15 April, 2007

Support for Mahmood.tv

Bahraini journalists plan to gather at Bahrain's High Criminal Court on Tuesday 17th April to protest the libel case brought against Mahmood Al-Yousif by government minister Mansour bin Rajab.

Mahmood criticised bin Rajab and his department's response to heavy December rains that caused flooding. The minister claims his "feelings are hurt".

This is a stark reminder that the privileges of freedom of speech that many of us enjoy back home in the West are not available in this region. In properly democratic systems of government, criticism of the government and government figures is expected and necessary for the democratic process. According to the UAE Publications Law, such criticism is illegal. In Bahrain, and in the wider Gulf, one can face heavy fines and lengthy jail sentences:

Article 70

No criticism shall be made against the Head of State or Rulers of the Emirates

Article 84

It is prohibited to malign a public official, or anybody occupying a post in the public prosecution, or assigned to perform a public job. The writer shall not be held responsible if he proves he did so in good faith.

Mahmood, who has pioneered blogging in the Gulf and been nominated for many awards, has suffered various threats during his years in the blogosphere. His blog was blocked for some time last year.

Anyone wanting to support him and the cause of greater freedom of speech is encouraged to write about his case, or should you be in Manama this week, to show up at his trial.


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Absology said...

In all honesty I wish I were in Bahrain to attend the trial..and throw tomatos at him..

i, Bobo said...

That's just wrong -- saying Mansour bin Rajab is "stupid" and a "brainfart" for his department's tremendous effort in responding to the flooding. It's like that horrible Egyptian blogger, the one who got thrown in jail for writing "Hosni Mubarak is a dictator" on his blog.

Some people have no sensibility. These type of people need serious rules, they need structured guidelines. More than anything else, though -- they need strong leadership, a leadership that will stop rampant inflation, build up the armed forces, and eventually invade Poland...

Anonymous said...

i,bobo you forgot the [sarcasm] [/sarcasm] tags :p

Unknown said...

They ought to throw that 'feelings' guy in the slammer for claiming to be hurt.

Mahmood, not!

Anonymous said...

Article 70 needs to be amended.
nothing is forbidden.

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