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Bahrain: Newspaper Suspended For A Day

On Monday, 22 June, Bahrain's oldest newspaper in circulation Akhbar Al Khaleej was suspended for the day after printing an article [Ar] critical of certain Iranian leaders and making reference to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's alleged Jewish origins. The move would seem to have been made to avoid provoking unrest amongst the Shi'a majority in Bahrain.

Yagoob was not pleased:

This comes as another blow to freedom of speech in Bahrain, after seeing a wide spread of web censorship with the aim of ‘a clean web’ which conveniently blocked everything from opposition websites, pornography, gambling, anti Islamic websites, web proxies and Google Translate, it seems that the ever enlongating arm of censorship has hit the mainstream media!

The strangest and most shocking thing about this ban is that it is Akhbar Al-Khaleej, a newspaper which is predominately pro-government. […] So what has this clawless kitten of a newspaper done to ruffle a few feathers in government?? Only time will tell but for now this is a very sad day in Bahrain history and its attempt in becoming a democratic country…

Mahmood also disagreed with the decision:

Not that I love Akhbar Al-Khaleej, nothing could be more remote from the truth, but my feeling for this decrepit paper, its publisher or some of its so called journalists is completely immaterial, but it should not have been banned under whatever reason given or withheld by whatever organ of government dictating this latest ban on freedom of speech. […] My sources tell me that the paper was banned due to a rather cutting article by the infamous Shura Council MP Ms. Sameera Rajab who is no stranger to controversy. She is loathed by a great swathe of people in Bahrain due to her background and rather critical writings especially about the Shi’a and their beliefs. It is also no secret that she detests the regime in Iran and has been very sympathetic to the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussain.

Regardless, banning a paper because of a column is a slap in the face of the freedom of information that the Ministry has been at pains to promote – rather paradoxically, especially that it has made it their professional hobby to block websites.

However, not all bloggers were unhappy with the suspension; Green Oasis was pleased:

تستحق الجريدة هذا الاغلاق لانها مشاركة في نشر هذه الاصوات النشاز [...] شكراً لوزارة الإعلام على الاغلاق
The newsaper deserves to be closed because it participates in publishing these discordant voices. [...] Thank you to the Ministry of Information for the closure.

Update: For Yagoob's perspective on how the suspension was lifted, see here.

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