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.
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.