Unblocked!

Not yet, but I am informed by a highly reliable source that Mahmood’s Den is to be unblocked!

I wish to thank each and every one of you who expressed support in any way, shape or form. I wish to expressly thank Mohammed and Esra’a for taking it upon themselves to establish sites and petitiona, and HAMSA for their efforts too, and the various human rights organisations as well as news reporters who have written about this subject. Your efforts have not been in vain.

I hope that this would have demonstrated to the Bahraini authorities that restricting access to information is not the best policy to pursue.

Let me also confirm that I have made some concessions to in order to lift the ban on the site; specifically, I have heeded the “gag order” issued by the High Court published on the 5th of October, 2006 restricting comments and further discussion specifically dealing with their case against Dr. Salah Al-Bandar. I have therefore temporarily removed four articles published in this stream which are held in a queue unavailable to site visitors. These articles will be re-published at the expiry of that gag order. All attendant comments on those articles are also unfortunately sequestered with their parent articles.

All articles and comments published prior to the gag order remain in place.

Based on this and our discussions, the Ministry of Information has agreed to lift the block on Mahmood’s Den and cancel the pending court case.

Finally, I wish to thank the Ministry of Information for the civilized way in which it held constructive meetings with me and listened to my points of view, as I valued theirs, and hope that this incident will result in a more constructive relationship between us bloggers and the Ministry.

I am truly humbled by the tremendous support and love you have demonstrated to me. This now places even more of a burden on my shoulders to be more responsible in my approach to this blog, and these feeling have also demonstrated to me how much bigger than a single person this Den has become which has grown to be a large community of friends and colleagues which I am truly privileged to belong to.

The block should be removed in the next couple of days.

Thank you all once again for your unstinting support.

46 thoughts on “Unblocked!”

  1. Pingback: SaudiSphere
  2. Great to see the voice of the people can be heard. Sucks about the gag order but it is “court” matter and certain authorities should be respected.

    Either way their banning of you has created a stir and will generate more discussion and openess in these matters and other concerning the freedom of speech in Bahrain.

  3. While I understand your relief, it sounds a bit like this:
    Authorities: You are not allowed to talk about bandergate.
    Mahmood: This is undemocratic. I’m going to talk about it anyways.
    A: We’re blocking your site. Threatening with legal actions. etc.
    M: OMG!!!
    Frentic movement around follows.
    A: Remove all discussions about bandergate and don’t raise it again.
    M: Ok. Relief. We sent a message.

    Contrast and compare to:
    A: You are not allowed to talk about bandergate.
    M: Ok, I won’t from now on.

    I’m sure that SOME message was sent across. In a way, however, the end result in the two scenarios is the same.

    I’m not saying you acted wrong. I’m just saying things are not all pink.

    Shachar

  4. Mahmood,

    These suggestions are good. They treat some ills. But fail to treat the root cause of all ills. By that I mean the Law of Journalism, Printing and Publishing – 47/2002.

    I fail to appreciate why we should not have a Freedom of Press Law, which substantially resembles that of say Denmark, a constitutional moarchy itself – http://www.freedominfo.org/countries/denmark.htm. As a self-proclaimed constitutional monarchy and not a republic, Bahrain law governing press should reseble that of say Denmark rather than that of Egypt or Tunis.

    Until such time, it is not only available for the Bahraini public, government (the DPP in particular), and, courts to interpret the existing press law in line with Law No.56/2006 (effective 17/8/2006). These must do so pursuant to the said law. Article No. 19 allows the state to restrict freedom of press but only in ways evidently necessary for preserving National Security, Public Order, Public Health, or Public Morale. And for protecting rights of others or their reputation.

    The prevailing interpretation and application of existing press law evidently runs in the opposit direction.

  5. Hi Mahmood,

    Well done on this resolution. Those who have not lived in Bahrain may not understand the careful brinkmanship that is required to make steady and sustainable progress. I for one am relieved that you took this stance with the Ministry and did not (not that you would) become a ‘Blog Martyr’. It’s important that they understand that this blog is popular because it takes a balanced, intelligent view, reflected in the resolution you managed to achieve. Onwards and upwards…

  6. Congrats on the eminent unblock .. If you need another page to host the ‘bandergate articles’ you can have domains/mirrors from your bloggers from across the pond.

  7. I am pleased for you Mahmood I think you have taken a pragmatic decision.
    The issue has been raised and we hope it will not be forgotten.
    I trust others will realise you are blogging not waging a “crusade” against the authorities.

  8. Take-off your mask and revel your true face! After the thank-you message to the MOI, are we expecting a 180 degree change? And, why don’t you change the banner with a new one that includes your website’s MOI registeration number? I bet it’s a nice number!

  9. Thanks for your support Salam! The mask will be removed only when I can access the “proper” site.

    One of the things that we actually agreed in our discussions is that the Ministry will NOT require website registration and will make that process voluntary.

    I, of course, did not register.

    As to the content of the blog henceforth, keep coming back and check and you are more than welcome to criticize. I look forward to your input.

  10. Good to see you back… am sure many of my friends abroad who were informed about the ‘blockade’ will agree, too.

  11. Congratulations on the lifting of your ban, Mahmood. Sad to see you have to make concessions – but hopefully not too many.

    Every battle we fight, win or lose, brings us closer to true freedom. And with folks like you on the frontlines, the future is assured.

    Again, congratulations.

  12. Hm, now thats what you’d call a u-turn! Glad to see the situation resolved. This all was uncalled for and shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

    Mahmoo, you lead by example. Well done.

  13. Hi mahmood,

    Wouldn’t this encourage the (un)authorities to do the same thing to every one who brings up something against them, now and in the future? After all, it seemed to have worked pretty good in this case. I am betting you’re not going to discuss any thing that closely resembles bandargate in the future. Don’t get me wrong you’re philosophy might be live and fight another day, and i know that you are a family man and have kids to take care of, so court/jail is not an option for you, but the ad vocation of free speech is not a profession for the Non-Mandela types. Imagine if Green Peace stopped bothering pollutionists after the first threat they receive, where would they stand?

  14. I don’t really understand. You believe in censorship. You are quite happy to encourage others to engage in some fairly hideous name-calling – boyfriend with small penis, slit-eyed cow etc – but don’t seem to think that the rules you apply to others (the Singaporean girl who wasn’t enjoying her stay in Bahrain) should not apply to you.
    Why the hypocrisy?

  15. Pwened…ish..

    Either way, Mahmood.tv is unblocked – I’m able to access it.

  16. Rabih, there are many ways to fight the fight, the good side of this scuffuful is that the Ministry of Information now:

    1. Has the 6 recommendations with them and they are aware of them and are considering them,
    2. They know the amount of noise decisions like this generate,
    3. They are now aware that they cannot “sell” website registration simply by telling people that they will protect their copyright, as there are other copyright models like the Creative Commons,
    4. They know that there are people who would use the law to their advantage as the Ministry has done.
    5. They know that people might make temporary concessions in order to gain the bigger picture.
    6. They know now that they have educated the vast majority of Bahrainis and residents how to circumvent such blocks!

    And many other things.

    Let’s assume I had stood my ground and belligerently decided not to back down, what would the result be? Lose my and my family’s livelihood? No thank you very much, I’m not prepared to do that, and I don’t believe that I need to do that even to continue to write and criticize.

    Further, I have said all along, I’m not the type of person who is a martyr for the cause nor am I a crusader. This is a blog, a personal webspace and I would and could easily forgo it at an instant if any of my family or myself are threatened in any way.

    Yet, I chose, on principle, to stand my ground here with my family’s full support, and if your benchmark for winning is the site continues to be reachable for people within and without Bahrain, then that has been achieved.

    Now, I’m living another day, and will continue to fight the way that I pragmatically know how. And I am not, by any means, alone in this fight.

    Ironically, I have fought more and longer than the “professional” press and journalists in this case! I fought more and longer for THEIR right to the freedom of the press and against 47!

    Tom, I went overboard about the Singaporean girl and I hereby contritely apologise for doing so.

    However, the main premise is that she did not like the country and she insulted my country and my people in a very hurtful and unneeded way; I reacted in a knee jerk reaction and let loose. I shouldn’t have, I should have engaged her to show her the better sides of Bahrain. I learnt since then to be less of a jerk. I hope.

    You can hurl as much epithets at me as you like. If I feel generous, I’ll keep them there to remind me to be more humane, but on the other hand, you might get more than what you bargained for, and I hope, that you too will be generous enough to keep them!

  17. Mahmood,

    I understand you’re position, like I said before, you might be following the live and fight another day approach, which is totally valid in this region, since i lived in Bahrain a while back and am in Lebanon right now (I am Lebanese). However, being from this region I know how rare, and trust me folks on this, its VERY rare to find a person like you out there. You stand up for what is good, and speak your mind, always. As a Lebanese, I can relate to all your campaigns, including the “No Shi’i No Sunni just Bahraini campaign”, since as you are well aware, we are a diverse community living in a not – so rich small country as well. So how about “No Shii, No Sunni, Just Arabi!” campaign? Any way, I am far off the subject.
    You said:
    “Further, I have said all along, I’m not the type of person who is a martyr for the cause nor am I a crusader.”
    I totally agree with that point. We have way too many “martyrs” and “crusaders” in our culture and not to many “think before you act” types. I once read an article written by Ghassan Tueine, a prominent Lebanese journalist and founder of annahar news paper in lebanon, something that went like this:
    “If you want to me a martyr, fine. do it.. just don’t martyrize me as well!”
    That is totally true! If people want to be a martyr for the cause then by all means do it, just don’t take us with you.
    I think you acted what is best in the situation after you stopped and thought a bit about your choices:
    1. Confront this, go to court, and since every court in our region is politicized, probably go to jail. If I know people here, you will be forgotten in 1 month and you’re life will be in shambles, while the rest, why they are at that bloggers meeting debating where the next bloggers meeting will be.
    2. Let this slip, its not the time or the place, continue to write, and wait to when the time is right.

    You went with the second choice. Right choice. Trust me folks this is not the US or UK. You can’t (currently) stand up against a monarch (or any official for that matter) and get away with it. Change has to come, and it’s coming, albeit slowly but surely.

    I was hoping that you respond to my comment above this way (as I was sure you were going to :) ). I wanted to bring up the martyr issue in our culture. My beleif was and is the following:
    Martydom, in it’s leteral sense is the death in the line of defending one’s country.
    This does NOT mean :
    Kill yourself at 20, so that you can kill 100 more people with you, for 5 mins on the news.
    This person, who killed himself at 20, should have decided to live, get educated, excel in what he does and bring knowledge and pass it on to his people, so that they can grow strong.
    This is what you have done, and I salute you.
    Sorry for the long post

  18. Thank you Rabih, and I agree.

    I hope that this decision will make me more friends in order to continue to influence people and events to do the right thing.

  19. There is a line somewhere between civil disobedience and being a criminal. I would say that it is defined primarily by the integrity of the legal process.

    When I looked at previous publication bans in Canada they mostly dealt with testimony from active court cases and were designed to ensure an impartial jury. They also had very definite time frames. Most importantly there is a clear process for challenging the ban.

    If there are legal channels available they should be exhausted before defying the order. If the legal system is corrupt then that is another matter.

    Anyone who has read any history knows that you dont charge the guns with a saber. You sneak in after dark and piss in their gunpowder.

    Did they give you any believable assurances that the allegations are being investigated and that in the end the process will be transparent?

  20. Congratulations with the unblocking, good job there…

    It´s really sad, though, that your country will actually block websites and censore your blog like that….it´s really really insane.

  21. Mahmood…

    … Of course I want your site unblocked…

    … but I want to make sure I understand something – will there be any difference in the blogging? I mean, have you agreed to some sort of self-censorship, in return for getting your blog unblocked? …

    I support you all the way Mahmood… and maybe I do not know the details – but please tell me that you have not the agreement of “unblock my site, and I will censor myself.”…

    Its not my blog of course. It is yours and you are free to do with it as you wish. As far as me personally, I would want unconditional freedom of blogging, and not make any deals with the devil.

    Again, I support you all the way.

    -Ibn

  22. Ibn, if I had, I wouldn’t have published and promoted a “secret” new 8-site-block which the authorities themselves didn’t have the time to block by the time my article was published! Thank God for laziness and public servants yet, but I do have my own set of high morals thank you very much, and yes, there are some principals worth losing everything for.

    So to answer your main question of whether I would censor myself, NO, I won’t.

    However, because of the huge response and the humbling experience, I realise that I DO have a much bigger responsibility than I thought before and a position which must be maintained. So I shall strive to be much more thorough in my articles and will definitely tone down my swearing by increasing my vocabulary selections!

    The “meat” though… well, is there a way for a leopard to lose its spots?

    Time would tell, and I would highly encourage you and others to pull me up and challenge my views and analysis, I really do, because I would find it an honour as that will force me to once again raise my game.

  23. Ibn, you and I, and many here, blog anonymously. If we were to use our real names and disclose personal, identifying details, I doubt we would be as candid. Hell, I censor myself even anonymously :smile:

  24. Ibn, you and I, and many here, blog anonymously. If we were to use our real names and disclose personal, identifying details, I doubt we would be as candid. Hell, I censor myself even anonymously

    True, Lujayn…

    …But then again, I do not own a blog. :)

    If someone were to come after me for speaking freely and jail me, I doubt anyone would lose any sleep over it but myself. Mahmood has a full blog, capturing the soul of the struggle for freedom in the Middle East. What do I have?

    In other words, there is more at stake and more to lose when they censor Mahmood, than when they censor me. Im not worth it. :) Which is why I self-censor my full name and the rest of my personal information.

    I guess it is easier said than done. Mahmood, what you have done is very very brave. It is hard enough for an individual, let alone one with a family to raise! I commend you for your bravery.

    Who knows, maybe they will place a sculpture of you in downtown Manama one day, with the motto: “He fought for us..”, but better hire someone else besides me to come up with it so it doesnt sound so cheesy. :)

    -Ibn

  25. Hey! Good for you, Mahmood! Like I said previously, I don’t often agree with you, but I defend your right to an opinion. Now if you guys in Bahrain could just abolish that Orwellian-sounding Ministry of Information then you would be making some real progress. Come on Bahrain! Join the rest of us in the 21st century. End censorship. Support free speech.

  26. Just read that your blog got unblocked. That’s fantastic news.
    Congratulations.

  27. Man, I am so glad you are back. Here in America, we have misguided liberals who think that we should extend to terrorist prisoners of war the same rights Americans enjoy. You have just scored a victory in what we would call 1st Amendment rights. This made me think that the “real” revolution in the Middle East should involve a demand for American style civil liberties.

    A very important right is the 4th amendment. It guarantees that the government cannot conduct arrests, or seizures without “Due process of law.” It also serves to protect economic rights and privacy by implication.

    Another important right is the 1st Amendment. It protects speech, press and religion. When you, as a private citizen, or as a member of the new media can say your leader “Farts in the bathtub and bites the bubbles,” without fear of arrest, or when an Orthodox Jew can vacation in Baghdad, Damscus, or Tehran, I would say the Middle East has finally arrived!

    But the most important right we American’s enjoy, is the Second Amendment. It means that law-abiding citizens can own guns. More than half of the households in America has a firearm in their closet. This means that if our government even entertains a notion of oppression, 75 or 100 million citizens can grab their sporting implements.

    Here is a notion for the Middle East: Engage in a Jihad for liberty! You, and the other M.E. Blogs have been firing the first salvos in this revolution whether you know it or not. The battle cry should be “You can take my PC from my cold dead hands!” Or “Blogs don’t kill people, governments do!” Declare a virtual Jihad against tyrants. If enough people join in, they will fold like a house of cards. Lebanon is the example. Once the people lose their fear, tyrants crumble!

  28. This means that if our government even entertains a notion of oppression, 75 or 100 million citizens can grab their sporting implements.

    Yeah, a 50-cal is going to stop the AirForce from obliterating your entire suburb. :roll:

    Half of Iraq already onwed Ak’s but I dont think that put a dent in Saddam’s master plans.

    -Ibn

  29. Leonard Jones ..

    If your post wasn’t so sad, it would be hysterical! The enemy we are fighting isn’t really the government per se, its the radical elements of the moslem world who are doing exactly what your are preaching and trying to get rid of the tyrants .. except, they think the tyrants are that of US foriegn policy makers!

    You quote Lebanon as a successul example ..lebanon is a mess, and is barely 3 steps away from a civil war at any point in time ..

    Oh, and with all due respect for American civil liberties, they really only apply to America. The rest of the world doesn’t really get the same treatment ..

    ‘Stay the course’ my friend .. stay the course ..

  30. Congrats Mahmood. I’m almost surprised Bahrain didn’t make the new list of internet freedom enemies. Maybe this latest situation as too recent, or it was ignored because of size.
    Whatever the case, I have great admiration for you and others in the listed countries who speak up for freedom of speech where it is endangered by goverment fiat.
    http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=19603

Comments are closed.