Bloggers in Bahrain are fuming at a decision by the country's Minister of Information to block access to scores of websites, as well as prevent access to proxy sites which enable surfers to get to sites in a roundabout manner.
Ammaro is defiant:
MINISTRY; HERE'S A SPECIAL MESSAGE FOR YOU. YOU CAN BLOCK A DOOR, YOU CAN BLOCK TWO, BUT YOU'LL NEVER BE ABLE TO CENSOR THE INTERNET, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT. THERE ARE A MILLION AND ONE WAYS TO GET AROUND YOUR BLOCKADES, AND YOU'LL NEVER KEEP UP WITH THEM.
Hussain Marhoon has a slightly different position:
Mohammed Marhoon also has a question:
The Redbelt says:
Let me try to paint you a picture:
It is the 1980’s. No internet and no Satellite TV channels and nothing. The only communications we have with the outside world are videotapes, cassettes, books and magazines. In these simpler times, banning something would actually work. If the government says for a reason or another that a film for example is unacceptable and not wanted, the majority of the population, if not all, will not get to see it. Tapes will be easily found and confiscated. And then what? Banning media at that age was quite effective. But that was a long, long, LONG time ago. Just look at my brother, he was a mere idea in ’86 and was born in ’87. Today he is a 186 cm tall man, with a goatee, driving license and a college degree. Media has grown that much too.
Eyad wonders about the business logic:
Let’s not look at the internet as the super highway of information but look at it as a product, the people in their homes are paying a good amount of money and on a monthly bases just to access the internet and have a good time doing so, based on that fact [telecommunication companies] are heavily investing in networks and technology to get that connection to every home and business in the country; what if people based on giving these circumstances stop subscribing to internet services or resorting to other options like subscription sharing, how can these ISP’s justify their investment and effort to improve services when the Government is not helping at all.
We have been blessed with a mind of our own that we can use to make decisions and distinguish between right and wrong. I don’t need anyone from outside coming and telling me what is right and what is wrong.
Yagoob makes a similar point – and has a request for the Minister:
People should be free to do whatever they want online, whether it’s safe or sinful is really none of the government’s business… We are not cattle that need to herded and shown the ‘righteous’ or better put ‘the government’s’ way. […] Your Excellency, blocking these websites will in the short and long term continue to undermine the freedoms given to the Bahraini people through the constitution and depriving useful websites from the residents of Bahrain for no reason whatsoever. Please reconsider and lift the ban off these websites and let us as a people grow more knowledgeable, educated and inspired…
Hussain Yousif says:
I would like to thank the government for reminding us that Bahrain is still a new version of a third word country where freedom is something to talk about but not to experience.
Silly Bahraini Girl is scathing:
This isn't yet another move to curtail my freedom of expression as I am free to say and write what I want, not that anyone will listen to me. What I am not free to do is surf the Internet as I please, because I am a child in the eyes of the authorities – a child who should be told what I am allowed and not allowed to read. And since no one is listening, I would like to thank the authorities for blocking access to all those websites and would like to request it to block access to the entire Internet as frankly, we have no use with it.
Sous, a Swedish woman living in Bahrain, is furious:
THIS IS INSANE! IMMENSLY INSANE!! I CAN’T BLOODY BREATHE! THIS IS INSANE!
ماذا استفاد المواطن أو الدولة من قرارات الحجب غير تراجع سمعة البحرين ومسيرتها الاصلاحية وانعدام الشفافية وانتهاك حرية التعبير وإرجاعنا الي عصور التخلف والظلام؟
Mohammed Zainal is in disbelief:
It is sad, seriously its not funny, my previous post was about how technology is evolving and how people are using it to develop new applications everyday, changing the media landscape, inspiring people with the web2.0 ++ tools and elements …
Is this what our “Age of Engage” ought to be?
MuJtAbA AlMoAmEn thinks that blocking sites is not the solution:
ثم إنني لا أرى أية فائدة تقنياً من المنع فالوسائل كثيرة ، كما وإني مع عدم رضاي بالجو الطائفي المشحون المقبل للإنفجار إلا أنني أتقبل ما يحصل لأن مصدره شعب حقيقي مأزوم ومشحون ومتشرب للطائفية ، فما يحصل على المنتديات هو يعبر بدرجة كبيرة عن آراء تلك الفئة الغير قليلة في مجتمعنا ، ويبقى الحل سياسياً لا بيد وزيرة الإعلام ولا غيرها
Hayat questions how the decision has been made:
Qassim Ahmed has an idea:
In another post, Ammaro has decided he's figured out what's really going on:
Remember the Matrix? Remember how the whole world you lived in, which you believed was real, was in fact completely made up? Just a mirage? That's probably what the internet is in Bahrain. The internet was all a mirage created by the Bahrain government, to let you think that you're connecting to the outside world, when in reality we are kept very isolated from everything and everyone else. All the sites you've ever visited were set up by creative individuals in the Ministry of Information; every single one. There's a guy who writes the CNN website, and makes up the world news, another guy who writes the BBC website. It's sort of obvious that they're sitting next to each other when doing this; the news is almost exactly the same on both sites… […] We've been living a lie. The new website bans aren't really websites being ‘blocked’. It's actually a side effect from the Global Credit Crunch, where the Ministry has had to fire a large number of employees because of a shortage of funds, and couldn't sustain as many websites as it used to. Therefore the ban.