Here’s a pledge that I would – and have – taken quite readily:

I believe the Internet should be a force for political freedom, not repression. People have the right to seek and receive information and to express their peaceful beliefs online without fear or interference.

I call on governments to stop the unwarranted restriction of freedom of expression on the Internet – and on companies to stop helping them do it.


Sounds good? Of course it does.
Sounds fair? Of course it does.

Today Amnesty International and The Observer collaborated again and launched another initiative that would ensure respect for and upholds the freedoms of speech in the digital age. They’re asking us to do something very simple, just abide by the pledge represented above.

If you would like to lend your support, before you head over to Irrepressible.Info, think deeply within yourself how YOU could uphold this right and help everyone in the digital domain to speak their minds without the fear of persecution, vilification, imprisonment and other state sponsored terrorism against the individual’s right to express him or herself.

For instance, the Ministry of Information in Bahrain has still NOT rescinded the requirement to register websites, even though the penalties in that administrative order are not applied now, doesn’t mean – in the continued presence of that order – that it won’t be applied at any time or against any webmaster or owner in the future. One wishes of course that the Ministry of Information would unequivocally come out and say that this order is not longer valid and has been cancelled…

Of course we shouldn’t also forget that despicable Press Law 47 (arabic) which every journalist is living under…


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  4. Jonathan

    it’s good to know that people around the globe think the same way i do. Only today i found out that microsoft cooperated with my own government and gave chat transcripts of Mordechai Vanunu in a court session.

    I couldn’t believe it.

    Would it be possible to recieve your Press Law No. 47 in english? I’m currently working on an assignment which involves legal aspects of internet anonimity (I’m a cyberrights lawyer in Israel).


  5. Post

    Hi Jonathan. It was only today that I finally managed to track down the Arabic version, through a banned site (Voice of Bahrain) which mysteriously only today became available! Something wrong with the proxy probably. But anyway, I quickly grabbed it and put it up here in Arabic. If and when I get it in English (I don’t have the time nor ability to do a proper translation) I shall put it up here for sure.

    For the time being, to get the gist of what the law is about, maybe you can try running it through Google’s machine translator.

  6. Jonathan

    Oh; i have, but it’s like trying to read the german BGB, and arabic has so many words which can’t be really translated.

    I’ll just ask someone in the office to do it; I guess.


  7. Post
  8. Unfinished monkey business

    On the subject of press freedom, this article appeared in today’s Gulf News. Its the Nancy Ajram strategy once again: ‘Respectable’ MPs make a series of allegations in parliament against a target Nancy/Big Brother/Al Ayam and then shortly afterwards there’s the riot/attempts to storm the set/abusive messages.

    Let’s hope it doesn’t work this time.

    Journalist bombarded with threats and abuse

    Manama: The list of journalists who have received threats and abuse messages for their opinions has expanded.

    It now includes columnist Saeed Al Hamad, according to Bahrain Journalists Association (BJA) Chairman Eisa Al Shaygi.

    “Al Hamad has received over the weekend telephone calls and messages that doubted his integrity and insulted his character,” Al Shaygi, himself a victim of abuse and threats, yesterday told Gulf News.

    Al Hamad, the editor of the opinion pages in Al Ayam newspaper, was accused by the callers of encouraging columnists to write against Islam and to denigrate Islamic scholars, as part of the month-old standoff between the newspaper and the Islamist Menbar Society over the press law draft.
    Al Ayam said that the Muslim Brotherhood society was seeking to re-impose pre-censorship and prison terms for journalists. But Al Menbar rejected the accusations and said that the liberal newspaper was using them to attack Islamists.

    “Our problem with Al Ayam is that they did not accept our drive to promote Islamic values and integrity,” the society said. Disputing the argument, Al Shaygi said that it was targeting freedom of speech and expression.
    “It is really sad that journalists continue to receive abusive language and messages from extremists for writing columns and news that highlighted the threats associated with their message and attitudes,” Al Shaygi said.
    In one of the messages, Al Ayam staff were threatened.

    “One message addressing the staff of Al Ayam said ‘Today, we call upon you to be sensible because if you fail to regain your senses, then you will blame only yourselves for whatever happens to you as individuals or as a group,” the BJA chairman said.

    Al Hamad said that he was not bothered by telephone calls and messages, stressing that he would continue to promote pluralism and tolerance.
    “These threats are clearly intended to inhibit critical coverage, but since Al Ayam has always adhered to a policy of vibrant columns and bold opinions from a wide range of writers with Islamic and secular backgrounds as well as conservative and liberal orientations, we are determined to continue this trend that has distinguished the newspaper,” Al Hamad told Gulf News.

  9. Jonathan


    Sorry i can’t send the translation to you. my friend read the translation aloud to me earlier (translated to hebrew).

    However, i’ll try to see whether someone has the willpower to translate it.


  10. Post

    No problem, I’m sure one of the societies here will do the honours. In fact it is under heavy review and the parliament is supposed to re-write almost the whole thing, or at least part of it, by next week. So by then it could (we hope) be obsoleted by a much better law.

    That is if those braindead Al-Menbar Islamists are defeated, if not, then welcome to journalist jailtime!

  11. Sadek

    “Our problem with Al Ayam is that they did not accept our drive to promote Islamic values and integrity,” – sounds like a version of fascism/nazism. Al Ayam has been exceptionally brave in showing these regressive power hungry clowns for what they really are.

  12. Anonymous

    “One wishes of course that the Ministry of Information would unequivocally come out and say that this order is not longer valid and has been cancelled…”

    One wishes that the “Ministery of Information” would simply close shop, go home, get a good night’s sleep, and get a real job in the morning.

  13. Hasan in Japan

    Greetings from Sushi-land :-),

    I was just looking at the difference in the opinions you get through your received comments in the English and Arabic sections of your blog. Recently in my Comparitive Histories of Eastern Asia and Western Europe, I’ve been really interested in the notion of separating Church from State. Very interesting how the Europeans figured out during the Restoration Period among other things – that “STATE” and “CHURCH” must be separated – and things worked out well since then (in reference to their legal/political framework). I do remember, though, once speaking to Dr. M. Al-Jamri while he visited Tokyo last year – and we were discussing the issue of religious figures in Bahrain getting involved in politics. His opinion what very appealing to me, and it’s something I respect. Basically, what he said was that regardless of whether I like or dislike religious figures getting involved in the politics of Bahrain, the democratic experiment (regardless of what hypthothetical interjections) should allow the people of Bahrain to ultimately decide whether they want to allow religious figures into the Bahraini government or not. In Bahrain, there are many who are either happy or “comfortably numb” with religious authorities being involved in politics. As for me, all I know is that – as a young Bahraini who just wants find signs that bring promises of a better Bahrain – I get really upset when I see that particular people in the Parliament tend to waste time discussing tv shows like “Big Brother”, Nancy Ajram Concerts, Cutting-Off Hands, Segragating class in the University rather than fueling sectarian friction (in direct and indirect ways), getting started on solving the high unemployment a LOT sooner, fighting for the freedom of press and other issues that are quite obviously more important.

    As a young Bahraini who is actually studying Bahrain while abroad, I really appreciate your work. Actually, on Thursday – I will be presenting about the phenomenon of Migrant Workers in the Gulf, citing most of my statistics from Bahrain, because it is a little more thorough in data collection compared to other Gulf nations (but still a lot is missing). I actually found a very interesting research performed by a Bahraini woman – a Ms. Nadeya Sayed Ali Mohamed (who I believe currently works for the World Bank in Washington.. not sure, though) called “Population and Development of the Arab Gulf States: The Case of Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait” (2003 – Ashgate Publishing). It’s really strange to study Bahrain from abroad, but Bahraini blogs – such as yours – are what make studying Bahrain so interesting and are always a great source of insight and often discuss issues that I think are important for someone studying Bahrain ought to be aware of.

    Keep up the good work 🙂

  14. cryolph

    When ever I see this bearded dickweed in the paper I laugh. Let me repeat Bahrain is and will allways be known as a big whorehouse and bar for saudis and kuwaitis, what F=ckin tourism shopping malls are not tourism get real you think the millions that speed accross the borders every year are doing it to go shopping.

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