Bahrain toughens penalties for insulting king

MANAMA Wed Feb 5, 2014 5:55am EST

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa departs after his meeting with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at Number 10 Downing Street in London August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa departs after his meeting with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at Number 10 Downing Street in London August 6, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

Related Topics

MANAMA (Reuters) - The king of Bahrain has approved a law imposing a jail sentence of up to seven years and a fine of up to 10,000 dinars ($26,500) for anyone who publicly insults him.

King Hamad's measure highlights the sensitivity of Bahrain and other Gulf Arab states to criticism of senior officials and ruling family members as well as to political dissent. Courts in Kuwait and Qatar have imposed jail terms on several nationals for insulting their rulers in past years.

The new law, reported by the state Bahrain News Agency on Tuesday, says the penalties apply to "whoever has insulted, in any kind of public manner, the king of Bahrain, or its flag, or its national emblem".

A previous law stipulated that anyone who "offends the Emir of the country, the national flag or emblem" would be jailed, but did not set a term. Under the penal code, any prison term must last 10 days to three years unless otherwise specified.

Bahraini lawyer Jalila Sayed told Reuters the new law stipulated a tougher prison sentence of one to seven years as well as a fine of 1,000 to 10,000 dinars for insulting the king.

The Gulf Arab island is a U.S. ally which has long provided a base for the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet. It has faced increasing criticism over its human rights record in the past three years.

Sunni Muslim-ruled Bahrain has been shaken by persistent unrest since mostly Shi'ite Muslim demonstrators took to the streets in February 2011 to call for greater democracy.

Stalled reconciliation talks between the Sunni ruling family and the Shi'ite opposition were recently revived after the intervention of Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, seen as a relative moderate in the royal family.

But mistrust between the Shi'ite opposition and the Saudi-backed al-Khalifa family remains high three years after the authorities quelled the initial wave of protests.

Demonstrators still frequently clash with police in Bahrain, which is caught up in a regional struggle for influence between Shi'ite power Iran and Sunni heavyweight Saudi Arabia. ($1 = 0.3770 Bahraini dinars)

(Additional reporting by Farishta Saeed in Manama; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by William Maclean and Alistair Lyon)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (2)
I was thinking about insulting the King of Bahrain right here on this comment board…but then I remembered that the NSA routinely shares its raw data with Israel and that Israel is free to do what they want with the data.

Israel may have already sold information on me and millions of other Americans to the Bahraini royal family….they might know how to find me and hack my electronic accounts etc…, I will refrain from insulting the King of Bahrain and the Israelis.

Tin foil hat stuff? Not really…a Snowden leak, last September, exposed the memo of understanding between Israel and the NSA.

The NY Times did not report the Snowden leak, until prodded to do so, claiming the story was not news worthy. There is no outrage over this in the US…very few Americans are aware of the NSA-Israel deal.

Here’s a link to the story:

The Israelis are free to do what they wish with all that sensitive data…and we give the information to them for free……such a deal.

Feb 05, 2014 6:29am EST  --  Report as abuse
texas.alice wrote:
The insult would have to detrimental or just a slur of words then someone who could interpret the law of Bahrain and describe to the King that if the insult is verbal or visual because just demeaning someone because he had a minor issue should not constitute legal actions or judicial reprimand due to the fact that he is a king. A prime example is that I was forced into a life style and yet I was born into the world of a secret society and yet the Queen of England could just state my name Tanja Katharina Ahrens and renounce me and I don’t have a chance to determine why would you as a Queen of England have the chance to just state my name and okay! I was born on the 31st day of July in the year of 1965 and wow! in 1997 I am accused of a crime when this Diana Spencer is … and yet I am infracted in the in the city I live in for a Mercedes and I have never owned a car like this and in 2001 after William of Wales decides to blurt out I am free and begins to reconsider Katherine Middleton to be a woman he wants to keep a relationship with and as I am almost killed in a car accident in 2001 when these two get back together and okay! now what I have to die I hope not because as I find more and more information I realize I am the one who was born in the Freemasonic secret society I am the daughter of the man who is my father and now I have to realize okay ! I am to lose everything after working 34 years seven days a week of my life and what Royal has ever work seven days a week and why is it that this precludes to the fact that I am the one who lived through 19 years of turmoil since 1997 when I graduated with my accounting audit tax degree and my CPA exam in stolen and my credit cards are robbed and my car is ripped off and every day more and more happens and now I am stuck again working seven days a week and 9 years of no vacation no health benefits no full time work no car no nothing and my retirement is gone and what is going to happen next?

Feb 09, 2014 11:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus