Bahrain court jails six for insulting king on Twitter

DUBAI Wed May 15, 2013 1:57pm EDT

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DUBAI (Reuters) - A Bahraini court jailed six people for a year on Wednesday for insulting King Hamad bin Issa al Khalifa in messages on the microblogging site Twitter, the official news agency said.

The six were accused of writing remarks "undermining the values and traditions of Bahrain's society towards the king on Twitter," the Bahrain News Agency quoted the head of the public prosecutor's office, Nayef Youssef, as saying in a statement.

He said freedom of opinion and expression were guaranteed by the Gulf Arab island state's constitution, law and international conventions, but should not be used in a way that contradicted the norms of society.

The news agency gave no further information about the six. It was not immediately known whether they had any role in pro-democracy ferment that has shaken Bahrain, a strategic U.S. ally facing Iran across the Gulf, since early 2011.

Home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, Bahrain has faced unrest since February of that year, pitting a Shi'ite Muslim-dominated opposition against the minority Sunni-led government, led by the Al Khalifa family.

An initial uprising was crushed, dozens of people were killed and authorities razed "Pearl Square" where the mostly Shi'ite demonstrators camped out in central Manama.

Now weekly sessions of a reconciliation process between government and opposition known as the "national dialogue" take place outside Manama. But the political atmosphere remains tense, with near nightly skirmishes between youths and police.

Shi'ites complain of discrimination in jobs and government while their loyalty in turn is questioned by members of the Sunni ruling family, bound by historical and marriage ties to neighboring Saudi Arabia.

The government denies opposition allegations of discrimination and of arbitrary arrests and abuses by security forces. It has accused Shi'ite Iran of stoking the unrest, something the Islamic Republic has consistently denied.

(Reporting by William Maclean; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (1)
Reuters1945 wrote:
“He said freedom of opinion and expression were guaranteed by the Gulf Arab island state’s constitution, law and international conventions, but should not be used in a way that contradicted the norms of society.”

And for such brutal governments as Bahrain, their concept of “the norms of society” means it is normal for a select few to rule the many with an Iron Fist, and continuously use excessive ruthlessness and brutality to stomp out and extinguish any and all with opposing views.

How very tragic that the US government must continually turn a blind eye to the obscene brutality of the many nations where considerations of geo-political power is involved such as the need to maintain a military base of operations for such entities as the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

We indeed live in a dirty world, and always have, wherein the perceived necessity to survive from a military point of view creates strange and quite disgusting “bedfellows” and alliances.

How terrible it must be to have to live in all those countries, with their Stone Age mentalities of Kings and their Royal Dynastic Families, where one can be arrested and thrown into jail for years for the simple “crime” of expressing and sharing one’s thoughts and opinions with others.

Welcome to the “Kingdoms of Fear” where State power is rigidly maintained by the intimidation of the many by the few whilst the US et al, must forever “Hear no Evil, See no Evil and Speak no Evil” lest they offend in the least way those brutal rulers whose cooperation they require to maintain the “balance of power”.

There are no easy answers and/or solutions to these vexing challenges but only the numbing awareness of how truly sad it all is and how powerless we are to discover preferable alternatives.

May 15, 2013 3:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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