While reading through this morning's GDN I came a cross a couple stories that made me laugh very hard.
The first article was supposed to praise the government for tackling media and software piracy in Bahrain. The headline reads: "Four charged with 'piracy'". The sub-heading says: "Manama computer shops raided in joint sting operation". I found this so funny because just yesterday afternoon I was in Muharraq and I saw a couple Bangladeshi chaps with a big collection of pirated CDs for sale laid out on the pavement of the main road that goes towards the Suq. It wasn't some secret mafia transaction taking place behind closed doors requiring a hi-tech "sting operation". They were standing right out in the open on the main thoroughfare in everyone's view. The best thing though was that they were carrying out their business right opposite the Muharraq Police Station, and no one seemed to be bothered. These street vendors are quite common in Bahrain. I wonder what they need "joint sting operations" for.
And here's the other funny article from the GDN:
Bahrain steps up security
MANAMA: Security was stepped up near the Al Fateh Islamic Centre during Friday prayers and near the US embassy yesterday. Undercover Bahraini and US security forces were present during the prayers, witnesses said. Leading Bahraini scholars and clerics earlier condemned a call by Saudi dissidents living in the West for mass rallies in Bahrain through a TV channel, Reform, which they run. (Continued)
There's definitely something very wrong going on if "witnesses" know that there are undercover security forces present. With regards to the the undercover US forces, I wonder if they were given away by their "High and Tight" haircuts... hmmm.
Anyhows, if you want to read more about this call for mass rallies in Bahrain by Saad al-Faqih's movement, then read this report from Arab News. But I'm still very unclear about what was being advocated and the reasons for it.
The article below was printed in the GDN on 1-Jan-05:
Four charged with 'piracy'
By MOHAMMED ASLAM
THREE Bahraini businessmen and an Indian salesman have been accused of dealing in pirated computer software.
One of the Bahrainis, who manages a computer shop, is also accused of possessing pornographic material on CDs.
All four were charged following raids on two computer shops in Manama in July this year, the Lower Criminal Court heard.
Three of the defendants appeared in court and denied all the charges against them, but a fourth failed to appear.
The case was adjourned until March 15, when witnesses will testify.
All the four defendants are accused of dealing in pirated software belonging to the Microsoft Corporation.
They were arrested after raids by Information Ministry inspectors, following undercover work by the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA), based in Dubai, the court heard.
An AAPA representative posed as a customer and visited one of the shops, where he found pirated software on two computers.
Field inspectors from the Information Ministry's Publications and Press Directorate were sent to two shops, following the complaint by AAPA, the court heard.
"In the first shop in Manama we found pirated software goods and also some pornographic CDs," said the head of the inspectors.
"We also seized two computers with pirated computer programs.
"In the second computer shop, we seized two computers with pirated computer programs"
Two Bahraini businessmen, aged 36 and 47, said they owned the shops, but their managers were responsible for running them.
"I had warned all the employees in the shop not to trade in any pirated software goods," said one.
The other said he had no knowledge of what went on in the shop.
"I own many commercial registrations and have many business outlets in Bahrain and abroad," he said.
"I normally visit this shop once a month and I have no knowledge about what was seized by the Information Ministry inspectors from the shop."