Bahrain redefines the WWW

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. A new information Tzar at the helm of the “Information Authority” (or if you prefer, the Misery of Information redux); hence, the very first thing which happens is…. yes, you guessed it: ban some web sites, blogs and even political society websites. All that just ahead of the national elections too. Brilliant. The excuse for closing them is not different from all the previous occasions; however, the new new thing is…

أكد عضو الأمانة العامة في جمعية الوفاق الوطني الإسلامية محمد المزعل، أن رئيس هيئة شئون الإعلام الشيخ فواز بن محمد آل خليفة أبلغه بأن إزالة الحظر عن موقع الوفاق الإلكتروني مرهون بوقف بث المواد الفيلمية والصوتية
على الموقع، والتي تأتي في إطار البث المباشر لفعاليات الوفاق، الذي أعلنت عنه قبل أيام وأطلقت عليه اسم «الوفاق TV».


قال المزعل: «الشيخ فواز اعتبر أن إعلان الوفاق عن إطلاق بث تلفزيوني على موقعها الإلكتروني مخالفاً للقانون، ووعد بأنه في حال إلغاء هذا النوع من البث سيتم إلغاء الحظر عن الموقع الإلكتروني في اليوم نفسه»، وأضاف «من جهتي أبلغت الأمانة العامة للجمعية بما أكده الشيخ فواز وهي بدورها ستقوم بدراسة الموضوع للرد على الهيئة»

Al-Wasat – 5 Sept 2010


The Information Authority stipulates the removal of the live broadcasting functionality from in order to reestablish access to Al-Wefaq’s website

According to Mohammed Al-Mizaal, an Al-Wefaq secretariat member, the head of the Information Authority Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa told him tha the removal o the ban on the Al-Wefaq’s website is subject to them stopping the live broadcasting of video and audio on their site, as has been recently announced which the society dubbed “Al-Wefaq TV”

Al-Mizaal said that he was told by Shaikh Fawaz that Al-Wefaq’s announcing this functionality is unlawful and that once Al-Wefaq rescinds that decision, the website will be unblocked on the same day. Al-Mizaal informed the secretariat which will in turn study the situation before tendering their response to the Authority.

Shaikh Fawaz didn’t come with anything new as he re-iterated what Dr. Abdulla Yateem, the Undersecretary of Press & Publications has previously said about a recent similar recent incident when he warned another website not to use the term “broadcast” or “TV” in advertising its functionally.

Worrying, isn’t it? On several levels. One that it doesn’t seem to matter who the minister or head is, the policy never changes, we’ve gone through more than 5 ministers in that ministry, and all have toed a very similar line. The second, which is more dangerous and unwieldy is that what was supposed to be a World Wide Web, something which was supposed to shrink the world into a small informationally-connected village, is, as far as Bahrain is currently concerned, is more like a “WALLED Wide Web” with only the sanctioned and sanctified information allowed to be seen, heard and interacted with. And thus, another window of opportunity for innovation is resolutely shut.

Quite unfortunate really. The whole Internet now is about rich content. About interactive video, gaming, animation, and live programing one could access from a simple smart phone through to affordable personal computers, allowing people to connect with each other, building bridges and crossing cultures increasing world understanding which is the bedrock of peace. Yet, in our country what we find are high walls being continuously built to deter people from even approaching the possibility of cross-cultural understanding.

Is it then a surprise that we continue to be a physical and virtual island in the midst of a highly connected world? What does an action like this tell the world about us? A retarded and afraid society unwilling to open up to the world? Or does it really only reflect badly on the government as the will, tools and knowledge are widely and readily available to all and sundry in Bahrain with which the circumvention of those unreasonable walls is easily achieved?

I once again urge the government to rethink its Internet strategies and take the courageous steps to ensure easy and unfettered access, because it has been proven once and again that none of the adopted measures so far actually worked, and they never will.

Blogged at above 40,000 feet, in an American Airlines 767 with integrated and uncensored WiFi Internet connectivity flying from San Francisco to New York on Sept 5th, 2010.


  1. The Cynic

    In the Year 3000:

    · Bahrain has finally removed the ban from (some of) the banned sites, temporarily.

    · For the first time ever in Asia, Bahrain has made an Intranet completely isolated from the outside world. Bahrain’s Information Authority assured, “This Intranet site has everything we think (say) the people of Bahrain will ever need”.

    · Since surfing the net could cause mental harms and moral degrading, officials in Bahrain decided that people are not to own PCs without acquiring license to use it. This is done (smoothly) via Bahrain’s First IT License Authority. Now, with just 2 months in queue for a chance to enroll in classes, and several (impossible to pass) tests, for a simple nominal fee (get a loan!), you can finally surf the censored & monitored Intranet.

    · Bahrain to allow some mild pornographic sites, in its believe that these sites are of some kind of education to the newly wed, and ensures that this is not just to distract the visitors of few (almost none-existent) political blogs and forums.

    · Because of their influence on readers’ attitude and point of view, blogs are now lawfully monitored in Bahrain. Therefore, government officials decided to ensure that only those who are scientifically qualified, who are good citizens with good manners, and saturated with moderation and renouncing violence be allowed to speak in them (Déjà vu?).

  2. Ajax


    och , if that happen while i am alive

    i will pack my stuffs and head to the west.

    payed by gov 😛

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