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From this morning’s GDN

Webmasters are free to register

WEBMASTERS will not be hounded into registering their sites with the Information Ministry, authorities said yesterday.

Information Under-Secretary Mahmood Al Mahmood said although the rules state that Bahrain websites must be registered with the ministry, it will not be actively pursuing them.

“Our goal is to encourage people to follow the legal way and a large number of websites have already registered. But we will not be actively pursuing all websites that are not registered,” he said.

“It’s the same as registering a car. If your car is not registered and no one hears about it, then you won’t get into any trouble. But if the authorities hear about it, then you could.”

A six-month campaign has been launched to register all Bahraini websites.

Webmasters face similar laws to newspapers related to libel, public decency and ethics. Just as a newspaper editor-in-chief is held responsible for what he publishes, so will a webmaster.

Ministry printing and publishing director Jamal Dawood said the ministry has an application form that people can pick up and fill.

“They will be issued with a registration number which they should put on their home page.”

Mr Dawood said no one would face prosecution merely for failing to register. He said registration was in the webmasters’ own good.

Rights

“We cannot protect people’s intellectual property rights without having them registered.”

Mr Dawood said people cannot register online at the moment because his directorate doesn’t have a website. For more information, he said people can call 17717525 or email [email protected]

Meanwhile, the ministry’s new policies were blasted by Bahrain’s first web blogger Mahmood Al Yousif who said if they weren’t going to be enforced properly, they are meaningless.

“This means that the law is going to be applied unequally and if it will be applied haphazardly, then it is useless.”

Mr Al Yousif, who runs www.mahmood.tv, said this policy will only victimise people who are courageous enough to reveal their identity on the Internet.

“There are many ways of disguising your identity on the Internet. Since these people cannot be identified, the law cannot be applied to them,” he said.

The Internet blogging community, said Mr Al Yousif, has its own way of dealing with irresponsible bloggers.

“The blogging phenomenon, which has been sweeping the world for the past few years, has done wonders for progressing and protecting democracy because it’s about normal people putting down their thoughts without having to go through the traditional editorial process.”

This piece was by Tariq Khonji whose site http://tariqkhonji.com is well worth a visit.

This to me is progress, in as much as they (Dawood and Al-Mahmood) seem to have realised that they’re getting into deep water here so it’s best to find a way out. It is unfortunate however that they chose to unequally apply the law – which in their minds is a legitimate thing!

And pray tell us Mr. Al-Mahmood and Mr. Dawood, how is it that you want to “regulate” the internet and you don’t even have a website?

For this very fact, and for the fact that you RUN the Ministry of Information I hearby un-libellously brand you morons of the month!

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Webmasters clamp ‘can prevent libel’

New rules asking webmasters to register their sites with the Information Ministry should not be used to stifle freedom of expression, political activists said yesterday. Some were totally opposed to any registration, saying it could be the beginning of a slippery slope which could lead to further restrictions and unfair legal action to be taken against webmasters.

Others said the registration rule should only be used to prosecute people for libel and similar crimes and that there should not be an attempt by government officials to control the content of websites.

National Democratic Action Society board member Ebrahim Alsayed said this development is the latest in a series of moves designed to stifle the population.

“It follows recent proposed anti-terror, gatherings and political societies laws, which are examples of backward steps being taken following Bahrain’s previous democratic reforms,” he said.

“It fits into a bigger scenario of the government controlling society, limiting freedom of expression, freedom of organisation and the ability of the public to put pressure on it.”

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Freedom of Speech my big toe!

Webmasters must register or face legal action

Webmasters face prosecution if they defy new rules announced by Bahraini authorities. All Bahraini websites set up here or abroad must register with the Information Ministry or face legal action, it was declared yesterday.

A six-month campaign is being launched next Monday to register all Bahraini websites, under orders from Information Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Mohammed Abdul Ghaffar.

“The ministry will announce soon the details of how each website owner or supervisor can register,” Information Under-Secretary Mahmood Al Mahmood told the GDN.

“If they fail to register then legal action will be taken against them based on the country’s printing and publishing laws.”

He said websites would face similar laws to newspapers, related to libel, public decency and ethics.

Just as a newspaper editor-in-chief is held responsible for what he publishes, so will the webmasters be, he said.

Ministry printing and publishing director Jamal Dawood said registration procedures would be in line with those for all types of publications, including newspapers, leaflets, audio and visual media.

GDN

We woke up this morning to this. We first got wind of it through a very Silly site.

That the Ministry of Information continues to innovate and create new ways to drag the name of these islands in shite. The ministry being an extremely important appendage of Bahrain, Inc. can’t have come to this conclusion by themselves, they (the whole government) must be still smarting from the bahrainonline.org debacle, when sane people would think twice on generating adverse publicity once again by trying to control what is printed, this time they seem to have gone a step further and want to penalise us for our thoughts as well.

Nothing new of course, after all, the impression that the Ministry of Information is most concerned about is the complete destruction of Bahrain’s reputation nationally and internationally.

However, the Ministry of Information is really not to blame, it is an executive body trying to keep within the letter of the law. The blame is fully on the parliament’s doorstep and every single member of that impotent organ, be they elected or appointed. Functioning for over 3 years now without a single law that would improve Bahrain’s standing in the world, nor a single one that would improve our standards of living. Unless of course you consider that allowing veiled women to drive, protecting us from Nancy Ajram, or the requests to the Ministry of Works to install traffic bumps on roads achievements.

6 months.

We have 6 months to fight this brain-fart, or else just shut up and gobble it all up. And although we cannot depend on the parliament, unfortunately it’s the only place we have to petition to do something.

Therefore what I propose is:

1. Don’t register any site, if at the expiry of the 6-month deadline comes about without any progress, put up a statement on our websites declaring the death of freedoms of speech in Bahrain and abandon the sites.

2. Organise an on-line petition where all webmasters and website patrons can electronically sign. At the end of the 6 month period print it out and hand it to the Chairman of the National Assembly. As it is his chamber through Ibrahim Bashmi who is working on the new press and media laws rather than the moronic chamber of representatives.

3. Immediately organise a meeting and invite ALL webmasters to attend to take this issue further.

If they think that we’d be lying down and taking it, they’ve got another thing coming.

Who’s with me?

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The usefulness of the “smart card”

I’ve been going on for a while about the smart card and people have just been scoffing the fears I harbour. “It’s just like the CPR” they say invariably, “and we’ve been living with it since 1984, so what’s the difference? It’s going to make our life better!”

Sure it’ll make our life better. If we had proper legislation against fraudulent use, against trafficking in private information, against identity theft, and against mis-use or even a law to protect our private information.

But we don’t.

So expect a not too distant future like this.

Now can you afford not to take action?

Start by writing your MP to stop this fiasco before it’s too late.

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Party Shuffle

In the continuing Winds of Change series in Bahrain, it seems that there’s going to be a limited ministerial change and ministries restructuring to be announced today or tomorrow. This is good.

But don’t hold your breath for the ancients to leave, the Foreign Affairs, and Defense will stay as is, and no, the premier ain’t goin’ no where either.

People who are reportedly to be booted are:

1. Abdulla Saif, the minister of finance and national economy, and the chief negotiator of the FTA is to be fired. This is the most surprising change to me. This move might be completely to appease our friends the Saudis. Now that they claimed their victim and got the pound of flesh, I hope they’ll now move on (and give us back those 50k barrels, please? pretty pretty please?)

2. Nabeel Al-Hamar, the ultimate survivor whom everybody suspected to be booted out on several previous occasions, is once again in the reports that he’ll be fired. But mark my words, he’ll land a very cushy job nevertheless. This guy will just not disappear! They are also reports in two Arabic dailies (Al-Wasat and Al-Ayam) that the Ministry of Information is going to be broken up into corporations, or amalgamated into the Ministry of Youth and Sports on a temporary basis until it is completely disbanded.

3. Abdulnabi Al-Sho’ala is shown the door. Wouldn’t it have been much better if parliament opened the door for this guy and shoved him out of it instead? Hey who am I kidding… Let’s see if they (the parliament) do anything to try to return the BD44 MILLION ($116.7m) referred to in the Transparency report as “missing” from the Housing Bank.

4. Mohammed Al-Muttawa is out. He’s probably going to be re-assigned as the Bahraini Ambassador to France. Can’t we open an embassy in the Antarctic or something? The weather there is quite amenable to freezing lips shut thus hindering speech, but with all the hot air, that might not work very well…

5. Shaikh Essa bin Ali Al-Khalifa, minister of oil is out. Can we ask for him to be frisked before he leaves? Body search? No matter. He’s been there for yonks and he’s reportedly going to be booted, and his ministry is going to be amalgamated with the ministry of power and water. So the next time we get a blackout, with both Alba and Bapco falling under the new ministry, there won’t be much excuses for screwups… or will they once again get creative?

Our friend Majeed Al-Alawi will continue to be a minister (huh?) but his current Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is going to be split up into the Ministry of Labour and a new Ministry of Social Affairs. He’s going to keep the former, while the latter is reportedly going to the 2nd woman minister: Dr. Fatima Al-Balooshi who is a Dean in the University of Bahrain.

In the shuffle, the Minister of Justice will be rotated, to be replaced by Mohammed Al-Sitri who is the current Municipalities minister. The current minister of justice is reportedly going to be assigned as one of four vice-premiers. The first time ever that this position which was recently enacted anyway, will be occupied by a Shi’a. Learning? I hope so.

My suggestions to the government (parliament, hello, are you awake? sit up and listen:)

1. Ensure that every new minister declares their personal wealth as a condition of accepting the job.
2. Ensure that they don’t hold any Commercial Registrations.
3. Ensure that they don’t have any direct or indirect business interest.
4. Audit the outgoing ministers, and don’t be afraid to ask “Where did you get this from and how?” type of questions.

Of course the GDN doesn’t know (or need to know) any of this!

We’ll hear all of these confirmed or denied in the next few days…

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Watch’em Sweat!

2006 is oh so close I could almost smell it! Why, You ask? Elections of course! The time to boot out all of the jokers in parliament and hopefully replace them with better people who won’t chase capital away from the island, who will recognise terrorists and call them as such, who won’t object to Nancy Ajram and create riots, who won’t object to staging a play (arabic) because its name has the word “Falujah” in it.

And to back all that up? The Chamber of Commerce and Industry, awakening from a deep slumber shook by Farouq Al-Moayyed put the ante of BD 1 million as cash prizes (arabic) to who they choose to run for parliament with a good economic agenda!

That by itself got our dear MPs to shit bricks, the first of which actually had a heart attack a couple of nights ago and had to be hospitalised. While we wish him a very speedy recovery and Insha’Allah a very long and fruitful life, we will be happy to see the back of him, and his ilk in order to make way for people who care about this country and not use the parliament as their personal pulpit to restrict personal freedoms, and who are not ineffectual fools in the face of continuous government harassment and coercion.

All in all, the past few days especially seem to have been loaded with press releases, posturing, positioning and jostling in a clear indication that the election fever for 2006 has already started…

Let the Games Begin!

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the damsel is sulking

All together now: ooooohhhhhhh, you pooour pooour baabieee. did Abdulnabi Salman and other MPs who uncharacteristicly stood up for the freedom of the press hurt your pooour pooour feelings? tut tut tut. Never mind, come here and get a cuddle. You can now go back into the chamber and carry on with the session.

BUT GET THE FUCK OVER YOUR SULK.

You stupid, in-bred, moronic excuse for a HUMAN BEING, how the bloody hell did you get to sit in the chair, and represent ME, in MY name, you silly excuse for a Hitlerite dictator. You simple minded amoeba.

Who the fuck are YOU to demand that an accredited journalist be thrown out of parliament? Do you think that WE, the people, have NO right to know what is going on in that whorehouse you call an assembly?

And based on what? These other fucks, the moronic, uncivilised, sectarian pigs of Al-Menbar Islamic Society who count between their members the ultimate hog Mohammed Khalid, the Shi’a-hater, objected to a reporter who did her job by reporting what they said in one of their sessions against the Shi’a. Even if she mis-represented what was said, or completely slandered these jerks, wouldn’t you think that being the protectors of the constitution they would use the judicial system to sort the matter out?

No of course not. Why should they? They take the cue from the parliament’s CHAIRMAN who on several occasions demonstrated just how GOOD he is at protecting human rights, personal freedoms and the freedom of the press. After all, wasn’t he the same person who suggested that the police should use bulldozers and forcibly remove the protesters in a car cavalcade who were supporting a prisoner of conscience?

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Chaos as MPs clash over ban on reporter

Parliament’s weekly session ended in chaos yesterday after MPs quarrelled over a reporter being banned from the session. Some MPs walked out in protest as Al Wasat newspaper reporter Batool Al Sayed initially refused to leave the Press box.

Parliament chairman Khalifa Al Dhahrani had reportedly earlier contacted newspaper chairman Farouk Almoayyed, insisting that Ms Al Sayed stay away from future sessions.

This followed a written request from the Al Menbar Bloc, following a report by Ms Al Sayed on a row between MPs Shaikh Mohammed Khalid Mohammed and Shaikh Abdulla Al A’ali two weeks ago, over a Parliament statement on the fighting in Fallujah, Iraq.

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Flip-Flopping Deputy Dawg?

Jassim Al-Saidi, the Bahraini flip-flopping MPThis should surprise us at all, we knew of his abundant qualities already with the flurry of bills and proposals he shoved down parliament’s throat over the past 2 years. We also know of his particular predilection for fame and having his picture in the papers. I don’t know why, if I had a face like that I would hide in a dark cupboard and refuse to go out. But hey, that’s just me. I think this guy is truly driven into assuring his three wives (this is no joke, he does have 3 wives!) that he’s gonna be elected again for the next parliament, and he might well be as he’s probably the best that Riffa has to offer (please prove me wrong Riffa.)

Anyway, onto this piece of news from the GDN this morning:

MP Jassim Al Saidi is urging parliament to approve a BD1,000 Eid bonus for all Bahraini families. This is double the BD500 Eid bonus proposed by Parliament Second Deputy and Al Asala chief Shaikh Adel Al Mouawda and four other allied MPs. Yesterday, Mr Al Saidi was reported as backing a counter-proposal with four other MPs, urging the government to use the surplus generated by soaring oil prices to reduce the budget deficit, alleviate debts, finance infrastructure projects and build solid currency reserves. “Bahrainis are over-indebted and are in need of a helping hand… They deserve aid,” he told our sister paper Akhbar Al Khaleej.

Is that not flip-flopping? This dickhead probably thinks not, but then, he normally trips on his IQ so there is no reason to reason with him.

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