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Tunisia: Blog Declines Award Sponsored by Bahrain Government

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

Nawaat says no to its Bahrain government-sponsored blog award.

Nawaat says no to its Bahrain government-sponsored blog award.

Award-winning Tunisian blog Nawaat was awarded the Arab eContent Award of 2011, in the e-Inclusion and participation category. The Arab eContent is both organised and sponsored by the Bahraini government.

The team of Nawaat, a group blog which has been active is letting the world know about the Tunisian Uprising that toppled the dictatorship of Zain Al Abideen Ben Ali, has refused to attend the Bahrain IT Expo 2011 and receive the prize from Shaikh Mohammed Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s Deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of the Supreme Committee for Information Technology and Communications. The move comes in protest against the Bahraini government’s censorship practices, and the arrest of bloggers and human rights activists.

Nawaat issued the following statement, explaining why the team declined the award:

Since the eContent Award is officially sponsored by the Bahraini eGovernment Authority and since Nawaat’s position has always been to avoid any form of support from government organisations, we reject this award in protest against the Bahrain’s Internet filtering practices, the arrest of scores of bloggers and human rights activists and the arbitrary blocking of hundreds of websites and blogs that are critical of the Bahraini government and its ruling family.

Furthermore, the Bahraini eGovernment Authority is not in position to decide or accredit which website is eligible to win the Arab eContent Award 2011, especially under the e-Inclusion & Participation category. Bahrain’s internet freedom situation goes against the very principal of e-Inclusion & Participation.

The Tunileaks Project by Nawaat

In 2011, Nawaat was awarded the Reporters Without Borders Netizen Prize 2011 for their coverage of the Tunisian popular revolt from its early beginnings.The blog was also awarded the Index On Censorship New Media Award 2011 for their Tunileaks project, which “revealed the extent of the corruption deeply entrenched in many aspects of Tunisian life”, according to Index on Censorship. The Tunileaks project was inspired by Wikileaks.

On Twitter, Nawaat's decision not to accept the award was welcomed.

Haythem Elmekki, a Tunisian blogger and journalist tweets [fr]:

Respect aux gars de @nawaat qui ont refusé le e-Content Arab Award, offert par le gouvernement meurtrier et despotique du Bahreïn.

Respect for the Guys of Nawaat for refusing the e-Content Arab Award, offered by the murderous and despotic Bahraini government

Israeli Elizabeth Tsurkov adds:

Wow, I have so much respect for the @Nawaat team for rejecting this award!

Hasan Habib thanks the blog [ar]:

@nawaat من شعب البحرين… شكراً لكم شكراً لكم

From the people of Bahrain…thank you, thank you

And on Nawaat, the blog's announcement not to accept the award has attracted more than 300 comments so far.

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

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