King vows to promote freedom of expression

27 Feb, '07

In an audience today, the king met with the members of the Bahrain Journalist Association and:

UNDERLINED HIS CONTINUOUS KEENNESS TO PROMOTE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION WHICH IS THE MOST EMINENT CONTRIBUTOR TO PRESS DEVELOPMENT URGING EVERY BODY TO STICK TO OBJECTIVITY AND HONESTY AND CHAMPION THE NATIONAL INTEREST.

King meeting journalists

and just to be sure that the translation is actually correct, courtesy of the BNA:

و اكد جلالته حرصه الدائم على كفالة حرية الرأى والتعبير التى هى العامل الابرز فى ازدهار الصحافة داعيا الى ان يتحلى الجميع بالموضوعية والنزاهة وان يضعوا مصلحة الوطن العليا فوق كل اعتبار.

Thank you your majesty, this is much appreciated by every opinion writer in the island, I am sure. And as your majestic words are law, I can now assume that Law 47 of 2002 which imprisons these very writers for exercising your vision as expressed above is now withdrawn and that people can write and speak their minds for the betterment of your kingdom without fear of this particular persecution and imprisonment?

I sure hope so and shall take your words at face value. I will also hope that our illustrious parliamentarians shall immediately work to rescind that law and replace it with another which will allow people to speak their minds without having that sword of incarceration hanging over their heads.

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Comments (14)

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  1. Abu Arron says:

    But what of the possibility that there could be occasions where objectivity and honesty does not serve to champion the national interest?!

    Unlikely, of course, but how should/could such a situation be handled without fear of retribution?

  2. docspencer says:

    Mahmood and Abu, I know that my opinion is unimportant being so far away and with Mahmood calling me a moron, but this is a very important statement from your king.

    I have two questions Mahmood.

    Has the term “national interest” been defined? It would be of great importance for the people to understand this term and know exactly what it means, and have laws in place to support it.

    It would be normal in any country to have freedom of speech, as long as it is not against the national interest. Without the national interest being protected, free speech is not meaningful.

    Mahmood, it is very wrong to call your (illustrious) parliamentarians by a disrespectful name. It is unreasonable to assume that they are all negative. In fact, it is more likely that they are all acting in the best interest of Bahrain and want to be known as such. I would rather assume that they are doing their best during their term. So support them. After their term ended, you can vote for someone else if they did not do a good job. Their job is not easy. No one is without an ego. There is no person without faults. Not you, not me, no one.

    I do think however, although you may respond in a very negative manner to me as in the past when you disagree with anyone. YOU on YOUR BLOG are responsible for treating government officials with respect, appropriate for their position, and THAT includes those who the people voted for.

    Some are critical hiding behind a pseudonym. At least you do have the balls to speak your mind, living there, with your name and address known. I have a very high respect for that. You express yourself well. You are probably an excellent speaker. You SHOULD run for office. It is this kind of person who could be of great help to your country and people if you were a MP.

    Regards,

    Vic

  3. On second thoughts, I’d better keep my lips sealed 🙂

  4. Ali says:

    The 64 thousand dollar question is: how would the authorities interpret the King’s directions? Would they extract the “National Interest” and try to protect it by executing more oppression against the people? Previous experience led the observers to be cautious about the next move. Therefore, I’ll join sillybahraingirl and would keep my lips sealed!

  5. can we talk says:

    TO STICK TO OBJECTIVITY AND HONESTY AND CHAMPION THE NATIONAL INTEREST

    this is the more important part of the speech. the problem is that objectivity is subjective and honesty is relative.

    for example, in MY humble opinion, the GDN has been harming national interests more lately than it has been telling it like it is. but that’s just me..

    who is going to judge?? especially since motives are not always malicious, they could just be ignorant.

  6. mahmood says:

    It is these intentionally mailable terms which are used to restrict our freedoms too, as you rightly pointed out, it’s all in the individual’s interpretation.

    It is these terms too which our governments use to sign UN human rights agreements with the legal reservation “unless it contravenes the principals or teachings of Islam” which basically negates the whole contract and allows for the main principals of those agreements to not be enacted in local laws.

  7. jayjerome says:

    “Freedom of expression must be considered sacred and thought can only be corrected by counter thought.” – Naguib Mahfouz

    “Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.” – Salman Rushdie

    “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.” – Voltaire

  8. can we talk says:

    freedom of expression has to go hand in hand with very strong and clear (unambiguous) and bounded definitions of and laws against libel and slander, defamation of character and invasion of privacy, definitions of malice, etc. and heavy penalties have to introduced when lawsuits are proven in a court of law, in order to encourage responsibility in the media.
    then step back and let freedom of expression be sacred.

    if not, every tom, dick and harriette would be writing whatever for their own agendas without worrying about the consequences of their words to others… freedom of expression in a vacuum is akin to living in a jungle

    (my turn to duck!!!)

  9. AbuRasool says:

    يقول المصريون
    أسمع كلامك يعجبني أشوف فعايلك أتعجب

    I cerainly want to ”

    STICK TO OBJECTIVITY AND HONESTY AND CHAMPION THE NATIONAL INTEREST”

    but who will define these terms for us. The likes of Khalifa bin Salman, Khalid bin Ahmad and Ahmad Attiyatullah have already disqualified themselves. AbuRasool

  10. Just me says:

    Its a pretty simple definition:

    NATIONAL INTEREST = ALKHALIFA INTEREST

    It’s all about the family name, one tribe against one nation

  11. ASKAD says:

    Even though the King tries his best to do his best to promote the democracy status, other people under him will not do whatever he wants due to conflict of intrests and these people like our kingdom to remain as it is to benifit as much as they can. hope that he relizes this and kicks them out to make space for real democracy & freedom of speach and not just fancy words in the newspapers.

  12. docspencer says:

    CWT is right on in my opinion. You may never be able to get a perfect definition of what “national interest” means, but a good sound effort in this area and with the passing of supporting laws, it would be very helpful. You may not agree with some of it, but that’s not so bad. Not knowing what it is at all, and judgement being therefore completely arbitrary by a judge, IS bad.

    Is there a way for you guys to pursue this officially to get some results?

    Best regards,

    Vic

  13. docspencer says:

    Interesting reading:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_interest

    This subject is more complicated than I thought, but it’s components are clearly defined. What you need is good definitions for these components locally.

    Vic

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