Rabat - Al- Wasat, the only independent newspaper in Bahrain, was reportedly suspended on Sunday for ostensibly supporting protests in Morocco.
Rabat – Al- Wasat, the only independent newspaper in Bahrain, was reportedly suspended on Sunday for ostensibly supporting protests in Morocco.
The publication was accused by Bahrain’s Ministry of Information of “recurrent violation of the law, spreading that which would stir division within the community and undermine the Kingdom of Bahrain’s relations with other countries.”
At issue was an article that appeared on page 19 of the Sunday edition of the publication that allegedly “included a defamation of a sisterly Arab country.” According to Mansoor Al-Jamri, the editor in chief of Al-Wasat, the column printed on that page discussed the ongoing protests in the northern Rif region of Morocco.
The protests in Morocco, centered in Al-Hoceima, have grabbed headlines around the world as the protests grew and leader Nasser Zefzafi was arrested. Protesters have called for economic development and access to social services and, since the arrest of leaders, guarantees of civil rights.
Al-Jamri defended the publication of the column explaining that the newspaper covered both the perspectives of the Moroccan government and the protesters. He characterized the suspension of the publication by the Minister of Information as “harsh and shocking.”
The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, based in London, told Yahoo News that this was “the latest in an escalated crackdown on independent civil society.”
This is not the first time that Al-Wasat has been suspended since its establishment in 2002. During a government crackdown in April 2011, Al-Jamri was forced out of his position and the paper did not publish on April 3, 2011. Al-Jamri was reinstated as editor-in-chief in August 2011 and has served in that position ever since.
In August 2015 and again in January 2017 Al-Wasat was also suspended for allegedly “sowing sedition” and “harming national unity.”