Tag Archives blocked

The Ministry of Information is listening

Posted on

Bahrain's Press & Publications department at the Ministry of Information blocking websitesWell, it’s more than listening. They can actually read and also visit this blog from time to time. I am honoured and well chuffed. Extremely. And this particular page has become their official home page!

How would I know? Well because I do. They have used some of the information there to issue yet another block order, number 2008/197 signed by the failed parliamentary contender and current head of their Press and Publications department just yesterday to block the alternate URLs to bahrainonline.org and re-inforced (he thinks!) the block on wattaninet.net by demanding the specific block on a subdirectory of that site: wattaninet.net/forum! Shows that not everyone who can read actually is educated enough to understand what they’re doing, doesn’t it?! 😈

So the official blocked websites in Bahrain, thanks to the valiant efforts of the Misery of Thought Control and THE Protector of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Honour remain the same, but the blocked URLs leading to those sites have increased by 2 (the /forum doesn’t count, go read more about the Internet and its related technologies to find out why!)

Share

RSF gets a bit too Bolshy

Posted on

It looks like there is a new admin for this area for RSF… there must be, as their latest press release about Bahrain is a bit, well, unduly strong. I would have thought that they could be a little bit more politically cognizant and temper it down a bit.

Saying something like:

Determined to oppose the continuation of your current Internet policies, we hope you will take account of this new request to let your subjects express themselves online and allow the Internet to develop freely. We remind you that we already told you of our concern in April 2005 about your government’s adoption of a regulation requiring websites dealing with Bahrain to register with the information ministry.

my emphasis

will most definitely and resolutely burn any remaining bridges between the Bahraini government and RSF, rendering any good that RSF hopes to achieve to be close to zero.

I am not saying that our government’s policy as far as censorship (Internet or otherwise) is correct, far from it, in fact I totally oppose it, but for RSF to go to this level of Bolshiness is immature, inconsiderate and politically incorrect.

Much more important than that, they do our cause no good whatsoever by isolating themselves in such a matter.

I guess this is one situation where a champion turned into an ogre?

hat tip: Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace

Share

Haaq.org blocked in Bahrain

one of the first orders of the new minister is to block access within Bahrain to the Haq Political Movement website

If the policy of blocking Internet access to web sites in Bahrain falls on the shoulders of the Ministry of Information, one which I had ample hope and aspiration of its restructuring to the better by the appointment of a new minister recently, I am sorely disappointed. Because had this been the case then one of the first orders of the new minister is to block access within Bahrain to the Haq Political Movement website, presumably due to whoever it is within government – and it could very well be higher than the aforementioned hapless ministry – “running out of patience” with those “rabble rousers”.

Bukamal, Bahraini minister of information

This brings the tracked blocked websites to 23 (see sidebar). I don’t know the real number of blocked sites as it could very well be higher. If anyone has access to the full list I would appreciate receiving it, even anonymously. In the pursuit of the truth, I would love to discern a pattern from what the government deems “offensive” websites and unearth some sort of order which might indicate what the government – or an influential enough person/body within it – has no tolerance for. Not that recognising an itch would actually produce a soothing scratch!

Not that recognising an itch would actually produce a soothing scratch!

In the spirit of giving, as it is Eid after all, let me share with you once again how one might go around these various blocks and hopefully demonstrate to the powers that be that in this day and age and with the structure of the Internet, blocks on information does not actually work in the way they intend; unless of course their intention is to continue to sully the name of Bahrain in contrast to the very people of this fine country who have been diligently working to promote it.

TOR logoThe TOR project (The Onion Router) is probably the best you can use, especially when you combine it with Firefox as you will see below:

  • They can’t block TOR as it does not depend on a unique location, it is distributed and could be downloaded from thousands of sites. It’s a public and a not-for-profit project (yes, it’s free) and multi-platform.
  • Download the latest version of TOR for your platform, the download and installation instructions are rather straightforward; just go to the TOR download page and grab your version. If it does get blocked in a vain attempt at grandeur, use any of the peer-to-peer file sharing tools and search for it. You’ll get it in no time.
  • Once your package is downloaded, go ahead and install it by double-clicking the downloaded application and follow the instructions.
  • Now go to the Firefox extensions page and install Torbutton.
  • Restart Firefox.

TOR unblocks haaq.org

Now you will notice a small onion in your status-bar. Provided that the Tor application is running in the background, whenever you want to view any blocked site on the Internet, simply click the onion and it will temporarily change your proxy settings in Firefox to enable you to circumvent the blocking mechanism. How it does this is rather simple and ingenious, you might want to read more information about the method used which is available on the Tor website.

I hope that the government wakes up to the fact that censorship only hurts itself and its fragile reputation

I hope that the government wakes up to the fact that censorship only hurts itself and its fragile reputation nationally and internationally and that these draconian measures just do not have a place in this day and age.

This is not the way that things should be done, gentlemen. If one does not agree with another, a negotiation table is the best way forward, engagement, in other words, is much more conducive to solving our problems than having a childish foot-stomping-fist-thumping tantrum.

Share

Honey, I’m hoooome!

unblock mahmood's den order - small

We’re back!

Thanks again… to everyone, and to Dr. Yateem, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Information and the Minister for proving that they are understanding and reasonable people.

I’m not sure how many countries in the world that a citizen can go and meet such high up people, discuss issues with them in a calm and open manner, while those officials knowing full well that that person in front of them has mercilessly criticized them in writing and on several occasions (the latest of which is just this morning!) and they still do not take things personally, but keep professional and find a to diffuse such a situation as this; but there couldn’t be many.

So regardless of our differences, I am honoured to have met these gentlemen and thank them once again for their efforts, and hope that they will continue to accept criticism without taking them too personally, for the good of Bahrain. And invite them, to jump in and comment and rebut any argument and article I put forth here, and hope that I too would be good enough to accept their criticisms with the same spirit.

So that page of our story is over… I’m now looking forward to the new page, one in which we can benefit from each other’s experiences, and can discuss matters which affect our country and our countrymen with the same understanding exhibited in this situation.

The next step for us, gentlemen, is to enact those 6 points suggested by the RSF which I have submitted to you and hope that they will be put into your consideration for any new legislation concerning the internet.

I am available to continue our discussions at your convenience.

Thank you, once again, to everyone.

Onward!

Share

Unblocked!

Not yet, but I am informed by a highly reliable source that Mahmood’s Den is to be unblocked!

I wish to thank each and every one of you who expressed support in any way, shape or form. I wish to expressly thank Mohammed and Esra’a for taking it upon themselves to establish sites and petitiona, and HAMSA for their efforts too, and the various human rights organisations as well as news reporters who have written about this subject. Your efforts have not been in vain.

I hope that this would have demonstrated to the Bahraini authorities that restricting access to information is not the best policy to pursue.

Let me also confirm that I have made some concessions to in order to lift the ban on the site; specifically, I have heeded the “gag order” issued by the High Court published on the 5th of October, 2006 restricting comments and further discussion specifically dealing with their case against Dr. Salah Al-Bandar. I have therefore temporarily removed four articles published in this stream which are held in a queue unavailable to site visitors. These articles will be re-published at the expiry of that gag order. All attendant comments on those articles are also unfortunately sequestered with their parent articles.

All articles and comments published prior to the gag order remain in place.

Based on this and our discussions, the Ministry of Information has agreed to lift the block on Mahmood’s Den and cancel the pending court case.

Finally, I wish to thank the Ministry of Information for the civilized way in which it held constructive meetings with me and listened to my points of view, as I valued theirs, and hope that this incident will result in a more constructive relationship between us bloggers and the Ministry.

I am truly humbled by the tremendous support and love you have demonstrated to me. This now places even more of a burden on my shoulders to be more responsible in my approach to this blog, and these feeling have also demonstrated to me how much bigger than a single person this Den has become which has grown to be a large community of friends and colleagues which I am truly privileged to belong to.

The block should be removed in the next couple of days.

Thank you all once again for your unstinting support.

Share

Thanks Mohammed and Esra’a

I would like to extend my deepest thanks and appreciation for both Mohammed Al-Maskati (emoodz.com) and Esra’a Ahmed (mideastyouth.com) for their unstinting support they have offered and their trials to unblock my blog.

Their efforts, created websites, and brilliant creative ideas and passion demonstrated to protect the freedom of speech in Bahrain is a testament to their patriotism and humanity.

Thank you very much to you, and to everyone else in and out of Bahrain who have offered their much needed support at this time.

Thank you.

Share

Bahrain blocks Web sites over election case

MANAMA, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Bahrain has blocked several Web sites for violating a reporting ban in the case of a government adviser who was deported after alleging election irregularities.

Authorities imposed a ban on publishing information about the case of the adviser, British citizen Salah al-Bander, who was sacked and deported to Britain in September for what a minister said was an attempt to foment civil strife in the Gulf state.

The case, known as Bandergate, initially made headlines in the country which is due to hold parliamentary and municipal elections on Nov. 25. Officials say the reporting ban was imposed to ensure an impartial investigation.

“The information ministry has decided to close a number of Bahraini and foreign Web sites … These sites transgressed a legal decision prohibiting the discussion of the case of the accused Salah al-Bander,” Hassan Oun, director of press and publications at the ministry, said in a statement.

“The information ministry will refer the owners of these sites to the judges for not cooperating and complying with the law,” said the statement obtained by Reuters on Tuesday.

Among the blocked Web sites was popular Bahraini blog www.mahmood.tv which is often a forum for political debate and government criticism. It re-opened under www.alyousif.tv, with a photograph of site owner Mahmood al-Yousif wearing a gag.

“It’s unreasonable. Whether you like it or not, everybody is discussing the Bandergate issue,” Yousif told Reuters. “The main issue here is much bigger than Bandergate or registering Web sites. They’re trying to get us to rescind our public freedoms.”

An Information Ministry official, who declined to be named, said some sites were blocked because they did not register with the government. The official said the law requiring registration aimed to prevent misinformation and insults against the state.

Sectarian tensions often cast a shadow over politics in Bahrain, a U.S. ally which is ruled by Sunni Muslims but has a Shi’ite majority.

((Reporting by Mohammed Abbas; editing by Robert Woodward; +973-1752 4430; Fax + 973 17536194; Email: [email protected]))

The story is now on the wires, that means by tomorrow morning hundreds of papers will pick it up…

and I have just been informed that the Ministry of Information has submitted cases against “websites” with the Public Prosecutor who, in turn, started its investigation over the Ministry’s claims.

I fervently hope that the Public Prosecutor will show its independence by throwing the cases out, as they should be.

Share