So neither the GDN nor the Bahrain Tribune had any mention of the big protest I reported yesterday. The GDN did have a long article about a demonstration against a slaughterhouse in Muharraq, but nothing about the protest in Manama. Obviously, orders have come from up above restricting the press from reporting about it. However I don't think that it's only the government who is enforcing restrictions, but it seems like some of the High Command in the press are looking to earn some brownie points also. Take for example the GDN's editorial on Tuesday by Anwar Abdulrahman, editor of Akhbar al Khaleej. He had this to say about the Alkhawaja affair:
What happened this week at the Oruba Club is a classic example of how small a human being can become when his only tool as a speaker is to hang his personal failure on the shoulders of others.
To an extent, I agree with Abdulrahman that Alkhwaja behaved rashly. However Abdulrahman also conveniently forgot to mention how "small" the government must have become when it chose to lock someone up for merely criticizing the Premier. Ridiculous.
But another, more interesting, piece of information in today's GDN is that a delegation of senators and congressmen from the US were on the island yesterday:
US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and several congressmen yesterday praised Bahrain's move to set up the Bahrain Institute for Political Development.
The institute, which is being established on the directives of His Majesty King Hamad, will aim to foster greater political awareness among the kingdom's legislative bodies and other official and private institutions. (Continued)
Aha! This explains why the police did not interfere at all during yesterday's protest, despite all of the angry statements being issued against the government. It would certainly have been embarassing for the government if it were arresting political protesters while a delegation of US lawmakers was visiting the island to discuss issues of political development! I do hope that the presence of the American visitors was not the only thing holding back the government
Lastly, for some reason the BCHR website has been down all evening. I don't know if this is just due to something technical, or if there is something more sinister behind it. Let's wait and see if it's back up tomorrow. When I last checked the site they were announcing another demonstration for the release of Alkhawaja. If I remember correctly, it said it would be this Monday at the Bahrain Mall. I think it said it would be at 4pm, but that doesn't sound right since its a working day... so don't quote me on it.
Update (3-Oct-04): Oops, sorry for letting my conspiratorial mind get the better of me last night! The BCHR website is back up and running as normal. And also, I think it was probably wrong of me to suggest that the presence of the US delegation was the only reason why the police didn't interfere with the protest. Hmmm... I should probably think more before I go around starting rumours.
But I think the "brownie point" theory is still very valid, for Anwar Abdulrahman has come out with yet another editorial today illustrating the refined art of kissing ass. Read Mahmood's take on it here. And it's so fake the way Abdulrahman always tries to make himself sound intelligent by quoting a philosopher or a politician from a highschool quote book. You'd think that the editor of a newspaper would have better writing skills. I'm amazed at how he ever managed to get such a position... uhh... actually, it all makes sense now.