Newspaper Banned in Bahrain

Not that I love Akhbar Al-Khaleej, nothing could be more remote from the truth, but my feeling for this decrepit paper, its publisher or some of its so called journalists is completely immaterial, but it should not have been banned under whatever reason given or withheld by whatever organ of government dictating this latest ban on freedom of speech.

Rumour has it that the reason for the ban is this excellent Muharraqi cartoon. In it, a hand captioned as Official Media is trying to cover the truth unsuccessfully.
Rumour has it that the reason for the ban is this excellent Muharraqi cartoon. In it, a hand captioned as Official Media is trying to cover the truth unsuccessfully.

My sources tell me that the paper was banned due to a rather cutting article by the infamous Shura Council MP Ms. Sameera Rajab who is no stranger to controversy. She is loathed by a great swathe of people in Bahrain due to her background and rather critical writings especially about the Shi’a and their beliefs. It is also no secret that she detests the regime in Iran and has been very sympathetic to the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussain.

Regardless, banning a paper because of a column is a slap in the face of the freedom of information that the Ministry has been at pains to promote – rather paradoxically, especially that it has made it their professional hobby to block websites.

Sameera Rajab is free to her own opinion, and regardless of what she has written criticising the Iranian regime, neither the paper nor she should have been banned from publication. If the government of Iran – if the information is correct – has an issue with the article, they are free to respond in kind, rather than crying to a boneless ministry who has acquiesced to a foreign power’s request rather than stand up for freedoms which should be its main purpose in life to protect.


Update 24 June, 2009: The reasons for the suspension/banning the paper for a single day is due to Ms. Sameera Rajab’s article as confirmed by the Editor-in-Chief Anwar Abdulrahman. Yacoub’s Dome has more to say about this episode.

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12 Comments
  • bint battuta
    22 June 2009

    Good post – but one small point: reports say the paper has been “suspended” rather than “banned”, which is slightly different.

    • mahmood
      22 June 2009

      Och, just semantics. They are used interchangeable enough in this here part of the world.

  • Jeremy Bicha
    22 June 2009

    So, if Akhbar Al-Khaleej is decrepit, what do you think about the Gulf Daily News these days? What is your favorite newspaper?

    • mahmood
      22 June 2009

      I do read both. Me not liking them doesn’t mean that they don’t sometimes have something worthwhile. Regardless, they both are substandard as far as journalism is concerned, both have their main reason for being is to sell as much advertising as possible at all costs. The ban and the other trouble they have come into, they came into by happenstance only and not by design, but when they do, they use the occasion to popularise their presence with the eye firmly fixed on the bottom line.

  • FYI
    22 June 2009

    it was a ONE day suspension or warning.

    AKHBAR AL KHALEEJ TO START PUBLISHING TOMORROW

    MANAMA, JUNE 22 (BNA)– BAHRAIN NEWS AGENCY WAS INFORMED BY RESPONSIBLE SOURCES THAT BAHRAINI NEWSPAPER AKHBAR AL KHALEEJ WOULD START PUBLISHING AGAIN TOMORROW, TUESDAY.

    http://english.bna.bh/?ID=79991

  • mahmood
    22 June 2009

    Many thanks, that was ONE day far too many.

  • Bernie
    22 June 2009

    Thanks Mahmood.
    I read the story literally minutes ago on the BBC and decided to come over here to find out exactly why it happened and as always found the answer.

    I find it surprising that these politicians have not yet managed to get it through their thick boned skulls that with modern communication methods their constant attempts to cover up news end in making them look ridiculous time after time.
    Time they dragged their sorry butts into the new century and stopped treating people like morons.

  • FYI
    22 June 2009

    I just finished reading Mrs. Rajab’s article that was published yesterday 21 June 2009; covering the Iranian elections and post election events. To say the least it was very critical of the Iranian regime and the revolution. She wrote that the leaders manipulated religion to oppress and enslave its citizens.

    A while back when an adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader doubted Bahrain sovereignty, naturally people here were angry and shocked at how a figure representing the Iranian government could be allowed to say such things. In my opinion the same thing applies here; if Mrs. Rajab was just a journalist her article would have been justified. But as long as she’s an appointed MP in the Shura council her statement will be taken into contest as representing Bahrain.

    That’s why I think the Iranian ambassador met with our FM ( http://english.bna.bh/?ID=80009 ) this afternoon to explain the situation. But to ban the newspaper from publishing for a day to just stupid. The government should have released a statement saying the Mrs. Rajab wasn’t representing the views of the government in her article.

  • Ibn
    23 June 2009

    ولك شو محمود؟؟ والله أنا مستغرب – رجعت البلوق؟؟ ليش ما تقل لي من قبل؟! ههههه! لا خلص معلش أنا هلأ مبسوط

    🙂

    – Ibn

    • mahmood
      23 June 2009

      بغيته يكون لو كي!

      🙂

  • coolred38
    24 June 2009

    My friend, Maryam Al Sherooqi, writes for Al Wasat. She is just about the only Sunni that writes for that paper and all her Sunni compatriots constantly demand her to stop writing for it simply because it is primarily a Shia newspaper…but she wont stop because its the only paper at the moment that allows her the freedom to express herself without too much censorship. Of course she has found herself in quite a lot of hot water due to her writings, prosecution cases abound, heavy handed techniques, withholding of her salary from the Ministry of Education, personal threats to her safety….threats to the livelihoods of her husband and brothers etc…as well as threats of jail time….all because she dares to write about what everyone else talks about privately but dont have the balls(sorry) to express in public.

    She has been told that all she has to do to make all this “go away” is to apologize for hurting some MP or anothers feelings…or is it a Minister or two…lol…she has everyone on her hit list…and to quit writing…but she refuses. She said if she apologizes…when she has done nothing wrong but express the truth…then Bahraini’s have lost again.

    Funny enough, one of the Ministers she razed in an article prosecuted her (on going case) publicly…but called her privately and praised her writing ability and willingness to say such things. He claimed he is forced by his position to not accept her words without a fight…but admires her none the less for saying them…go figure.

  • Hashim Al Marzooqi
    24 June 2009

    I cant understand why would they ban a newspaper just for posting an article about the iranian leadership or even a cartoon sketch ,,, its rediculous, and what is more funny that iran leadership has claimed alot of times that bahrain belongs to iran. eventhough bahrain is a free county for more than 30 years.

    FREEDOM OF SPEECH <<< where is it

    all these silly issues are nothing but RAPING DEMOCRACY !!

    i don't know but i have a feeling that it will be so much worse in this country… everything is going backward :S

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Newspaper Banned in Bahrain