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December 31 2012

No Haven for Citizen Journalists in Bahrain

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

After Bahrain's police “Slap” video went viral the Minister of Interior issued a statement in which he asked that “anyone who films such an event should report it immediately” to the authorities. Two days later, and in contrast with such statements, many were shocked with the news of the arrest of a photojournalist.

Picture of Photojournalist Ahmed Humaidan and his membership is photographic society of America published by @ahmedalfardan1

The European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights tweeted:

@EBOHumanRights: Arrested and still missing youth photographer Ahmed Humaidan from Bahrain City Center Mall yesterday late night.

Photojournalist Ahmed AlFardan added:

@AhmedAlFardan2: More than 15 undercover police arrested humaidan from Bahrain city center #freehumaidan #freebhphotographer #sitrapic.twitter.com/pSeM9YgJ

Sayed Hassan wrote:

@WLEXT: Sad Day for Photagraphers & Journos in #Bahrain, Award winning Citizen Photo Journalist #FreeHumaidan arrested yesterday pic.twitter.com/c4ak9VFH

Picture of Ahmed Humaidan with several award winning photos that he toke and some awards he received

Kuwaiti writer and human rights activist Hadeel Buqrais tweeted:

بعد افلات قتلة المصور أحمد اسماعيل يتم استهداف المصور احمد حميدان في البحرين بإعتقاله

@HadeeLBuQrais: After the killers of photojournalist Ahmed Ismail evaded justice photojournalist Ahmed Humaidan is targeted and arrested.

Ahmed Ismail is a videographer who was killed in Salambad last year while filming a protest. He was shot from a civilian car.

The Doha Centre for Media Freedom issued a statement which said:

The Doha Centre for Media Freedom is joining the quest for information with the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights which calls for the immediate release of Humaidan.

Humaidan has won more than 140 international awards in photojournalism, and he is considered the second most Arab photographer to win awards in photography competitions.

 

Zainab Hashemi added:

دائماً يخافون ممن ينشر عنفهم و تعنجهم لذا إختطفوه ، غداً ستصفق سميرة رجب و تقول كعادتها : لدينا حرية في الصحافة في البحرین

@ZainaBHashemi: They are always afraid of anyone who publishes their violence and arrogance that's why they arrested him. Tomorrow Sameera Rajab [minister of State for Information Affairs] will say as usual: we have press freedom in Bahrain

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

December 30 2012

Bahrain: Tweet Leads Human Rights Activist to Prison

Sayed Yousif Almuhafda is the Vice President and Head of the Documentation Unit at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). He is also a member of rights groups Front Line Defenders and Amnesty International. He was arrested on December 17th as he was monitoring a non violent demonstration in the capital Manama and reporting about it on Twitter.

Sayed Yousif was charged with spreading false information on his Twitter account. He is being especially accused, among other things, of posting a photo (link contains graphic content, reader discretion is advised) on Twitter on December 17, of an injured young demonstrator actually taken two days earlier.

In a letter sent to Global Voices Advocacy, Sayed Yousif's family says that while he is in good spirit, he believes that his arrest is politically motivated—an attempt to stop him from doing his job as a human rights observer:

Sayed Yousif believes that he was unnecessarily taken [by the police] while performing his job of observing a march in Bahrain […] For such charge he should not be kidnapped by police in civil clothes during the protest and be surrounded by at least 30 riot police. He says that they could have sent him an official request to show in front of a public prosecutor and spare him the jail.

Sayed Yousif believes that his detention is a pure revenge for his job of exposing human rights violations during peaceful protests and he feels that it is a message to him to stop reporting the violations in Bahrain.

On December 25, Sayed Yousif appeared before the prosecutor-general in Manama who decided to extend his detention for 15 additional days. A decision condemned by freedom of speech advocates like media watchdog Reporters Without Borders who posted the following statement:

Muhafda is yet again paying for his commitment to the circulation of information about human rights violations in Bahrain […] The authorities must stop their repeated violations of freedom of information and allow news providers to operate freely.
The information provided by Bahrain’s human rights activists is all the more important as the authorities limit visits by foreign journalists and often obstruct the reporting of those who are allowed in.

This isn't the first time Sayed Yousif is arrested for his reporting of human rights abuses in Bahrain. On November 2, 2012, he was detained for 12 days after covering a violent police crackdown on a demonstration in Diraz, west of Manama.

#FreeSaidYousif campaign poster, posted on Twitter by @OsamaJaleel

Sayed Yousif was last visited on December 25 in the Hoora police station, in the northeastern suburb of Manama. According to his family, he is being isolated from other political prisoners, put in a cell along with non-Arabic speaking common-law prisoners.

In a message sent to Global Voices Advocacy, his brother Sayed Osama Almuhafda (@OsamaJaleel) writes:

This is another form of punishment to him. He has no one to communicate with.
All other freedom of speech and political prisoners are kept together in the “Dry Dock” prison [the Ministry of Interior’s Short-Term Detention Unit in Manama], except for Sayed Yousif. We believe that his case is totally cruel and unjustified!

Sayed Yousif's family calls upon all human rights' advocates to put pressure on the Bahrain government in order to make sure he gets a fair trial and a treatment equal to that of all other freedom of speech prisoners.

Ways you can help

You can follow Sayed Yousif's Twitter account, @saidyousif, or tweet under the hashtag #FreeSaidYousif and show your support.

You can also reach out to the media and human rights organizations and tell Sayed Yousif's story to the world.

December 29 2012

MENA: Acclaimed Authors’ Favorites of 2012

M. Lynx Qualey, blogger, who is interested in Arab and Arabic literature, wrote a series of posts introducing acclaimed Arab poets, novelists, and short-story writers’ favorite Arab reads of 2012. She started with a list of nonfiction books, then followed by a list for poetry [En] and fiction [En].

December 25 2012

Bahrain Police “Slap” Video Goes Viral

Two years ago what has become known as “The Arab Spring” was sparked when a member of the Tunisian police forces slapped a young man in Sidi Bouzid. People thought that the days of police suppression will be over soon, but in Bahrain yet another video has gone viral to remind us that police states are alive and well.

Activist @alaashehabi tweeted:

@alaashehabi: Vid of police slapping man in #Bahrain goes viral-200k views in 24hrs. How many news channels aired it?

The video shows a man holding a baby being shouted at by a police officer, who then slaps him, twice, while he is still holding the baby:

The reactions to that video went beyond Bahrain. Famous commentator on Arab affairs Sultan Alqassemi, from the UAE, shared the video saying:

@SultanAlQassemi: Bahrain police officer abuses power, slaps citizen http://goo.gl/RMsCB  Video via@muradalhaiki

Qatari journalist Mohamed Fahad Alqahtani [@mohdwaves] tweeted :

 مؤلم لانه يثبت بالدليل القاطع ان كرامة الانسان في الدرك الاسفل من التقدير في سلم اولويات بعض القيادات الامنية الخليجية,ياللعار

@mohdwaves: The slap video is agonizing because it is a testimony that the dignity of a human is the least appreciated thing on the priority list of some Gulf police states. What a shame!

Saudi media celebrity Waleed Alfarraj tweeted saying:

 .. فضيحة من الصعب ترقيعها !!

@waleedalfarraj: The slap video .. A scandal that is hard to amend

Kuwaiti poet Rana Alabdulrazzak also tweeted:

http://youtu.be/zI_L1rAn4Bw أن ترى هذه الصفعة ولا تشعر بألمها وهي تهوي على انسانيتك .. اعذرني فانت لست إنسانا أصلا #البحرين

@ranati01: To see this slap and not feel its pain falling on your humanity…pardon me, you are not even human

Omani Academic Dr. Haider Al-lawati had a very interesting suggestion:

رجل امن في #البحرين يصفع مواطنا اعزلا في وجهه. منظر مؤلم ومحزن. اقترح ان يعرض على القادة المشاركون في قمة التعاون !! http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=zI_L1rAn4Bw&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DzI_L1rAn4Bw%26feature%3Dyoutu.be

@DrAl_Lawati: A policeman in Bahrain slapping an unarmed citizen, an agonizing and sad scene, I suggest that it's shown to the leaders participating in the GCC summit

The GCC, or Gulf Cooperation Council is made up of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and the UAE and its leaders are currently meeting in Bahrain.

After thousands of tweets regarding that video the official response was as follows:

@moi_bahrain: Assistant Undersecretary of Legal Affairs: Detention of a policeman in connection with an online video

and later on:

تشكيل لجنة برئاسة رئيس الأمن العام لحصر هذه التجاوزات ودراستها وتحديد سبل معالجتها..يتبع

@moi_bahrain: A committee led by the head of public security will be formed in order to intercept and study these violations to define ways to rectify it

Meanwhile, the head of public security and head of the above mentioned committee brigade Tariq Alhassan tweeted from his personal Twitter account:

١- محاولات تشويه صورة وزارة الداخلية ومنسوبيها هي جزء من حرب شعواء من أشخاص وجهات معروفة ومفضوحة بعد ان فشلت في مخططاتها السابقة #البحرين

@Talhassan: Attempts to defame the ministry of interior and its staff is a part of a fierce war by known and exposed persons and organizations after their previous plans have failed.

٢- تقوم تلك الجهات واتباعها بإطلاق مسميات تزدري بها رجال الأمن بهدف النيل من شخصيتهم وزرع البغض لهم لدى الناس كبارا وصغارا #البحرين

@Talhassan: Those organizations and their followers use derogatory terms towards policemen to demean their personalities and incite hate towards them among the people young and old.

٣- تقوم بتجهيز الكمائن لرجال الامن حسب سيناريوهات معدة من إعلاميين محترفين في قنوات معروفة في دول أخرى ثم تصور وتعرض عند الحاجة #البحرين

@Talhassan: They setup ambushes for policemen based on scenarios prepared by media professionals working in known media channels in other countries and then filmed and released when needed

- يقوم الدجالون والعملاء ببث تلك اللقطات ويبالغون فيها وحسبما يردهم من تعليمات وبما يحقق لهم ولمن يدفعهم من الدول أهدافهم #البحرين

@Talhassan: These traitorous fakers publish those scenes and exaggerate them as they are instructed and the way that fits the goals of those countries and theirs

A few hours later, human rights activist Naji Fateel tweeted another video:

​خطير جداََ؛~ اعتداء وحشي على شاب في العكر اول مرة يعرض http://youtu.be/t-UuDXOT-cA #bahrain #feb14

@najialifateel: A brutal attack on a young man in Aleker shown for the first time

December 17 2012

Bahrainis Protest on National Day

December 16 and 17 are official holidays in Bahrain. The first day is National Day and the second is to celebrate the accession of King Hamad. Unofficially, December 17 is also Martyrs' Day - a day to remember the scores of victims who have lost their lives over the years as Bahrainis continue to struggle for their political rights. While many celebrated, this year, others took to the streets to protest as turmoil continues to rock this restive Arab state.

On Twitter, Sayed Hassan shares this photograph from a protest in Sanabis.

Protesters carrying a banner that reads: “Martyrs Day, Awareness and Giving” [published by @SanabisNews on Twitter]

He tweets:

@WLEXT: People Marching in Sanabis village a few minutes ago

Minutes later, photojournalist @MazenMahdi tweeted that he is being arrested from Sanabis:

@MazenMahdi: Police arresting me #Sanabis #Bahrain

Mahdi was released two hours later - and left to walk back to his car in the rain.

@MazenMahdi: Released from police station media card not returned after being marched with police for hand-over, allowed to walk back in rain to my car

In the village of Boori @Feb14Media tweeted a picture of another protest:

A night protest in Boori

A night protest in Boori. Photograph shared by @Feb14Media on Twitter

The Twitter account, which has been tweeting news of protests and political developments in Bahrain since the start of the uprising in Bahrain on February 14, 2011, explains:

بوري : انطلاق مسيرة غاضبة على الرغم من تساقط الأمطار

@Feb14Media: Boori: An angry protest erupt despite the rain

wahat_almaameer also tweeted pictures of another protest in the village of Maameer.

Female protesters marching through the village of Mameer, photo published by @wahat_almaameer

المعامير/رغم الأجواء الباردة وتساقط الأمطار احرار المعامير يخرجون في مسيرة غاضبة تأكيدا على الصمود

@wahat_almaameer: Mameer: Despite the cold weather and rain the free people of Mameer go out in an angry protest to affirm their resilience

In Karannah village, KarranahNews tweeted a video of a protest that took place in the village:

And in the village of Wadyan, in Sitra, @wadyanmedia tweeted a video of yet another protest:

Human rights activist Maryam Alkhawaja tweeted several pictures [GRAPHIC] of injuries that occurred after police attacked protests today in Bahrain saying:

@MARYAMALKHAWAJA: #BahrainNationalDay: the two who were shot in the eye have lost their eyesight.. These r the type gifts ppl of #bahrain r used to..

December 11 2012

Global Voices Where Every Voice Counts

Every year Human Rights Day provides an opportunity, to many of us, to highlight issues that matter to us and to advocate  human rights for all. This year the spotlight is on the rights of  people - the poor, the  marginalized and the disingenuous, women and  youth and those across the gender spectrum. Every one has the right to be heard and the right to participate.

The idea that every voice counts is one that is very close to the  notion of Global Voices as a platform and as a community. As netizens unite to have their voices heard when the world's authorities argue  on who should run the internet, we decided to ask our  diverse community to participate and speak out on issues that matter to them and look back at issues we have covered over the year bearing in mind that every voice counts.

Global Voices community members make their #VoiceCount

Global Voices community members make their #VoiceCount. Image collage by author.

With Syria and Gaza plunging into information by pulling the plug on the internet, the right to access remained one of the most pertinent issues. Our special coverage included Syria,archiving online reactions to Syria's internet blackout and the resurgence as parts of Syria regained connectivity, protests in Bahrain and Yemen amid media blackout, conflict voices from Caucasus and Sudan revoltsin-depth coverage of Russia's protest movements,bearing witness to Egypt's historic presidential elections and the aftermath and the intense elections in Venezuela, seeking indigenous voices representing 370 million people that speak more than 4000 languages, a spotlight on the forgotten voices of Myanmar's Rohnigya, keeping an eye on the worldwide #occupy movements and SlutWalks a new protest movement defending women's rights and  most importantly monitoring and defending internet freedom,  free speech and freedom to access with Global Voices Advocacy evolving in to a community determined to take a stand.

Then there were other stories that needed the world's attention as we stood true to the notion that we are reminded of today; every voice counts.Qatar's life imprisonment of a poet that praised Arab spring,Russia's crackdown on online satire, women being barred and penalized from using mobile phones in villages in India, stricter SIM card registration process hampering communication in Zambia, Pakistan's consistent pursuit to replicate the great firewall of China, Tajikistan blocking of facebook and summoning Mark Zuckerberg - a move startlingly similar to that of Pakistani authorities, Internet companies overlooking user privacy, the fight for free expression as authorities muscle in more control, we continued to speak out against impunity and for justice for threatened voices, these are the few issues global voices as a community has been able to bring attention to. As we move forward towards the end of the year, there will be a more comprehensive overview of the year through the eyes of the networked.

For now, on Human Rights Day, we stand in solidarity with people around the world and believe in every individual's right to be heard, to participate and be counted. Our commitment remains, to amplify the voices of the networked and to enable and support the indigenous communities to become a part of the larger community.

 

 

December 06 2012

Still Shaking from Kim Kardashian's Bahrain Trip

American socialite and reality show celebrity Kim Kardashian's trip to Bahrain is still making the rounds on news - and social media.

In a series of tweets, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof makes it clear how unhappy he is to be denied a visa to visit Bahrain, where Kardashian was invited to open a milkshake shop on December 1.

He tweets:

@NickKristof: Kim Kardashian says everybody should visit #Bahrain http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/12/03/why-people-are-so-upset-about-kim-kardashians-odd-visit-to-bahrain/ … But repressive Bahrain now denies me a visa.

And he jokes:

@NickKristof: Maybe I'll try to sneak into #Bahrain disguised as Kardashian's long-lost brother. Or as a US weapons salesman.

And the joke takes a life of its own, when others join in:

@NickKristof: Or as a giant tear gas canister? RT @acarvin: @NickKristof Dress up as a tall, delicious milkshake and you'll be just fine.

Several media channels commented on the trip, sparking the amusement of Bahraini netizens. Many are amazed how the news of a television star traveling to a country with unrest takes more headline space than people being killed across the region.

Marwan Bishara tweets:

@marwanbishara: stop hassling kim #kardashian re #Israel, #Palestine #Bahrain (prettiest place on earth) Awaiting her tweet on #Syria, #Milkshake for all

Bahraini cartoonist Ali Albazzaz tweeted this picture:

“Kim Kardashian in Bahrain” a cartoon by Ali Albazzaz

And 3yosh tweeted a picture blaming traffic on King Fahad Causeway, which links Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, on Kardashian's visit to Bahrain:

Traffic at King Fahad causeway photograph shared by @3yosh

جسر البحرين زحمممة

@3yosh: The Bahrain causeway is congested

Protests Continue in Bahrain

A night protest in Bani Jamra, Bahrain

Protestors in Bani Jamra, Bahrain, angry over the injury of Aqeel Mohsin, a 20-year-old Bahraini by police shot in the face. The banner, in Arabic, reads: The blood of the brave, will overthrow the regime. Photograph shared on Twitter by @angryarabia

(more…)

December 02 2012

Kim Kardashian, Tear-Gas and Milkshake in Bahrain

Kim Kardashian was in Bahrain yesterday to open her milkshake shop. Hardline Salafists protested her visit - and were dispersed by police.

Even before her visit, preachers were rallying people against her visit from the pulpits of mosques. On Friday, Suhail Algosaibi tweeted from the weekly Friday prayers [ar]:

الخطيب ينتقد زيارة كيم كرداشيان الى #البحرين و يصفها بالعاهرة…

@SuhailAlgosaibi: The preacher criticised Kim Kardashian's visit to Bahrain and called her a whore

A screen shot of @khalidalkhalifa's RT of Kim Kardashian

Praise for Bahrain: A screen shot of @khalidalkhalifa's RT of Kim Kardashian

Many found the government forces throwing stun grenades - other reports say tear-gas - at the Salafists, who have been on the government's side in its crackdown on pro-democracy protestors, well, funny. Saudi Ali Mohammed tweets:

ههههههههههههههههه اجل متظاهرين ضد كيم كردشيان ورموا عليهم غاز مسيل ، أحد قال لكم تطلعون على ولي أمركم وتفسرون حكمته غلط !؟ #البحرين

@alahlawy29: hahaha! Protestors against Kim Kardashian were hit with tear-gas. Who told you you can go against your guardian (ruler) and misinterpret his judgement?

Meanwhile, the Kardashian visit's promoter, Sheeraz Hasan, whose Twitter profile reads: “Sheeraz, Inc has the authority to bring deals and investment opportunities from around the world to present directly to the Royal Families of Qatar and Bahrain,” brushes off the protests and tweets:

@sheerazhasan: NEW VIDEO: WHAT PROTESTS?? Kim Kardashian loved by the people of Bahrain & wants to return!! http://youtu.be/aE36X2lV85o

He links to this promotional video on YouTube, which shows screaming fans at the milkshake shop opening:

Also, activist Maryam Al Khawajah has written an open letter to Kardashian, inviting her to meet with human rights defenders while in Bahrain.

Wafa Alsayed comments on in inviting Kardashian to dabble with politics saying:


@WafaAlsayed
: No offense, but asking Kim kardashian 2 comment on the political situation in Bahrain is like asking a chipmunk 2 prepare a 3 course dinner

Kardashian, Bahrain's international reputation for the excessive use of tear-gas and milkshake generated a few chuckles on the hashtag #TearGasMilkShake.

Ethan Zuckerman tweets:

@EthanZ: The new national drink of Bahrain: @kimkardashian's Tear Gas Flavored Milkshake. Try one today! http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2241568/Kim-Kardashian-starts-riot-Police-officers-Bahrain-tear-gas-protestors-angry-reality-TV-stars-presence-Gulf-kingdom.html?ito=feeds-newsxml … #TearGasMilkShake

Kim Kardashian posing with camels in Bahrain

Kim Kardashian posing with camels in Bahrain. Photograph shared by .@kimkardashian on Twitter

While in Bahrain, Kardashian spent some time on Twitter, posting her photograph with camels in the desert. She also tweeted praise to Bahrain - calling it “the prettiest place on earth,” before deleting it [see screenshot of Bahrain Foreign Minister's Khalid Alkhalifa's retweet of the original tweet].

And it seems that Kardashian's posters are still flying high in Riffa. Dr Basem Amer tweets his objection:

بعد الانتهاء من حفلة رمز الإباحية #كيم_كارديشان ما زالت صورها معلقة في شوارع الرفاع جهاراً نهاراً ألا تراعون مشاعرنا كمسلمين ؟ #البحرين


@BASEMAAMER
: After completing the party of the symbol of pornography Kim Kardashian, her photographs are still hanging on the streets of Riffa in broad daylight for all to see. Don't you have any respect for our feelings as Muslims?

Further Reading:

UNCUT: Why is Kim Kardashian going to Bahrain?

December 01 2012

Kim Kardashian Does Kuwait and Bahrain

Kim Kardashian completed a visit to Kuwait and is now visiting Bahrain. Here's Brian Whitaker's take on her visit.

November 17 2012

Why is the GCC Quiet about Gaza?

“Gulf countries awfully quiet about Gaza,” tweets Foreign Policy editor Blake Hounshell. Lebanese journalist Antoun Issa adds:

@antissa: Amazing how eager GCC are to arm Arabs to fight each other, while disappearing completely when it comes to Palestine. #Gaza

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is made up of Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

November 05 2012

Bahrain: Who Heard the Bomb Blasts and Who are the Victims?

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011/12.

Bahrain officials announced today that two foreign workers have been killed and a third was seriously injured in five separate bomb blasts in the areas Gudaibiya and Adliya, in the capital Manama.

On Twitter, the news was received with doubt, skepticism and a call for a political solution to end the unrest in the country, following widespread anti-government protests which started on February 14, 2011.

Journalist Adel Marzooq tweets from exile [ar]:

٥ تفجيرات وهمية واعلان مقتل الاسيويين ليس عبثيا، يريدون امتصاص الادانات الدولية لقرار منع التظاهر والمسيرات وتحويلها لادانة الارهاب

@adelmarzooq: Five imaginary explosions and an announcement that Asians have been killed is not haphazard. They want to dilute the international condemnations for the decision to ban protests and rallies and turn them into a condemnation for terrorism

Ahmed Habib asks:

اذا كانت الانفجارات استهدافا للأجانب فهم بكثرة في القرى ولم يتعرض لم أحد فما الداعي للذهاب للعدلية وام الحصم؟!

@ahmdhabib: If the explosions were targeting foreigners, they are aplenty in the villages and no one has attacked them there. So what is the point of going to Adliya and Umm Al Hassam [areas of the capital Manama]?

And Mansour Al Jamri, editor-in-chief of Al Wasat newspaper, writes:

نأمل من وزارة الداخلية ان تنشر في مؤتمرها الصحفي اسماء وجنسيات القتلى والجرحى، اذ من حق وسائل الاعلام معرفة التفاصيل. وشكرا.

@MANSOOR_ALJAMRi: We hope the Ministry of Interior announces in its Press conference the names and nationalities of those killed and injured. It is the right of media to know the details. Thank you

Abu Omar Al Shafiee asks:

هل هناك أخبار عن الاسيويين الذين تعرضوا لحادث دس من قبل احد الدوريات الامنية قبل أيام ؟ هناك روائح كريهه تختق الاجواء هذة الايام ؟

@ALSHAF3EE: Is there news about the Asians who were run over by police patrols a few days ago? There is a bad stench suffocating us these days

Hussain Yousif, a political dissident in exile, adds:

من حق الشعب ان يتسائل عن مصير التحقيق في دهس مركبة تابعة للداخلية آسيويين بين العكر والمعامير في #البحرين، حيث القاتل معروف


@hussain_info
: People have the right to know what happened to the investigation of the Interior Ministry vehicle which ran over Asians between Eker and Maameer as the murderer in known

And Sayed Ahmed Al Alawi casts more doubt:

الشخص الذي عرض على أنه قتيل الانفجار إذا كان موته بسبب ركله للقنبلة محلية الصنع كيف سيصل التفجير لرقبته دون رجله وبطنه وصدره عجيبه هالقنبلة

@SAalalawi: The person who was shown as the one killed in the explosion died because he kicked a locally-made bomb. How come the explosion effected his neck but not his legs, stomach and chest. This is one extraordinary bomb

Sabeeka Al Shamlan hits back, tongue in cheek:

@Sabeeka_A: Back to square zero. Oh wait, who said we even moved from there?

And then she asks [ar]:

في أحد سمع التفجيرات؟ بأذونه؟ لاترد على هالسؤال إذا ماسمعت/سمعتي بأذونك/ج

@Sabeeka_A: Has anyone heard the explosions? With their own ears? Don't respond to this question if you have not heard the explosions, with your own ears

Noor Bahman takes a step further:

@noorbahman: A bomb does kill a victim on the spot but also destroys quite a proportion of the surrounding area the victim was in.

And Salma asks:

@salmasays: Eh.. Where is free and independent media when you need it..

This exasperation has deeper roots. Eyad Ebrahim notes [ar]:

الكل يجذب و أنا صرت ما اصدق أي أحد، لا حكومة ولا جمعيات ولا بطيخ.

@eyade: Everyone lies and I don't really believe anyone - not the government, not the opposition, no one.

Murad Alhayki pleas for a political solution. He says:

كل ما تأخر الحل السياسي تعقدت الأمور أكثر وصعب حلها … دماء الناس تقوض العقل

@muradalhaiki: The more a political solution is delayed, the more complicated matters get and more difficult it is to solve them. People's blood calls for wisdom

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011/12.

November 01 2012

Six Month Jail for Insulting Bahrain King on Twitter

One of four Twitter users, detained in Bahrain and reportedly charged with insulting the country's king, was sentenced to six months in prison today.

Bahraini lawyer Mohammed Abdulameer tweets [ar]:

@wastilawyeR: One of those accused of insulting the King of Bahrain was sentenced by the Criminal Court to six months imprisonment and the confiscation of his laptop and telephone, which were tools in his crime

September 25 2012

Bahrain: Can Democracy and Islam Co-Exist?

Can democracy exist in Islamic societies? This was the topic of conversation between Bahraini bloggers today.

Bahraini artist Al Shaikh raised the issue when he tweeted [ar]:

في المجتمعات الاسلامية من الصعوبةالفصل بين ماهو سياسي وديني ولذا لن تنجح الديمقراطيةحتى لو كتبنا افضل الدساتير وقبلنا بالتناوب السلمي للسلطة

@Anas_Al_Shaikh: It is difficult to separate between what is political and what is religious in Islamic societies and this is why democracy will never succeed even if we write the best constitutions and accept the peaceful rotation of power

Fearless Ba7rainia replies:

الديمقراطيةهي الحل و العلاج لمثل هذه المشاكل إذا تطورت القوانين سيتطور الناس بشكل طبيعي الدولة المدنية هي الخلاص لهذا الشعب

@fearlessbahrain: Democracy is the solution and the remedy for such problems. If laws are developed, people will improve too in a natural way. A civil society is our people's savior

Bahraini journalist Abbas Busafwan has another take. He responds to Al Shaikh's original tweet saying:

والله هالاستنتاج مؤلم، لكنه قد يكون تعميميا، ربما نجحت تجربة تركيا

@abbasbusafwan: This conclusion is really painful. It could be a generalisation. Perhaps Turkey's example is a success

Al Shaikh answers:

تركيا لم توازن بين الشأن السياسي والديني والدليل ان هناك حقوق للشواذ وانا شفتهم بنفسي يتظاهرون في شارع “تقسيم” الشهير هههه

@Anas_Al_Shaikh: Turkey did not balance between religious and political issues. For instance, Turkey has rights for gays, and I saw them myself protesting on the famous Taksim street

And Ahmed Al-haddad adds:

تـركيا ليست في عهد اليوم بل في زمان أتاترك // وتركيا اليوم وأردوغان الشهير أعادوها لما قبل أتتارك

@DiabloHaddad: Turkey isn't today what it was during the rule of Ataturk. The famous Erdogan took Turkey to the pre-Ataturk era

In reply, Busafwan jokes:

اعتقد ان السعودية احسن نموذج للديمقراطية والشورى وحقوق الانسان والاعلام المقتوح والتوازن بين السياسي والديني!

@abbasbusafwan: I think that Saudi Arabia is the best example of democracy, Shura, Human rights, free Press, and balancing between religion and politics

Abu Yousif agrees that politics and religion don't mix:

انا معك،يجب ان لا نخلط الدين والسياسة فهم لا يتفقان،فنصبح نظام قمعراطي مثل ايران،

@xronos2: I agree. We shouldn't mix religion with politics for they don't agree and then we would become a repressive regime like Iran

And Abu Karim says we should improve what we already have instead of importing a Western-style democracy:

مشكلتنا اننا نريد تطبيق النظريات الغربية على مجتمعاتنا بدل البحث عن ما يوجد لدينا وتحديثه

@AbuKarim1: Our problem is that we want to implement Western theories on our societies instead of searching in what we have and modernising it

September 24 2012

Bahrain: A Country for Disgruntled Citizens

Bahraini blogger Ali Al Saeed suggests:

@alialsaeed: Perhaps disgruntled citizens from around the world should consider starting their own country? Worth a try.

September 14 2012

UN Conference Live Stream Blocked in Bahrain

According to activists in Bahrain, a United Nations Human Rights Council live stream has been blocked.

 

Mohamed Al-Maskati, president of Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, spoke about the crackdown on activists in Bahrain, and the ongoing human rights violations. Maryam Al-Khawaja, Deputy Director of the Gulf Center 4 Human Rights, says that Bahraini human rights defenders attending Human Rights Council in Geneva have received death threats.

In addition to censorship, the government of Bahrain has launched an attack against bloggers and activists using social media. Ali Abdulemam, Global Voices author, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison. He has disappeared and no one knows his whereabouts. Nabeel Rajab, human rights defender and president of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights is in prison for posting about human rights violations in Bahrain on Twitter.

September 09 2012

Bahrain: Despite the Ban, Opposition Protests in the Capital

After stopping for a little over three months in light of the Ministry of Interior (MOI) refusing to grant permission to gatherings or marches of the opposition, societies held their second rally in the streets of Manama on Friday [September 7, 2012]. The MOI had announced ahead on Twitter that the gathering is not authorized and participation is illegal. Various similar gatherings in Manama were previously denied permission, which according to a ministry press release is because the capital is not the place to carry protests, citing traffic delays and adverse effects on businesses in the area as reasons for the ban.

Shaikh Ali Salman, the secretary-general of the opposition AlWefaq Islamic Society tweeted to comment that the ban will not stop him personally from attending the protest [ar]:

إذا منعت سوف أنزل إلى عاصمتي ماشياً أو في سيارتي من أجل ممارسة حقي في التظاهر السلمي#يوم العاصمة
@WefaqGS: If I was prevented I will walk to the capital or drive in my car to exercise my right to peaceful protest.

Ali Salman leading one of the protests in Manama on Friday, photo by yfrog user @2012_atoma

Salman was among the first to arrive to Manama for afternoon prayers which he lead in Moemin Mosque, one of the iconic mosques that were closed during the unrest of the 90s as it became a gathering place for opposition leaders at the time.

This video, uploaded by mmeha89 shows part of the protest in Manama:

Among the chants [ar] are a call for the freeing of political prisoners, down with Hamad [the monarch] and the all too familiar Arab Spring protest chant: “The people want the downfall of the regime.”

As hundreds responded to the call to protest, the announced route of the rally along the “Government Avenue” was soon besieged and riot police were stationed along it to prevent crowds from gathering. However, numerous spontaneous protests took place in the back allies of Manama, which were soon dispersed by riot police with stun grenades and tear gas. Protesters carried pictures of detainees, chanted anti-government slogans and stressed their right to protest in the capital. Main entrances to the capital were later blocked by riot police armored vehicles or patrol cars, which diverted traffic to other roads. Pictures of blocked roads and open entrances were spread on Twitter.

Police presence in Manama, Photo by Twitpic @AJalilKhalil

The traffic diversion was not announced by MOI. Instead, it let out a tweet saying that the traffic jams around Manama are due to planned road work in the area [ar]:

ازدحام مروري على شارعي الشيخ خليفة بن سلمان والملك فيصل المؤديان للمحرق لوجود منطقة عمل من الإشارة الضوئية الواقعة بالقرب من فندق الريجنسي وحتى الإشارة الضوئية بالقرب من فندق الشيراتون، وجاري العمل على تسهيل الحركة المرورية
@moi_bahrain : Traffic congestion on Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman and King Faisal Roads leading to Muharraq because of planned roadwork near the traffic light by the Regency Hotel up until the traffic light of the Sheraton Hotel, we are working to ease traffic.

Skirmishes and small protests continued throughout the day. The situation because tense by the maghreb [sunset] prayers, when groups of riot police surrounded the mosque Ali Salman prayed in, in anticipation of the protesters regrouping demonstrating again.

The day ended with the arrest of six protesters as announced by MOI. MOI has also issued a press releasethe next day stating that criminal charges have been filed with the public prosecutor against AlWefaq for calling for the protest, even though five other opposition societies have called their supporters to protest on social media.

Many were not pleased with the opposition carrying their protests despite the ban and a Twitter campaign under the hashtag “Close Down AlWefaq” #أغلقوا_الوفاق was launched.  A number of public figures also expressed their concern. Among them was foreign minister Shaikh Khalid AlKhalifa, who tweeted [ar]:

على الوفاق ان تحترم سلطة قوانين مملكة البحرين .. و الا فلتريحنا و تذهب بطائفيتها و عنجهيتها الى #كوكب_آخر
@khalidalkhalifa: AlWefaq should respect the authority of the laws of the Kingdom of Bahrain, or else it should comfort us by taking its sectarianism and its arrogance to “another planet”.

September 04 2012

Bahrain: Appeals Court Upholds Life Imprisonment for Opposition Leaders

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

Bahrain's High Court of Appeals upheld jail sentences against 20 opposition figures accused of plotting to overthrow the regime today [September 4, 2012]. While international human rights organisations describes them as “prisoners of conscience,” Bahraini authorities and the local Press call them “terrorists” for their role in anti-government protests, which started in Bahrain on February 14, 2011.

Eight of them have been slapped with life in prison; the rest have been given jail sentences ranging from five to 15 years.

Supporters called the trial a sham, rejecting its ruling and pledging to continue with anti-government demonstrations.

Former member of parliament and member of the opposition Al Wefaq Society (the forming of political parties is banned in Bahrain) Abduljalil Khalil tweets [ar]:

محكمة التمييز كانت أبطلت تهمة تشكيل التنظيم وقلب النظام لعدم وجود أدلة واليوم تأتي محكمة الاستئناف تؤيد أحكام المحكمة العسكرية!
@AJalilKhalil: The Court of Cassation had dropped the charges of forming a group and over throwing the regime for lack of evidence. Today, the High Court of Appeals upholds the verdicts of the Military Court!

Ala'a Shehabi was trying to attend the trial. She tweets:

@alaashehabi: None of the families were allowed in & lawyers coming out of court are saying that some charges were dropped but prison sentences upheld

She adds:

@alaashehabi: Upholding sentences proves absolutely no difference betwn military justice & this so called ‘civilian' justice.Same mentality rules #bahrain

Director of Human Rights Defenders Program at Human Rights First Brian Dooley asks:

@dooley_dooley: ‘…you can't have a real dialogue with parts of the peaceful opposition in jail,' Obama told #Bahrain in May 2011. What's he saying today?

In another tweet, he remarks:

@dooley_dooley: The verdicts on the 13 confirm #Bahrain's reform process is a hoax. Where is the int. community now?

Sabeeka Al Shamlan plays with words:

القضاء بالعدل أو القضاء على العدل
@Sabeeka_A: Ruling with justice or ruling out justice?

And Salma says:

قلة العقل مصيبة يالبحرين..

The lack of intellect is a catastrophe in Bahrain

Meanwhile, Zohoor claims that the verdict was announced by the Bahrain News Agency even before the judge pronounced his decision. She tweets:

@sudaif3: Biggest farce verdicts announced by the Bahrain News Agency before being pronounced by the judge!#BhDecisionDay #FreeBhLeaders

And, from Egypt, Tarek Shalaby offers solidarity:


@tarekshalaby
: Solidarity with our brothers and sisters in #Bahrain suffering from the brutal, sectarian monarchy overlooked by Saudi. Power to the people.

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

September 03 2012

Bahrain: Leading Opposition Figures on Trial

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

Bahrain's High Court of Appeals is expected to announce its verdict in the case of 13 leading opposition figures accused of plotting to overthrow the regime tomorrow [September 4, 2012]. While international human rights organisations describes them as “prisoners of conscience,” Bahraini authorities and the local Press call them “terrorists” for their role in anti-government protests, which started in Bahrain on February 14, 2011.

Researcher and former Bahrain resident Marc Owen Jones writes:


@marcowenjones
: Verdicts of the #Bahrain13 tomorrow. It was meant to be 3 weeks ago, but judge was unable to read a piece of paper with verdicts on #Bahrain

Secular Waad leader Ibrahim Sharif carried by supporters

Secular Waad leader Ibrahim Sharif carried by supporters in an undated photograph tweeted by @Waad_bh. Sharif is among the opposition figures whose verdict is expected tomorrow

Human rights activist Jihan Kazerooni notes:


@jihankazerooni
: 2morrow s d trial of #Bahrain13 opposition leaders who r prisoners of conscience according to #Un #HRW #HRF & all HR organization #Bahrain

And Maryam Alkhawaja, who is the daughter of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, stresses:


@MARYAMALKHAWAJA
: Tomorrow is the trial of the #Bahrain13 and @angryarabiya, prisoners of conscience, they shouldn't be in prison to begin with #Bahrain

Meanwhile, unrest is brewing on the streets, with threats from protesters that they will not leave public squares until their demands are met.

Activist Nader AbdulEmam tweets:

نرجع للبيوت وماذا نقول للشهداء وعوائلهم نرجع ونبقى تحت رحمة الظلم يتحكم فينا وفي حرياتنا وخيراتنا واهمون بل تحلمون . ‎‫#لن_نرجع_للبيوت‬‏
@NaderAbdulEmam: We return to our homes and what do we tell the martyrs and their families? We return home and remain under the mercy of injustice to control us and our freedoms and our wealth? You are not delusional only, you are dreaming. We will not return to our homes.

In another tweet, he notes:

مهما اختلفت سقوف المعارضة بين اسقاط واصلاح الا انهم متفقين كلهم ان لا رجعة للبيوت دون ارجاع السلطات الثلاث المسروقة ‎‫#لن_نرجع_للبيوت‬‏
@NaderAbdulEmam: Whatever the difference between the opposition is, whether it is for the downfall of the regime or its reform, they agree that returning home is not an option without the return of the three powers which have been robbed. We will not return to our homes.

Former Member of Parliament Ali Alaswad stresses:

شعب ‎‫#البحرين‬‏ في قراره بعدم ترك الساحات يعي تماماً بأن الحقوق المدنية والاجتماعية والسياسية له ستتحقق من خلال سلمية وعدالة حراكه المطلبي.

@am_aswad: The people of Bahrain, in their decision not to leave the squares, fully comprehend that civil, social and political rights will only be achieved through the peacefulness and justice of their demands movement

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

Bahrain: “Our Women are Iron Women”

Bahraini Twitter users took a break from politics and had some fun this morning on the microblogging social network. Artist Anas Al Shaikh read a news article which said that an Iraqi woman had killed herself in protest against her husband watching dubbed Turkish soap operas.

Turkish soap operas have replaced the Mexican ones in recent years. Dubbed into Arabic, they are popular with audiences who follow the episodes, which sometimes run for months.

Al Shaikh shared the newsy tidbit with his Twitter followers and asked:

خبر في صحيفة..عراقية تحرق نفسها احتجاجا على مشاهدة زوجها المسلسلات التركية… ليش ما سمعنا عن امرأة بحرينية قامت بنفس الفعل؟ ههههه

@Anas_Al_Shaikh
: A news item in a newspaper .. An Iraqi woman burnt herself to death in protest against her husband watching Turkish soap operas. Why haven't we heard that a Bahraini woman has committed the same thing? hahaha

The pun was not lost and the comment sparked a lot of reactions.

Bahraini women at the forefront of anti-government protests which started in Bahrain in February 2011

Bahraini women have been at the forefront of anti-government protests which started in Bahrain in February 2011. flickr photograph from Al Jazeera English used under (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Um Salman says:

لأن المرأة البحرينية عاقلة ما تسوى المسلسلات التركية او اي شئ اخر تذبح نفسها

@Umsalman2011
: Because Bahraini women are mature, she knows that Turkish soap operas or anything else are not worth killing herself for

Esraa adds:

خله يطالع .عليه بالعافية .اخر شي من اللي قاعدة جدامه ؟؟ أنا .خخخ ويعني لو طالع اش بيسوي ؟ بيسافر لهم وﻻ بيطلعون له من الشاشة
@esraa_f_84: Let him watch. At the end of the day, he only has what is in front of him [his wife]. What will he do if he watches them? Will he travel to them or will they come out of the screen for him?

And Fatima Salim notes:

المرأة البحرينية ضد الصدمات المرأة الحديدية
@Fatim_Sam: Bahraini women are resistant to shocks. They are iron women
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