“Retweet Government” Criminalizes Follow and Retweet
2019-06-08 - 3:54 am
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): It is ironic that Bahrain, which is known as the "Retweet Island" for being fully obedient to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi's will, is preventing its citizens from "following" or "retweeting" anti-government accounts and incriminating anyone who follows such accounts or retweets their tweets.
The Ministry of Interior posted a tweet (both in Arabic and English) on its Twitter account threatening citizens and residents with punishment if they follow accounts that "promote sedition". "Those who follow inflammatory accounts that promote sedition and circulate their posts will be held legally accountable," it said.
Anti-cybercrime: Those who follow inciting accounts that promote sedition and circulate their posts will be held legally accountable— Ministry of Interior (@moi_bahrain) May 30, 2019
The Bahrain island of retweets or "Retweet Government"- to be more precise- is now criminalizing retweeting. This is just a bad joke. An even worse joke is what the regime describes as "accounts of sedition and incitement". It is known that the Interior Ministry isn't concerned with sedition and incitement. All that matters to it is confronting whoever opposes the regime and its tyranny, corruption, monopoly of power and wealth. The accounts that the Ministry deems inflammatory are those that belong to dissidents and anti-government media, or those that include any form of criticism against the tiring economic and living conditions or policies, as well as naturalization and other pressing issues. However, the accounts that have been spreading sectarianism since 2011 and widening the sectarian rift between Sunnis and Shiites in the country, the Takfir of Shiites, deeming them apostates and traitors are considered "honorable" accounts in the eyes of the government.
These unique repressive measures came after the King of Bahrain gave the green light to the Interior Ministry on May 20, 2019 to put an end to the remaining small space in which a number of citizens express some of their objections and complaints- a space where very few people still have the courage to write using their real or fake names.
Then in the presence of the heads of both the Shura Council and Parliament, the King said: "We have directed, in this regard, the competent security agencies to be strict when dealing with cases of misuse of social media outlets. There is no place for anyone who goes against the law."
Harsh measures were taken against a number of tweeters, who do not oppose the government, such as journalist Ibrahim Al-Sheikh, who was arrested in April and then released quickly after the prime minister interceded for him. Later, his column in the Gulf News newspaper disappeared and he stopped writing. Also, former Brotherhood MP Mohammed Khaled, who appeared in a video following his release after being detained for two days, announced that he shut down his Twitter account.
After the Arad land plot issue, a number of pro-government tweeters, who expressed their rejection of the conversion of state-owned land to private ownership, i.e. transferring it to the son of the Royal Court Minister, were summoned. After the mall construction project on that land plot was stopped, lawyer Abdullah Hashem, who led the war against the project of the Royal Court Minister's son, was arrested.
This was followed by accusations against human rights activists Yousif Al-Muhafda and Hasan Abulnabi claiming that they ran the "Na'eb Ta'eb" account that is linked to the royal courts conflict in Bahrain. Account of journalist Adel Marzouq was then accused of "spreading sedition".
Lawyer Abdullah Hachem, who was released a week after being imprisoned on charges of publishing "false" news that would harm public order pending trial, commented on the Interior Ministry's threat criminalizing "Follow" and "Retweet" saying: "Without social media, which is the gate of modern freedom, no one would have noticed the crowds of unemployed citizens, the domination of foreigners in the labor market, the bankruptcy of the institutions and companies of citizens and merchants, imprisoned civilians, deprivation of families of their breadwinners as well as education problems. We are people defending our lives as we defended and will defend our country Bahrain."
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