You know you’ve lost the argument if all you have left to “defend” your cause is to demand that the other party be shut up, and use a desperately disparate parliament to encode that demand into law. What is stranger still, is that the party demanding the reneging on the constitutional right to free speech is a national daily newspaper!
Alwatan has entertained us with their brand of “investigative journalism” last week by publishing daily articles and interviews demanding the closure of the awaal.net news website, charging it with the dissemination of sectarian hatred and that it is the direct tool of the Ulama Council which is trying to destabilise the country by fostering hatred against the king and the ruling family.
I really couldn’t be bothered with either Alwatan nor Awaal.net and their own agendas. To me, they have the equal right to voice their opinions as long as they do not breech the sacred rules of not propagating hatred and condoning violence. They can both write whatever articles they like, discuss whatever event that crosses their sights and mount as much investigations as their editors feel comfortable with. If I or anyone else has a problem with any of their published content, then the avenues are certainly available to expose the errors and take them to task. So fight words with words, rather than words with swords or even mediocre and ill-thought of calls to legislation to bar the voicing of one’s opponents’ opinions.
I am very concerned by the campaign mounted by Alwatan and its sympathisers which is urging the Ministry of Information to take action against Awaal.net and “all illegal and unregistered websites in Bahrain”, calling for their closure and to penalise their webmasters. They have gone even further by demanding that parliament question the Minister of Information and enact legislation which would severely curtail the freedom of expression in the electronic media; actions which go against the excellent strides the new Minister of Information has taken to redress the continuous descent of Bahrain’s ranking in various international metrics, especially those concerned with freedoms of expression and freedoms of the press, and conveniently forgetting Bahrain’s position on the Human Rights Council and the various agreements it has become part of. Not to mention their trespass on basic human decency.
In Alwatan’s entourage of support for its despicable position are a bevy of MPs, all well known not only for their sectarian leanings, but also for their complete animosity to almost any kind of freedom enjoyed by Bahrainis. It is very evident that the ideology they subscribe to and their intellect cannot stand any form of criticism. They see criticism as a vendetta against them personally rather than their tenuous positions and tedious actions they adopt while representing the whole of Bahrain.
Bahrain continues to go through very rough turbulence, especially of late. We are faced with daily scandals and disasters, all of which of our own making, yet, our parliamentarians and some of our papers are not only ignoring these critical circumstances, but actually go out of their way to condone injustice and foment sectarian thinking rather than studiously find ways to ameliorate differences and concentrate on future development at this critical time in which almost every country in the region has surpassed us by bounds and leaps. So rather than them taking a principled stand against sectarian appointments in the parliamentary secretariat, we find them hoarsely barking in defence of those awry appointments, rather than immediately call for an independent board on enquiry and penalise those who chose to use the parliament as their own private farm to do with as they like! Instead of them standing for and with freedoms of expression, we find them calling for its complete demise and go even further by demanding the entrenchment of Big Brotherly attitudes.
Shame on Alwatan and those parliamentarians who sow the seeds of strife in this country. Shame on the Bahraini people for not taking a stand against them and demanding their resignation, and shame on all those who brought them into the sacred halls of parliament and now sit back and watch as our country is systematically being destroyed, one brick at a time.
Links: Alwatan’s campaign against awaal.net, pdf pages in Arabic: 8 June, ’08 · 9 June, ’08 · 10 June, ’08 · 11 June, ’08 · 13 June, ’08
Alwatan Newspaper · Awaal.net
To contact Alwatan, click here, to contact Awaal.net, click here