The Bahrain Ministry of Interior announced the arrest of yet another netizen, who reportedly faces accusations of “inciting hatred against the regime.”
The satirist mirco-blogger, nicknamed Takrooz, was arrested at the Bahrain International Airport, while on his way back from Thailand, said the ministry in a statement on June 18, 2014, without disclosing his name.
A day later, many Bahrainis were fuming on Twitter, saying the arrest was futile and served no purpose other than to further demonstrate the government's true colours in stifling opposition voices online. Scores of netizens have been arrested by the regime since anti-government protests started in Bahrain on February 14, 2011. Among them are Mahmood Al-Yousif, Mohamed Almaskati and Global Voices author Mohamed Hassan.
Bahrain is regarded as an enemy of the Internet according to the Reporters without Borders’ 2014 report and is ranked second in the number of detained journalists per capita in 2013 according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
With nearly 18,000 Twitter followers and 100,000 tweets, Takrooz has been an active voice in charting the government crackdown on activists. Bahrain Watch, a research and transparency group, reported that Takrooz’ Twitter account was repeatedly targeted for surveillance by the Bahraini government. His tweets, in Arabic, cover abuse by law enforcement personnel, anti-corruption content and everyday concerns of the average Bahraini.
The next day Twitter user @M_Alshaikh published an image of an Arabic daily's coverage of Takrooz's arrest:
#البحرين: جريدة أخبار الخليج تنشر خبر إعتقال المغرد تكروز في الصفحة الأولى #Bahrain @Takrooz pic.twitter.com/3lW2Nm51gH
— Mahmood Alshaikh (@M_Alshaikh) June 18, 2014
Government newspaper published an article about of the arrest of Takrooz in the first page #Bahrain @Takrooz
Lawyer Hanan Alaradi @hananalaradi tweeted questioning his arrest status:
هل سيتم إخلاء سبيل صاحب حساب @takrooz بضمان محل إقامته كما حدث مع صاحب حساب منرفزهم ؟؟
— LawyerHanan (@hananalaradi) June 18, 2014
Will the owner of the account @Takrooz be released on bail like other pro-government tweeters @mnarfezhom
Bahrain had earlier arrested pro-government Twitter user, Mnarfezhom, who was released on bail, pending trial. Mnarfezhom is accused of four separate counts of insulting and slandering people, attacking their honour and reputation and offending Bahraini families using indecent expressions through social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram under the names Al Raqeeb, Ahfad Al Waleed, Ahfad Omar and Mnarfezhom.
Many angry Twitter users have be inspired to tweet after Takrooz's arrest saying that such arrests are futile. @Lair_Vulnerable noted:
#البحرين عندما تعتقلون .. ثائر مغرد مصور ألخ .. أنكم تجعلون منهُ رمز يا حمقىّ و سيكون ” أقوىّ ” أنا تكروز التالي .. @Takrooz #Bahrain
— عريــن المُـستضعفين (@Lair_Vulnerable) June 18, 2014
#Bahrain when you arrest .. a rebel, a tweeter, a photographer etc .. you're making a symbol out of him you fools and he will be stronger. I'm the next Takrooz
Official sources say Takrooz has already confessed to running the account and that he will be put on trial for inciting hatred against the regime.