Websites ‘shut without notice’

24 Nov, '05

FORTY websites were allegedly shut down this week by the Information Ministry without warning or prior notice, Bahraini webmasters claimed yesterday. They include a number of popular Bahraini websites regularly visited by surfers for political developments in the kingdom.

They include www.montadayat.org, which was closed permanently on Monday after being closed on Friday and reopened 24 hours later.

It was among 40 other small websites closed on the same day without any official notice from the ministry, said a montadayat spokesman, who did not wish to be named.

They include other popular websites operated from villages such as www.duraz.net and jidhafs.cjb.net.

The spokesman said webmasters still do not know why their websites have been shut down.

In April, the ministry launched a six-month campaign to register all Bahraini websites.

It said all webmasters should register their sites, but stressed that it would not actively pursue them.

The ministry said no one would face prosecution merely for failing to register.

“There are 15,000 Bahraini websites and only 100 are registered with the ministry,” the montadayat spokesman said.

“It is obvious that because our website is well-known, it has been shut down while other unofficial websites are still online.”

He said there were no definite rules governing the work of websites in the kingdom.

He said their website was not promoting anything wrong or using bad words.

“Anyone who does it we immediately block them, because it is our responsibility to protect our reputation and the continuation of our website,” he said.

“The website talks about Bahrain, the good and the bad, nothing more.”

The spokesman stressed it was silly to close the villages’ websites, which featured discussions on issues related to their areas.

“www.duraz.net officials called me when their website was shut down and said that it did not contain anything against the government and only talked about issues concerning their village,” he said.

“There should be a stand against the ministry, which is taking actions based on personal decisions rather than in accordance with the law.”

A Bahraini moderator of an online discussion forum and two web technicians were detained on charges of defaming the government and spreading hatred in the region.

The Bahrainonline.com trio were released on the directives of His Majesty King Hamad.

Ministry Under-Secretary Mahmood Al Mahmood said he was not aware of any ban but will investigate the issue when he gets back to work on Saturday.
GDN :: Mohammed Al-A’ali :: 24 Nov 2005

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