Another site blocked in Bahrain

With the strange blocking of Silly Bahraini Girl, I can no longer speculate as to what the government’s policy, standards or strategy employed other than a heavy handed approach in stifling speech and them hoping – or actually believing – that such methods actually work in this day and age.

Amira Al-Hussaini’s blog’s content is varied but none of it threatens national security. Unless of course the escapades of Persian kittens are constituted as such!

Amira is one resounding voice in and of the Arab world. Being the Regional Editor for the Middle East and North Africa for Global Voices, a published Huffington Post contributor, she has a resolute finger on the pulse of the Arab world. Apart from her being previously a journalist for some 17 years with the Gulf Daily News, the English language national daily in Bahrain, one would be hard pressed to find a better person to represent Bahrain as well as the larger Arab world. As to her character, all one needs to do is read some of the comments her readers enter on her articles, or read what her peers think of her. Apart from her writing, she is frequently involved in international symposiums and workshops as a leading feminist, journalist and writer.

So one is put to task to think of a logical reason for such a move by the government. Is it a genuine mistake by a functionary who wrongly entered this particular blog into the burgeoning blocked sites list? Or is it another concerted effort at censorship? Or is this a message being sent to Amira: be careful! The problem is, when they block a site, they never tell the webmaster, blogger or author why the block has happened. And why should they? Legally, they do not have to explain their reasoning to anyone. All it takes is a ministerial order. There is no reason to use the legal framework that this country continues to do a big song and dance about. They don’t need to get authorisation from a public prosecutor nor do they need to submit reasons to a judge. The fallacy of a “state of laws and institutions” continues, and because of this oft-repeated statement, the lie is transformed into an abject truth. Freedom of expression be damned, and so are human rights.

However, assuming the best and giving the government the benefit of the doubt, again, I clicked on that link to submit a request for unblocking the site, and entered my reasons for doing so:

Hoping for the best, a clicked the “Unblock” button. But in a demonstration of misplaced trust and undeserved benefit of the doubt, I got this:

Due to the fact that I have been faced with the exact same result when requesting the unblocking of every site I visited which presented me with that asinine blocked screen since its inception a few years ago, I am left with no alternative but to think that the unblock link is just decoration and the requests will never be taken seriously. They are there for cheap eye-candy and to fool the simple.

But even the simple if faced with a hurdle thrown in the path of their destination will find a way to circumvent it, and it’s oh so easy to do now that the vast majority of Internet users in Bahrain already have various tools to circumvent these idiotic blocks.

So who benefits? Who benefits from the government spending millions of much needed currency on filtering technologies? Who benefits from the installation of filtered caches which attempt to create a block but the only thing they succeed in is the delayed access to stale information? Who benefits from the anger these blocks generate, and who benefits from the utter frustration that drives much needed investment – both local and foreign – away due to archaic application of blanket punishments? And who benefits from the uncertainty of censorship haphazardly and unnecessarily applied?

I’m certain it’s neither the government, nor the people of this great country.

It’s possibly a few misguided ancient megalomaniacs for whom the basic of redundant communication that is the Internet is all about.


  1. Suhail Algosaibi

    What I just can’t figure out, is why have YOU not been blocked? If Amira, then surely you should have been blocked ages ago. Do you have a Wasta we don’t know about?

    I also believe this is a great country, but there are one or two glaring faults that need clarification.

    1. Post

      Och I’m not that important, my turn (and yours too) will come. Thank the haphazard application of whims.

  2. Jeremy Bicha

    I think I got that unblock form to appear to work once or twice long ago, but yeah it’s always down. It’s not that anyone would actually take useful action on these unblock requests anyway, but they could at least pretend to listen. They should think of the amount of time people would waste filling out a form that’s never read for hundreds of websites.

  3. cons

    for those still not finding you way around all this silly censorship, click – it works in China – surely the world’s poster boy for restricting freedom of speech and expression – and it’s free.

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  4. Nhusain

    Mahmood is loyal to the king. And there are posts here supporting the king on some issues as well. Mahmood is also a sincere patriot to his country and not interested in any extra legal or illegal activity. That is why I think his site is not blocked.

      1. Post

        They’re all birds of a feather, using the same filtering technology and probably the same basic database.

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