Bahraini court imprisons journalist for libel case

It is with utter sadness that I learnt that journalist Mr. Saleh Al-Amm was handed a 3 month prison sentence or payment of a fine as the court found him guilty of libel in a case brought against him by Ms. Fatima Buali, the ex-manageress of the Almanar Home for the Elderly.

This prison sentence is rather ominous, and will further stifle the already fragile freedom of expression in Bahrain and will push its press freedom index further down the list. This will ultimately affect the country’s reputation in international circles and might very well affect the level of trust internationals will have for doing business in Bahrain.

What the courts and the government should realise is that a free press is a major component of a modern society. With freedom of speech and expression societies can elevate themselves as it aids in the country’s and society’s development and transparency. A free press is not an enemy of the state, but quite the contrary, it is a full partner that contributes to the stability of the country.

Mr. Al-Amm is not the only one who was presented to the judicial authorities due to his exercising of his constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression, another journalist, Mr. Mu’ath Al-Mishari was also presented to court on another libel case.

I extend my full support to these gentlemen and shall stand with them against this unfair law and call, once again, for it to be retooled to fully reflect His Majesty’s vision of reforms for the Kingdom.

  • Rancher
    14 February 2007

    PLease be careful, I fear for you, Sand Monkey, Omar and Mohammed at Iraq the Model, and all the other bloggers that blog from oppressed nations.

  • Esra'a
    14 February 2007

    I have confidence in you. Should anything happen, you know that all of us will support you no matter what, and we’ll make sure that the entire world will be on your side. I think perhaps a campaign against these hideous reactions against free speech is in order.

  • Anonymous
    14 February 2007

    Why do you look at it that way Mahmood?

    Its everybodys right to a fight for their reputation and if someone, be it a journalist or a minister choose to defame you, you too would seek the courts for justice in clearing your name.

    Journalists should not be above the law, nor should anyone else.

    I am not well acquainted with the case you brought up, but if the matter was investigated and tried by the courts system, then those that caused unnecessary defamation to someone living on the Island, should get what they deserve.

  • Mansour
    14 February 2007

    Hi Mahmood!
    Oh, and now two straight-forward convictions (after fair trials) are, necessarily, “ominous” and “unfair law”. Have you read the verdicts yet?

    …. and Hi Esra’a too!

    you know that all of us will support you no matter what

    You sound more than just the usuaul Big Mouth you. Oh, isn’t it about time you had a review of the effectiveness of your too many campaigns?

    Let’s see if another of your Big Mouth , drunk champaign will move a straw this time!

    I guess not, for its root cause is not more worthy than a mere hideous reaction against law and order.

  • mahmood
    14 February 2007

    Esra’a is directly contributing to the future of the human race by her conscientious actions.

    What you are contributing to; however, is further demonstrating your hate and ignorance both of which are quite apparent. You are nothing more than a little coward who assumes names and personalities to spread your brand.

    Be a man.

  • Maverick
    14 February 2007

    I am indeed saddened by these turn of events. It is sad that while speeches are made about freedoms and democracy, restrictions are imposed to make people cowtow to the law as prescribed by some to control the rest. :angry:

    Every person has a right to comment and criticise policies that affect their lives and when they feel that as citizens or residents they feel their rights are violated or expectations are not met.

    On another note over the years I have seen many positive changes in Bahrain, but what is seriously lacking is a organised infrastructure to take care of the water drainage from rains and spills from houses after cars are washed. What is surprising is that this infrastructure does not cost much and drainage gulleys could have been constructed using local material like varnished/lacquered date palm trunks that are biodegradble and easily replacable if damaged. Cement and concrete can also be used. In some areas of Bahrain, the soil is clay type and drainage is not easy. I have observed that while digging ground for construction of houses in certain areas like Kuwaiti avenue, water comes up from the ground and it needs to be drained out. So there are problems which can be solved through proper planning and thought :whistle: :happy:

    Coming back to square one, I wish you speedy justice as you deserve it. It is time to set the ball rolling in the freedom of expression department. A blog is a personal diary and your inviting a discussion from others does not consitute libel as you even as an individual are not trampling on another’s right to exist or express themselves. Further even if you do speak your mind, which you have a right to btw regarding the performance of a person who was appointed by approval of a democratic government that you approved through meethak. Perhaps your reference to the court cases that have been issued against the person is what irks him. Think about it. If I may so bold to suggest, make an appointment with the minister and get your lawyer and his lawyer present and talk things out. perhaps you can solve this amicably and without egos being hurt and accusations being levied and court fines being paid. Constructive peace talks solve more than war of words. 😉 🙂

  • Grace
    14 February 2007

    Hallo Mahmood,

    I am sorry about your stroke of bad luck these past few days. I hope you and your Minister “friend” sort things out soon.

    Within the same context, I was just going though Sawsan Al-Shaer’s collumn (from last Monday’s paper, please forgive me for being so slow but I’ve been up to my forehead with work these past few weeks).

    She talks about the freedoms that have been provided and those that haven’t yet materialized. Its very interesting, I feel she has written her peice in a way that makes people see things from a different perspective.

    Its necessary for us as Bahrainis (people and the government) to learn to put ourselves in other people shoes in order to understand the other point of view. That way we can put our message across better. Its no use fighting and bickering when we have been given the right of way, we just need to figure out a path that works well for everybody.

    I have noticed Mahmood, that you have been a very neutral onlooker for most of your blogging career, yet in the recent past, and please take this with the best of intentions, you are trying to make the changes instead of just presenting them.

    In this short space of time, you have managed to change your stance to the most negative and have therefore attracted many politically driven people (both with and against) to join your conversations. This has resulted in a very aggressive outcome and to be honest in some instances makes me just want to move on to a different site.

    I still hold you with the utmost respect, for wanting to make Bahrain a better place. Yet I do wish that the way in which you present the current issues be less provocative.

  • F
    14 February 2007


    Been a while for me. Mahmood, could you please tell me why the case was brought against this journalist?

    I have not been updating myself with the local press lately.

  • mahmood
    14 February 2007

    I appreciate the advice Grace. Thank you. I shall keep it in mind.

  • Redha A
    14 February 2007


    I fear that after every thing has been said and done, they may be trying to make a scapegoat out of you! I implore you not to fall victim. You have established yourself as one of the pioneer defenders of the ‘Freedom for our rights (and yours)’, but please keep in mind that although you are in the right, there is no influential body backing you up. WE DO NOT HAVE AN ORGANIZATION OR INDIVIDUAL ON OUR SIDE WITH POWER TO MAKE CHANGES; I DO NOT FORSEE ANY INTERNATIONAL BODY INTERVEINING.
    Our country has not changed enough for one to speak freely or express opinions openly.
    It is still considered taboo.
    Our Judicial system is a sham, the back log of pending cases, the track record of DUBIOUS convictions against rapists, drug offenders and traffickers all enforce the an unrealized fact that the judges presently residing must be removed and fresh blood brought in. We need People with open minds that can have an immediate and positive impact thereby restoring people’s faith and trust in the Government. Laws must be written to guarantee peoples freedom of speech and expression, to enforce peace & prosperity and to defend the rights of individuals (i.e. keeping the public in mind) not with the aim of safeguarding government restrictions.
    I stand with you in spirit and pray that rational minds prevail.

  • mahmood
    14 February 2007

    Thank you Redha. I hope that reason will in fact prevail. But like you, I too am suspicious; however, I feel it is still my duty to make a stand.

    I know that there are fresh mediation efforts going apace now which I hope will show the minister the error of pursuing this case. Although the damage has already been done to the country’s reputation, I feel that amends can still be made and reason should be shown to have prevailed even at the 11th hour.

BJA condemns minister’s reneging on an agreement to drop case against blogger