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News re-Blog

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Inclusion of Bahrain: Curt Hopkins Reply to the Readers & Commenters of News Blog re-Blog

On Tuesday, August 16th, we saw many comments to one of our blog postings titled 'Bahrain Ranked Third - Top Five Most Dangerous Places to Blog' which disagreed that Bahrain was in fact a dangerous place to blog in. The comments left on that blog posting argued that the Spirit Of America and their Director (who had published the list of 'Top 5 Dangerous Places to Blog' and included Bahrain in 3rd place), Curt Hopkins were ignorant of the actual blogging scene in Bahrain and stressed that Bahrain did not need to be included on the Top 5 list. The Director of Spirit of America & the Committee to Protect Bloggers has now posted his reply on their blogs and we have reblogged his reply below:
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The inclusion of Bahrain on the list has occasioned some discussion on this site and others. Most of the criticism takes the form of implying the director is an Arab-hating secret agent in Jewish pay. That's typical, unfortunately, and we'll say no more about it.

There have been a couple of people, however, whose comments were more reasonable and deserve responses. The main thrust of their objection is that other countries are more repressive and that no blogger in Bahrain has been arrested just for being a blogger.

Here is our response and explanation for the current inclusion of Bahrain on this list.

First, this list has been created for a practical reason. That reason is to answer the question, "Which countries could benefit from a comprehensive set of safer/anonymous blogging instructions?" The reason we did not include Iraq, for instance, is that it has no stable central government (yet) with a firm grip on that country's internet. The reason we did not include Israel is that, although it questioned, but did not arrest, two people for electronic activity, it has a largely unfiltered internet. The reason we did not include Cuba or North Korea is that they have no blogosphere to speak of. Etc.

The reason we did include Bahrain it that it has one of the most energetic internet filtering regimes in the world. (http://www.opennetinitiative.net/studies/bahrain/)

Additionally, to blog, and to do other electronic communication in Bahrain, is not without risk. The blogger Ali Abdulemam and two other administrators of the bulletin board BahrainOnline were arrested and detained for allowing free speech on the company's boards. Was his arrest based on his blog? Strictly speaking, it was not. Nevertheless, it was based on an 'incitement,' that consisted only of having allowed someone else to post electronically, an analogous undertaking.

Also, at least four prominent blogs in Bahrain have been blocked or shut down by governmental authorities for the content that appeared there.

These are the reasons that Bahrain was chosen and other countries were not. A reminder: This is not an exhaustive list! This is a beginning, which we've made in order to produce materials that will benefit the blogosphere in general.

Many Bahrainis, including both bloggers and governmental officials, understand the director's personal affection for the country and its blogosphere. They also understand that affection will not cloud our collective judgment on the issues at hand.



Source: Anonymous Blogging | reBlogged By: News Blog re-Blog
Filed Under: Bahrain, , Threatened Bloggers | Permalink



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I tried posting a response to him on his site but he's deleting critical comments.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous #  

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OK, let's take a look at your jusfication here:

CH: "The inclusion of Bahrain on the list has occasioned some discussion on this site and others. Most of the criticism takes the form of implying the director is an Arab-hating secret agent in Jewish pay. That's typical, unfortunately, and we'll say no more about it."

No one’s implied that you’re an ‘Arab hating secret agent in Jewish pay’. Instead you were accused of being ignorant and having an arbitrary approach. Trying to taint the debate as being anti-Semitic because questions were raised about your decision to link the Committee to Protect Bloggers site with a site run by former Israeli intelligence officers and anti Arab rants is unacceptable.

CH "First, this list has been created for a practical reason. That reason is to answer the question, "Which countries could benefit from a comprehensive set of safer/anonymous blogging instructions?" The reason we did not include Iraq, for instance, is that it has no stable central government (yet) with a firm grip on that country's internet."

The prime suspect in the murder of blogger Steve Vincent is the Iraqi authorities in Basra. They might not have a stable government as yet, but they’re operating death squads which have now targeted a bloggers critical of the authorities. Executions of bloggers sounds like a ‘firm grip’ to me and in such circumstances they might benefit from a comprehensive set of safer/anonymous blogging instructions. Nonetheless you state that it’s more dangerous elsewhere, which says a lot about your judgement.

CH: "The reason we did not include Israel is that, although it questioned, but did not arrest, two people for electronic activity, it has a largely unfiltered internet. The reason we did not include Cuba or North Korea is that they have no blogosphere to speak of. Etc."

I hesitate even to raise this point about Israel because I know I’ll end up with more claims of anti-semitism, but Israel did arrest a blogger as reported by the Jerusalem Post. Why you’re continuing to deny that Israel arrested anyone after its been pointed out here and elsewhere is a mystery. Israel wouldn’t keep coming up if you didn’t keep insisting that they’ve not arrested anyone.

So by the criteria you’re using to define how dangerous a country is depends not whether a country shoots or arrests bloggers, but the extent to which the internet’s filtered. Very much in keeping with your approach.

CH: "The reason we did include Bahrain it that it has one of the most energetic internet filtering regimes in the world. (http://www.opennetinitiative.net/studies/bahrain/)"

This is ‘the Reason’? I looked for a reference to the ‘most energetic internet filtering regimes’ but couldn’t find it. What it said was: ‘Overall, while Bahrain does implement Internet filtering through its primary ISP, Batelco, the level of blocking is extremely low, indicating that this effort is likely symbolic in nature and does not present a serious challenge for its citizens in finding Internet content.’

CH: "Additionally, to blog, and to do other electronic communication in Bahrain, is not without risk. The blogger Ali Abdulemam and two other administrators of the bulletin board BahrainOnline were arrested and detained for allowing free speech on the company's boards. Was his arrest based on his blog? Strictly speaking, it was not. Nevertheless, it was based on an 'incitement,' that consisted only of having allowed someone else to post electronically, an analogous undertaking."

Likewise this applies to Israel – despite your continued denials - and refusal to list them in the Top Five (which includes seven countries anyway).

CH: "Also, at least four prominent blogs in Bahrain have been blocked or shut down by governmental authorities for the content that appeared there."

Which prominent blogs have been shut down? Name them.

Posted by Anonymous MD #  

~Oo°~

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What?

Well... it's rather difficult to blog in China and Iran and probably from Syria too. You probably can't say anything critical of them, without getting beaten on...

Kindly

Augurwell
Chesshire by Severn
Canada

Posted by Anonymous null #  

~Oo°~

-

What?

Well... it's rather difficult to blog in China and Iran and probably from Syria too. You probably can't say anything critical of them, without getting beaten on...

Kindly

Augurwell
Chesshire by Severn
Canada

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous #  

~Oo°~

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