Tag Archives censorship

Egypt: Judge’s request to block websites rejected

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Some good news for a change!

The State Commissioner Committee in Egypt has rejected the request made by the judge Abdel Fattah Mourad to block 51 websites and blogs deemed insulting the state’s dignity and threatening Egypt’s interests. In the meantime, the investigation on blogger Amr Gharbia, who was charged for defaming Judge Mourad, has been suspended: “PC Police declared that Gharbia’s blog had merely hosted comments insulting the judge; as the comments did not come from him, he was absolved of the charge,” said IFEX in its statement issued yesterday.

I am glad that this case is being resolved to the benefit of freedom of expression and hope that HRInfo will continue to sue the plagiarist judge and call from his removal from office.

As importantly, a precedent has also been set in that the investigative committee ascertained that a blogger is not responsible for comments entered on his or her site as we have no reasonable control on those comments or commentors.

Congratulations to Amr and the blogging  community on this good news. May we get more of its like.

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mum’s the word

This sounds SO familiar!

وقال العضو البلدي ربيع في رده على الاتهام الموجه له: أنا قلت ما قلت من باب ممارسة دوري الرقابي الذي يكفله الدستور لي كمواطن وكعضو بلدي، وقد ناشدت جلالة الملك بالتدخل لإصلاح أوضاع الوزارة إصلاحاً كلياً.

وأكد «أنا لم أهن أية سلطة، وإنما كنت أمارس دوري الرقابي، وهدفي كان الصالح العام وليس توجيه الإهانة لأي أحد».

يشار إلى أن المادة (216) من قانون العقوبات تنص على أنه «يعاقب بالحبس أو الغرامة من أهان بإحدى طرق العلانية المجلس الوطني أو غيره من الهيئات النظامية أو الجيش أو المحاكم أو السلطات أو المصالح العامة».
الوسط – ١٩/Ù¤/٢٠٠٧

The councillor stated that: “I did not insult any authority, what I did was exercise my oversight responsibility and my intention was to the general good of the country rather than purposefully insulting anyone“.

In an email interview, the Jerusalem Post reporter asked me whether the troubles I am facing are symptomatic of attempts by the government of Bahrain to silence criticism. I answered no, of course not, I don’t believe in conspiracies.

I would like to change my answer now to the affirmative.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any shadow of a doubt any more. Any criticism is not taken as just that any more, an attempt from concerned citizens to better their lot and to act in a supervisory role and attempt with their criticism to correct or at least highlight the various ills they experience on a daily basis in their own country, but as personal attacks and summary insults that hurt delicate feelings of purer than pure government organs and their officials.

More gardening and photography posts coming up!

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Squeeky clean government

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Bahrain’s is the only country in the world that can claim that its government organs and personnel are completely free of corruption.

Saying anything to the contrary, even if you were an elected official, would put you in the dock.

How is that for an ordinary citizen then?

I think it’s probably safer to avoid even hinting of these things from now on…

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Case Deferred

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We went to the court this morning with a number of people already present and offered their support. But due to the main judge’s family bereavement, for which I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Shaikh Mohammed bin Ali on the passing of his mother, the case has been administratively deferred to be heard on May 8th.

I would also like to sincerely thank everyone who was present and all of those who called, emailed and texted their support as well.

In particular I would like to thank the lead advocate Ms. Fatima Al-Hawaj and the legal team offered by the Bahrain Human Rights Society to assist Ms. Al-Hawaj in the case, Lawyers Nawaf Al-Sayed and Lo’ay Qarouni; Tawfiq Al-Rayyash, Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, the head of the Bahrain Journalists Union Mohammed Fadhel, journalists Mohammed Al-Sawwad from Al-Waqt (who was involved very recently in a similar case), Mohammed Aslam of the GDN, Mohammed Abbas of Reuters, Sandeep Singh Grewal from the Bahrain Tribune and Adel Al-Shaikh from Al-Wasat.

I would also like to sincerely thank my family who have always stood by me. My wife Frances, my brother Jamal and sister Maha as well as my children. I am sure that if my other siblings were in Bahrain they would have not hesitated an instant by being present to offer their support.

The legal team have asked for the case’s documents for their review and preparation, and we await the new court’s date to present our case before the High Criminal Court.

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Thoughts on tomorrow

Thank you all for your unstinting support. I truly appreciate it.

What I want to emphasize, if I may, this is not really a case against Mahmood Al-Yousif as much as it is a case against the tenets of the freedom of expression.

We, the people, should not be cowed into a status of never questioning or criticising a government official no matter how high that position is. They have to realise themselves, or be made to realise that the positions they occupy being called “civil servants” is no accident of nomenclature, but fact.

Unfortunately, both the Penal Code and the Press & Publications Law specifically not only discourages this civic responsibility of criticism, but glaringly criminalise it!

Is it any wonder that these very officials have risen within their own spheres to a status of demi-gods, inviolate, unapproachable and completely disconnected with the very people they are sworn to serve?

Parliament, on the other hand, continues to prevaricate and hasn’t even scheduled discussions on a retooled Press & Publications law which will elevate freedoms of expression in all its forms, concerning themselves more with perceived sorcerers and witches!

No, this is not a case against Mahmood Al-Yousif and never was. What I have written is rather mild when you consider it. This is a case purposefully levied to silence criticism.

Today it is me. Tomorrow it is everyone who dares to even glance “wrongly” at a public official, even if that official happens to be a janitor.

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At the High Court at 9:30 for 10:00

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We’re all gathering tomorrow morning at the Court building at 9:30. Cases are looked at starting at 10:00am.

It’s a freedom of expression case, any way you look at it. Please show your opposition to attempts to stifle this freedom by being there.

Thank you.

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Libel case to be heard in the High Criminal Court!

bin Rajab vs Al-Yousif High Criminal Court summons

I received a summons yesterday delivered to my home instructing me to present myself at the High Criminal Court next Tuesday (17 April 2007) charged under both the Penal Code (3/92, 364, 365) and the Press & Publications Law 47/2002 (3/4, 72, 77) in the defamation case brought against me by a sitting minister; H. E. Mansour Hassan bin Rajab, the Minister of Agricultural Affairs and Municipalities relating to my criticism of his public figure and that of his ministry for lackadaisical performance in executing their duties.

I am grateful for the various mediation efforts enacted on my behalf which have gained the Minister’s assurances – twice – that he would drop the case; however, unfortunately this obviously has not happened.

I am very grateful for the tremendous support I have received from Bahraini and international journalists and friends in this regard. They not only promise to be present at the trial in a show of solidarity, but the Bahrain Journalists’ Association specifically have appointed Ms. Fatima Al-Hawaj to take up the defence of the case on my behalf.

I have also received and continue to receive the unstinting support from the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights as well as the Bahrain Human Rights Society. I truly appreciate their advice and their support.

I am convinced that I did no wrong. I have portrayed my criticism squarely at a public figure and a government organ both of whom I think did not execute their job to the full extent of their capability. This case is nothing more than a scare tactic to silence any form of criticism, especially that of a public official. Why else is a case like this is to be heard at the highest criminal court in the land? Why else is a defamation case looked at in the same court that adjudicates murder and treason cases?

I believe in our constitution, and believe in the human right of free speech and expression. I know that with your support I can go through this.

If you wish, you can show your support by writing about this case and you are more than welcome to be present at the court next Tuesday morning to show your support.

For background information about this case, please use the following link:
http://mahmood.tv/tag/bin-rajab

and full press coverage (so far) at:
http://mahmood.tv/bin-rajab-vs-al-yousif-libel-case/

A higher resolution image of the attached document (for publication) is available at:
http://mahmood.tv/pages/courtcase_binrajab_vs_alyousif_pp.jpg

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No blocked sites in Bahrain!

No blocked sites in Bahrain!

update 9 Apr, ’07: I am told that Batelco has started to block the sites again, but rather than blocking them at the proxy servers (which are in a sad state, it seems) they are blocking them directly at the router, which means it is going to be harder to bypass that block. I’ve checked some of the sites below and found that some indeed appear blocked. So, essentially, no lesson has been learnt unfortunately.

I have no idea what’s going on, but I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

I have just checked all the listed blocked internet sites just now and ALL of them are unblocked!

I hope that this is not a technical glitch but a strategic understanding that blocking internet content does not serve the country any good at all, apart from it being a futile exercise.

I’ll hold my congratulations at bay at the moment until I know for sure what’s going on.

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Countdown started

countdown to the next elections

We deserve the parliament we vote for. Here’s to hoping, against all odds, that the people who voted for these dark-ages jokers would learn from their lesson and don’t assume – for a third time – that religiosity = political ability or wisdom for that matter, as this parliament has amply proven.

Welcome to the age of Bahraini Inquisition. Have the cinder ready, and build gallows in sufficient numbers for the exclusive use of the parliamentary inquisitors, the protectors of our faith, the defenders of our morals, the lovers of culture and the appreciators of the arts.

What did you actually expect? That this parliament would diligently work to increase freedoms of speech and expression? That they will open investigations in dire issues they have conveniently forgotten like Bandargate, the housing shortage, the dearth of land, the increasing poverty, retooling education and fixing the constitution?

Fat chance!

We can’t blame the government for this one. We can only blaming ourselves for voting for these morons. Well done. I hope whoever voted for them is happy with their choice now, go on, pat yourself on the back.

Assuming the next elections would happen on 15 Oct, 2010, there are 1,303 days left. Assuming we actually want to wait that long.

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