Tunisian journalist Habib Toumi, who works in Bahrain, breaks the story on his blog:
“The Ministry of Culture and Information has made the decision to freeze the activities of Al Jazeera Satellite Channel office in Bahrain after the channel violated professional conventions and did not comply with the laws and regulations of the press, printing and publication law,” the ministry said in a brief statement carried by Bahrain News Agency (BNA). “The temporarily freeze will be lifted after the ministry and the channel agree on a memorandum of understanding that defines their relations in a way that preserves the rights of both parties
according to the principle of reciprocity in exercising media activities in both countries,” the statement said. Bahrain in May 2002 banned the Doha-based channel from reporting from Bahrain.
The information minister said that the ban was imposed because the television station was deliberately seeking to harm Bahrain and that it was biased towards Israel and against Bahrain. Arab countries that barred the pan-Arab Al Jazeera station include Kuwait, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco and Palestine.
In a follow up post, Toumi reports on Al Jazeera's reaction to the news:
“We were surprised and puzzled by news that Bahrain’s culture and information ministry has decided to temporarily freeze the activities of our bureau in Bahrain,” the pan-Arab network said. “While we deeply
regret the decision that had not been officially conveyed to us, we stress that our editorial line and professional policy in covering news and issues whether their locations have not changed or been amended. We remain invariably committed to the motto we have kept since we were launched,” Al Jazeera said on its website.
The Ministry of Culture and Information's decision to shut the station's office down is all the more confusing, since Al Jazeera does not even have a bureau in Bahrain.
According to Ammar Mohammed, who works for Al Jazeera:
Moving on to Twitter, users were left scratching their heads for a ‘logical’ reason behind the move – the second against the outspoken channel in eight years.
Sultan Al Qassemi, from the UAE, tweets:
Bahrain shuts down Al Jazeera channel operation. It may be attributed to the shooting incident of Bahraini sailors by Qatari coastal guards
In response to my question on why the channel's non-existent office was shut, Bahraini SuadAK responds:
In a follow up tweet, Suad AK writes:
On his popular blog, Mahmood Al Yousif, of Mahmood's Den, reacts:
Is it fair to say then that Bahrain’s government strategy to deal with all its problems is to firmly bury its head in the sand? With the various and consistent curbs applied to the media in all its forms it certainly suggests this “strategic” direction.
@SuadAK And where will it stop? Will they ask the Guardian, New York Times and Washington Post to ask for permission too?
Meanwhile, BahrainRights, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights’ account, tweets the links for the videos of the report which allegedly led to the suspension of the Al Jazeera operation in Bahrain. The centre, which has also been shut down by the Bahraini authorities, tweets:
And the second part of the video is here: