Reporters Without Borders voiced alarm at Bahrain's decision announced on 24 April 2005 to oblige all websites dealing with the country to register with the ministry of Information. "This does not happen in any democratic country and is a threat to press freedom," the organisation said. (Continued)
It also contains the details pertaining to us bloggers:
[Jamal Dawood, head of press and publications at the information ministry] admitted that he did not know what a weblog was, but said that even personal websites would have to comply with the new procedure. He added that it would not be possible to register online and registration would have to be done directly at the information ministry. After each registration was validated, the person in charge would receive an ID number that would have to be posted on the site. [wtf???]
Do the government officials who are inventing these laws even know what the internet is?? It sounds as though a government employee from the "Vehicle Registration" department at the Directorate of Traffic got moved to the Information Ministry. Surely this is a joke of some sort. I can't wait to find out what else they have in store for us.
I'm just wondering... does this mean I have to register my Flickr account with the ministry also?
Do read the full RSF statement.
Update (27-Apr-05): I've been reading over the RSF article and wanted to bring to your attention this quote from Mr Jamal Dawood:
"Registration will be automatic and no-one will be turned down whatever the content."
Does he really expect people to believe this when just two months ago three website admins were arrested due to the contents of their site? And after the GDN reported that the government will continue to block websites "inciting hatred against prominent figures, ministers and leading officials". This reminds me of when Labour Minister Al Alawi stated before a UN Committee in Geneva that racial discrimination does not exist whatsoever in Bahrain.
Oh and guess what? The government has now blocked Proxify.com also. They really seem to believe that it's possible to control the internet.
Update (28-Apr-05): The story has been picked up by AP News: Bahrain site registration sparks protests (via Business Week). Also, our local paper, the GDN also has two articles about the story: This one featured as the frontpage headline story and this one inside contains a quote from our very own Mahmood!