Bahrain Journalists Sydicate Statement of Support

I am very grateful for the statement by the Bahrain Journalists Syndicate released to the press today in which they express unequivocal support to Bahraini journalists and writers who have been penalised for simply voicing their opinions which are supposed to be be guaranteed by our Constitution.

I am also very grateful indeed to everyone who called and wrote to offer their support both locally and internationally. This support is much needed at the moment.

I am also indebted to the Bahrain Human Rights Society who not only offered their moral support, but also have placed their legal representation team on alert to take up and defend the case on my behalf.

نقابة الصحافين تتضامن مع حسن، «العرادي»، السواد واليوسف

تابعت نقابة الصحافيين البحرينية (قيد التأسيس) بقلق شديد جملة من التطورات والإجراءات التي مست صحافيين وكتابا بحرينيين في الآونة الأخيرة وتعبر في مجملها عن مؤشرات مقلقة للغاية حيال حرية التعبير وتضييقا على الصحافيين والكتاب في عملهم.

وقالت النقابة في بيان أصدرته أمس إنها تابعت ”بقلق ما تعرض له الزميل مكي حسن عضو الأمانة العامة للنقابة والصحافي في أخبار الخليج من هجوم من قبل افراد على خلفية قيامه بعمله وآرائه السياسية (..) كما تابعت النقابة بقلق أيضا استدعاء النيابة العامة للزميل احمد العرادي والزميل محمد السواد من صحيفة ”الوقت” والتحقيق معهما على خلفية نشرهما اخبارا في الصحيفة (..) وتابعت النقابة أيضا خبر استدعاء محمود اليوسف للتحقيق على خلفية قيامه بنشر أخبار في مدونته على شبكة الانترنت”.

وأوضحت نقابة الصحافيين على انها ”اذ، ترصد هذه التطورات، فإنها ترى ان التعرض للصحافيين على خلفية القيام بأعمالهم وعلى خلفية معتقداتهم السياسية مثلما جرى مع الزميل مكي حسن مساس وانتهاك صارخ لحرية التعبير وحرية الرأي يزيد في خطورته انه صادر من مواطنين مما يضاعف من خطورة شيوع نزعات الاقصاء وعدم الاعتراف بحق الآخرين في الاختلاف او التعرض لهم بسبب قيامهم بأداء واجبهم.

وأكدت النقابة أيضا ”أن استدعاء صحافيين يقومون بتأدية واجبهم في اطلاع الجمهور على ما يجري من أخبار وتطورات لا يمكن الا ان يثير القلق من المقاييس التي تتعامل بها الجهات الرسمية مع النشر، ويثير أيضا مخاوف من اتجاه للتضييق على النشر والحق الثابت دستوريا للناس في المعرفة”.

Al-Waqt :: 12 Feb, ’07

Thank you.

bin rajab libel archive

  • Ahmed
    12 February 2007

    With all this support, don’t you feel bad for selling out free speech?

    I’m relatively new to your blog, but the last two times I’ve seen you face the possibility of prosecution (bandargate articles and now this), you’ve caved in by removing or rewording articles..

    Please don’t think that this is an attack or anything of that sort. I appreciate your blog and enjoy reading it. I’m just curious as to your personal feelings about all this. Why don’t you make a stand? How do you feel about caving in? etc..

  • mahmood
    12 February 2007

    On the face of it, you’re right. You don’t stand to lose your livelihood, your home, your family and your life being incarcerated for goodness knows how long.

    Having said all of this, yes, I appreciate what you’re saying and thank you for them. I have always believed that amicable solutions should be given a chance, if they do not get any where and you have given them ample time to take effect, then of course take the other option.

    I do feel that I want to fight this fight, only if to “make a stand” as you put it, and am prepared to sacrifice everything in order to exact a position and a precedent. However, Ahmed, think with me: do you really think that this particularly frivolous case is worth it?

    In my estimation it is not.

    Judging by how things are going in Bahrain at the moment, there is no doubt in my mind that other (more important) cases WILL come up in the future. It is unfortunate, but true. Maybe then it will be worth making a resolute stand then, this one, I don’t think that it will serve the purpose. It’s just too… frivolous!

  • Anony
    12 February 2007

    فبراير 12th, 2007 at 10:24 am
    بات معلوما أن الزميل المدعو محمود اليوسف أصابه الخسف مؤخرا بعد أن أدبه معالي وزير البلديات، وتممت تربيته النيابة العامة الموقرين. وقد خاطبه الفقير لله ( في نفس المكان على “مدونته” الذي استخف فيه بالسيد والدكم بأكثر مما استخف بالوزير) بقوله المدون بأسفله. فما كان من المدون العظيم إلا أن بلع ذيله وسحب ألفاظه. والله يمهل ولا يهمل. ونتطلع إلى انتقامه منه جزاء وإكراما للسيد والدكم.
    والسلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته، ودمتم منصورون.
    Hey, is the doing of Bin Rajab the only one way to put right?! Then you do not deserve to be writer of any grade. The Sayyid is well above deginfying you with the only sort of response you understand. Let the Bin Rajabs and thier likes of this place be your teachers. You do not deserve anything better.
    from another bahraini blog

  • AJJ
    12 February 2007

    These things always take time – generations in fact. So a little compromise is always a good thing. I think Mahmood is right to make small concessions on the way.

    We are all indoctrinated as children and cannot change once we get to middle age, so it is our children who will finally have all the freedoms – speech, political and the right to chose their own religion.

  • Ahmed
    12 February 2007

    Mahmood, my personal thoughts on Bin Rajab’s issue slightly differ from yours.

    Personally, if I was in your position, I would have probably taken the exact same steps you took when your blog got blocked because of Bandargate references. Your blog was even probably going to be under further investigation to build a case against you.

    That issue is huge, and if you had decided to fight the fight, it would have not only affected you, but your family too. I wouldn’t put my family through all of this. I don’t believe I should make these choices on their behalf, as they depend on me. To me, taking care of my family comes before freedom of speech.

    Now, the magnitude of this latest issue doesn’t even come close to the magnitude of the previous issue.

    This was going to be a much, much smaller fight – a fight you could’ve won. You have said so yourself, the support for you was overwhelming. You could’ve not only taken a stand for free speech, but you could’ve made Bin Rajab, and others like him, realize that the community does judge them, the community see what they do, and that the community will let them know what they think.

  • mahmood
    12 February 2007

    This was going to be a much, much smaller fight – a fight you could’ve won.

    It’s not concluded yet Ahmed. I have not received any official notification that they will honour their part of the bargain, so let’s not put the cart before the horse yet.

    I think the issue is not this case or that. The issue here is not testing me, it is testing the legal system in Bahrain, and particularly the independence or lack thereof of the public prosecution. If the public prosecution takes such a case and actually pass it on to the courts – a very likely possibility judging by the amount of bail set, considering that others who have been charged with attempts to overthrow the government have been set free on their own recognizance – if they do take it to court, then it proves that the public prosecutor is less than the level they should be at in as much as accepting such cases in the first place. The prosecutor should be the one to decide whether calling someone stupid, fat, a moron, or whatever other adjective constitutes an offence. If they do and they allow the case to go through, then we have a much much bigger problem. And the case transforms from bin Rajab against Al-Yousif. Then, they can look through the thousands of articles already published here, and the tens of thousands of comments contained on this site and they can have a field day. And I should become his majesty’s guest for the duration of my life.

    Do you see what I’m getting at Ahmed? The question is whether in taking this frivolous case up and wasting time, effort and money what will the community in Bahrain get out of it? It will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Public Prosecution regulations should be retooled. I contend that they should be, without having to have a case like this to be at their doorstep. And this case will – in my estimation – will not add anything new to the processes already adopted. It is really not worth making a stand for this one as it will prove nothing.

    I invite you to look at the article in question again, other than changing terms, does the actual content change? If so, in what way had it changed? Does it now have more impact than before? Why?

  • Top Gun
    12 February 2007

    I agree with what is being said here and I also feel that Mahmood is absolutely right is being measured and a little cautious at the moment. This is an outrageous matter.

    The tosspot who initiated this complaint is, of course, a servant of the State and all it’s benovolent administrators. One can’t help think that you are trying to be gagged and deposed in a sinister way Mahmood.

    I am 100% behind you in the way you have made concessions and would hope, for the sake of your good family, you will continue to tread carefully for the time being.

    The momentum is gathering and courageous, just-minded and
    courageous citizens might find it impossible to be so accommodating to these demands in the future.

  • AJJ
    12 February 2007

    The previous one had more impact from a journalistic view point. It was more sensational, not only by the contemporaneous (timing) factor; but also the rhetoric (linguistic) factor.

    But had you known that you would not be let go off, the proof is abundant now that, you would not have written what you did (back then). That proof, in hindsight, is you chickened out!

    “It often pays to be a chicken!”. Isn’t this is what you said to Ahmed?

    So why not say it LAUD and CLEAR, chicken.

  • mahmood
    12 February 2007

    Ah. No. It’s choosing your battles wisely.

    Also, may I remind you that nothing is settled in this case yet. I have not received any information of dropping the case. The deadline is tomorrow. If the case is not dropped, then there will be another reaction to that action.

    Be patient and think things through. Don’t jump to conclusions.

  • Einar G
    12 February 2007

    I’m really not sure if this case would’ve been worth fighting or not.

    The problem lies with the fact that Mahmoods article targeted a private individual. As such the minister has a human right to privacy… and any court decision would have to weigh this against the right to express ones opinion. As such a precedent would arguably take its toll on the rights of individuals, in any event.

    Similar cases have gone either way before the European Court of Human Rights.

    A precedent regarding «freedom of expression» vs. the “need” to silence critics of the government as a whole, would be much more valuable… as far as I see it…

  • M
    12 February 2007

    This really isn’t a case about the right of an individual to privacy; Mahmood didn’t single out the guy on the street and rate his job performance. He expressed his opinion about a public servant, and there is a difference. Frequently in this country politicians cry foul when someone questions their ethics or morals or job performance, but as in the case of President Bill “I did not have sex with that woman.” Clinton shows, being a public official affords you no special protection nor should it.

    Fairly easy for any of us to critique while hiding behind a computer screen; good grief, most of us won’t even confront our kids soccer coach or our employer let alone risk incarceration for an indefinite period of time. This definitely was not worth getting thrown in jail over; it is, however, worth keeping the issue, as well as any future persecutions, in the public eye.

  • jayjerome
    13 February 2007


    This is often a cruel and dangerous world, and to paraphrase William Shakespeare’s character Falstaff in King Henry the Fourth: “Discretion is the better part of valor.”

    This means that caution is often preferable to rash bravery, especially true when confronting governments (mindless entities) and their apparatchiks (the frequently mindless bureaucrats and officials who run them).

    A lesson on how single, powerless individuals should proceed against those in power can be found in the strategy of a mongoose attacking a snake. The mongoose never rushes head on at the snake. Instead, it provokes it with small repeated lunges, agilely dodging the snake’s attempt to bite it with poisonous fangs. Eventually, the snake exhausts itself and becomes helpless, at which point the mongoose seizes its head in its jaws, and crushes it skull.

    Lunge and parry — and avoid getting nicked — sounds like the right strategy for Bahraini bloggers for the present — metaphorical head crushings will follow down the road.

    Best wishes and admiration…


  • AJJ
    13 February 2007

    The only way I could have agreed with you, JJ, to the cieling is if the words now withdrawn which gave rise to the whole thing were never said and if that had been on the basis of Falstaff’s“Discretion is the better part of valor”. In true fact were do not have a Falstaff here. Instead we have a chicken here.

    On this basis, there is hardly any room for any well-founded admiration on your part in this matter.

Och, there’s nought wrong with ’em