Authorities block access to influential blog covering Bandargate scandal

30 Oct, '06

Access to one of Bahrain’s most influential blogs, http://mahmood.tv, which openly criticises government and parliament members and has of late being covering the “Bandargate” scandal currently shaking the country, was blocked yesterday.

The blog’s author, Mahmood Al-Yousif, has nonetheless managed to move it to a new address, http://alyousif.tv/, which has not yet been blocked. The authorities already blocked several news websites on 26 October in a wave of censorship taking place less than a month before parliamentary elections.

In RSF’s latest ranking of press freedom, Bahrein was ranked 111th out of 168 countries.
Reporters sans frontieres 30 Oct, ’06

Filed in: Human Rights
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Comments (11)

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  1. nomadicarab says:

    mahmood,

    i love the red cover on your mouth – nice touch! stay strong buddy, and keep up the good work. we bahrainis in the states look to you for local news more than we do our local papers. we admire your strength and courage and support you 100%.

    cheers,
    nomad

  2. can we talk now says:

    Mahmood
    I havn’t been on the internet for two days and I come back to this!!
    I’m in shock!! don’t these people have a clue? don’t they understand that information is not controllable anymore? that those days are over? that we can never ever go back to ignorance?
    once people have tasted freedom, they will never ever give it up

    being abroad, you are my first source of information while I’m here, because the local press is just not trustworthy to give the whole picture.

    you are an inspiration to so many people. we are very proud of you. it’s a weary road but you are way way ahead of them.. best of luck

  3. someone says:

    had this for a while, am now releasing it as time sounds correct, given the current circumstances:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Foreign Media Affairs, Kingdom of Bahrain
    To: XXXXXXXXXXX
    Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2005 1:49 AM
    Subject: Bahrain

    18 August 2005

    Private and confidential

    Dear XX XXXXXX,

    I am writing to you because the Foreign Media Affairs of the Kingdom of bahrain would like to develop a dialogue with the XXXXX, to discuss issues related to blogs and the internet more generally. We welcome the opportunity for an exchange of views and in this regard we would like to express out concern at your recent post Top Five Most Dangerous Places to Blog which links to another post you have written on Anonymous Blogging stating that you are to ‘target’ Bahrain.

    We do not consider it appropriate to include Bahrain on any such list for the simple reason that no one in the Kingdom has faced any government action or threats of action over a blog. Using the term ‘dangerous’ implies that bloggers face the potential of harm coming to them, when the reality is completely different and cannot in any way be compared with the other countries you have listed in your ‘Top Five’, where for writing on blogs people may have faced threats, been arrested, tortured, held indefinitely in custody or even killed. It is therefore not just inappropriate to use the term ‘dangerous’, but reckless in its arbitrariness.

    Bahrain has a lively blogging scene both in English and Arabic, with individuals blogging both anonymously and using their real names. A whole spectrum of political opinions are expressed, ranging from the extremist religious Right to support for the government. We are aware that many of the blogs express strong criticism of government policies, officials, MPs, and other prominent personalities in the Kingdom. The free expression of opinion in considered normal and beneficial, and no one has faced prosecution, harassment or any action in connection with anything they have written or anyone else has posted on a blog.

    In fact rather than persecute bloggers the government has been listening to their views and the views expressed on their blogs. For instance, I would refer you to a recent post by Mahmood Al Yousif of Mahmood’s Den, who writes:

    I know for a fact that the government has woken up to the unpopularity of
    some of its decisions, the least of which of course is the Ministry of
    Information’s administrative order requiring the registration of
    websites. I know too from a well-placed source that the government has nixed it.
    They’re probably trying to find a face-saving gesture to announce it. I highly
    encourage them to do that as soon as possible to counter the wealth of
    bad news we have had over the past few months. This will show the world that
    we do in fact have a democracy (regardless of how small it is and how dumb
    down people think it is, the essence is that we CAN speak, as we have been
    doing in all of our blogs) and through democracy the government has listened to
    our voices through which we expressed our dissatisfaction with an order
    such as that, and it has now responded to the people, as any democratic
    society should.

    (http://www.mahmood.tv/index.php?module=comments&func=display&cid=17419)

    A religious extremist, Ali Abdulemam, was briefly detained six months ago but this was not related to the blog he intermittently posted on, but was with regard to the incitement on the Bahrainonline website which he manages. The fact that he had a blog is completely irrelevant to his arrest, and thus it is inappropriate to describe this man as a ‘threatened blogger’. It should be noted that because of the multicultural nature of Bahraini society, the government does not accept sectarian incitement and incitement to violence.

    We are committed to building a dialogue with the XXXXX and look forward to a positive relationship.

    Assuring you of the highest consideration.

    Yours sincerely,

    Khalifa bin Abdullah Al Khalifa
    Assistant Undersecretary for Foreign Media Affairs

    Foreign Media Affairs
    Ministry of Information
    PO Box 253
    Isa Town
    Kingdom of Bahrain
    Tel: +973 17684222
    Fax: +973 17781400
    Email: formedia@batelco.com.bh

  4. anony says:

    Hi, you are using the national flag in your website banner, don’t you know it is illegal?
    ديرة مسكرة والله

  5. mahmood says:

    Thanks for sharing that ‘someone‘… how times have changed. Rather sad, don’t you think?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Interesting article on the US Embassy website about how much progress Bahrain has made in reforms and human rights. Their information is here if anyone is interested:

    Contact
    Embassy of the United States of America
    Bldg 979, Road 3119, Block 331, Zinj
    Kingdom of Bahrain
    Tel: (973)1724-2700
    Fax: (973)1727-0547

    Consular Office
    Tel: (973)1724-2740
    Fax: (973) 1725-6242
    Email: ManamaConsular@state.gov

    Public Affairs Office
    Tel: (973) 1727-6180
    Fax: (973) 1727-0547

    Also please don’t forget the State Department and, gasp…the White House. Plenty of blogs in the US who would love this story as well as many newspaper editors. Sure have my work cut out for me.

    Thanks to everyone for their support of Mahmood. Everyone should now understand why political activism is so very important. Doesn’t mean you have to run for office (would be nice), but you do need your voice heard because that is what these people fear and why they work so hard to squash free speech.

    Mahmood, you know the lay of the land better than us, but I find it hard to believe someone did this all on their own without “a higher authority” giving the OK. Too bad cause if they had any smarts they would understand their power really increases when people are free and contributing for the benefit of all. The fight is yours to win or lose, but no one would blame you for having your bags packed. Stay safe.

  7. Ali says:

    its days and moments like these that make me ashamed to be Bahraini… on the other hand, the way you responsed to this Mahmood, and the other bloggers, restores that lost pride.

    we are not lesser beings. we are not fools. we are people who deserve a little more respect. and you showed them how to get it.

    we’re all behind you
    keep blogging

  8. bahraini4eva says:

    I would like to join nomadic arab in extending my 100% support for you at this very difficult and critical time in which people like you are fighting for freedom of speech and information, and giving hope to Bahrainis, Gulf nationals, and all people around the world who live under such backward-thinking gov’ts to fight for our God-given rights. May God Bless you Mahmood, and Please continue to blog as we all turn to you as a very solid and reliable source for news updates in Bahrain, the Gulf and the world.

  9. can we talk now says:

    it is ironic that, as far as i can see, your blog has never been as busy as it has been in the last few hours, and you have already made several posts today, which isn’t usually the case.

    this is what happens as a result of opression. people speak up and speak out more than before. there is much more to say. let that be a lesson to the idiots that be..

  10. frederik says:

    Hi Mahmood,

    You also got support from your Belgian blogfriends Cain and others, check this:

    http://standaard.typepad.com/en_nu_even_elders/2006/10/mahmood_geblokt.html#reacties

    http://www.zattevrienden.be/sfw/mahmood_moet_zijn_smoelwerk_houden

    http://wadda.zattevrienden.be/mahmood

    http://www.mediabom.be/nl/node/1049

    Also technical support will be given by our friend Cain from Realroot if you want to take the offer 🙂

    Cheers,

    Frederik

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