I was a guest of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Adliya this morning. I was called yesterday and asked – very politely – to present myself at the CID’s Anti-Economic Crimes Unit “for a chat and some tea” which I accepted with alacrity and with not a little trepidation. The fear; however, was unfounded.

I was received in a professional manner and the gentleman chatting with me – I can’t call it an interrogation really, there were no plastic hoses in sight and I was offered tea and sat on a comfortable sofa in his office.

The questions were like those received from a journalist or a friend: when did I leave Gulf Air, why did I do so, how is the business doing and that sort of chit-chat. The the questions came into the “libel” area and how I understood the law concerning libel, needless to say the warning bells increased in intensity at this point! I asked the captain where he was going with this stream of questions and if there is actually a charge being levied against me, by whom and why.

After a few minutes more of chit-chat about the law and how we should all respect each other, and that practically I should understand that the level of freedoms we enjoy in Bahrain – although not as high as Europe and the States – they are still high enough but we should also understand when to stop. We also have customs and laws against besmirching people’s reputation, etcetera.

I agree, I said. Those were all facts and my understanding of the law – although superficial – is still solid enough to understand the conditions of libel. For instance, if you claim that someone is a rapist, you better have the proof ready to back your claim up, otherwise you should be penalised in some way for besmirching that person’s reputation. That’s all common sense, otherwise we will have chaos. For the life of me I cannot fathom what the captain was going about, I have become a lot more careful how I write in this blog, because whether I like it or not, it has got some degree of fame and following and I strive to be more responsible in my writing and even think in a journalistic sense. It’s not as fun as the early days of course where I can rant and rave like the best of them… but I learnt the hard way that showing respect to those you write about, even if I do not agree with them, packs a stronger punch than calling them names.

I also hope, as I have emphasised time and again, that public figures – especially – should accept criticism, no matter how hard that becomes, because people are actually criticising the position more than the person himself in most cases. Over-sensitivity of public figures is uncalled for and counterproductive. Just imagine for instance if HH the Prime Minister or HM the King responded with libel cases for every time they came under harsh (and sometimes very impolite – to say the very least) criticism, the courts will overflow with these cases, would they not?

HE Mansour bin Hassan bin Rajab, the Minister of Municipalities & Agriculture, Bahrain

Well, a public figure has taken umbrage with what I have written against him, and rather than contacting me to complain, or even entered a public comment refuting what I have written, he went through the legal route and lodged a case against me with the police, which is fully his right of course; however, that is not going to change the subjectivity of calling someone “stupid” or any other adjective used to describe someone or change the fact of his performance in the previous Shura council nor the fact that he has had business cases levied against him at some point of his life.

I am rather disappointed with this situation of course and I am unsure what The Right Honourable Minister His Excellency Mr. Mansour bin Hassan bin Rajab, Esquire, is going to gain from this. This action to me is nothing more than trying to shut his critics up by force of law – if any of these cases actually go to court in the first place – waste the courts’ time and efforts as they do have much more important cases going through them that take years, or at best terrorise his critics into submitting to never criticising him again! Well, this ain’t gonna work with me! I criticise to better this country as a concerned citizen, and shall continue to do so regardless of these frivolous cases.

And why pick on me? Well, I am known! Hence, I am an easy target. I am sure I can bring out several comments and posts written by anonymous persons in the multitude of fora within and without Bahrain which he just could not touch; but Mahmood Al-Yousif, ah! he’s exposed! un-anonymous! known! and we have his full contact details, his family and his points of views, so let’s attack him! Let’s make an example of him!

Further, I have suspected that ministers of the realm do not have the time of day to scratch an itch, let alone cruise websites and personal blogs routing through them with fine tooth combs looking for perceived libelous material against their exalted personalities. Judging by this incident, I know now that I am sorely mistaken. But as I have criticised other ministers over the lifetime of this blog, and none bothered to take me to court or lodge a complaint against me with the police, let me revise that assessment and not generalise but specify that maybe, actually in all probability, understand that only this particular minister is not being kept busy enough! Mr Prime Minister, can you give him more “portfolios” to fill his time? Please? Maybe then he would pay more attention to his job, better his ministry and staff to get them all (including himself) to provide the necessary services to the community with alacrity and expeditiously.

Driving back from Manama an hour or so ago I was caught in an almighty downpour. I am sure he could utilise his time (stop reading here Your Excellency and get your job done!) and provide the necessary services and funding for the municipal councils or contracted companies to remove the resulting stagnant waters, and maybe use your position to think of practical solutions to utilise this precious water rather than wasting it as usual in a country suffering from virtual drought?

I shall present myself at the Public Prosecutor tomorrow morning at 8AM promptly as instructed, and it will only be my pleasure to talk to the assigned person to this case and shall come back and write about my experience so that people will see how you personally have contributed to the “betterment of Bahrain.”

Your Excellency (I know you are still reading this) accept this as advice from a concerned citizen: concentrate on doing your job and do it well and wealth of reputation will come to you uncalled for and unbidden. Pursue your differences with opinion writers (professional or normal concerned citizens) and all you will do is damage your already frayed reputation.