home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, has introduced some reforms, but the opposition, led by the country's majority Shi'ite Muslims, want more rights in the Sunni-ruled island state

Posted by BB @ 2/28/2005 12:46:00 PM