Free Bahrain's Ali Abdulemam

Blogger Ali Abdulemam was arrested over a month ago and has been held in solitary detention ever since. His trial is today, but the charges against him are unknown. There is an active campaign in his favor, which produced the above video. Abdulemam's arrest is part of a wider crackdown on civil society that has taken place in recent weeks, with many arrested and held illegally and fears that they may be subjected to torture.

Update: Here's an AP report from the trial.

The Real Bahrain

The Real Bahrain - WSJ.com

In 2005, The Wall Street Journal carried a front-page news story about Ali Abdulemam, a young blogger in Bahrain, the island nation off Saudi Arabia's coast that hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet. The article reported that Mr. Abdulemam's blog mixed "irreverent politics and reverent Islam," and that Mr. Abdulemam had, several years earlier, stopped using a pseudonym. This was remarkable since Bahrain's Sunni-led government has historically used arbitrary detention, torture and other tactics to stifle calls for political equality by Bahrain's majority-Shia population. Mr. Abdulemam's decision to post openly came after King Hamad, who assumed power in 1999, had instituted reforms that included holding elections for an advisory parliament and ending torture.

It would be telling—but impossible—to ask Mr. Abdulemam if he now regrets discarding the pseudonym. On Sept. 4, Bahrain's National Security Apparatus called him to appear for questioning. After making a Facebook post about the call and attempting to contact a lawyer, Mr. Abdulemam left for the Apparatus's headquarters. He did not return.

The next Mr. Abdulemam's family heard of him was from a government news agency's story, reporting that prosecutors were questioning Mr. Abdulemam in a "terrorist network" investigation. Mr. Abdulemam, the account continued, had been "diffusing fabricated and malicious news on Bahrain" and receiving funding from a London-based "terror mastermind."

In retrospect, events during the last weeks of August foretold Mr. Abdulemam's arrest. On Aug. 13, authorities detained longtime opposition figure Abdul-Jalil Singace after he returned to Bahrain from a House of Lords event in London. Shortly after, 20 additional "terrorist network" figures were arrested, including well-known activists, Shia clerics, and a dentist. A charge sheet without reference to any purported facts accused them of "organizing. . . to overthrow and change the political system of the country," and of "working with international organizations."

Also do read this Economist piece on Bahrain.

Bahrain's oldest newspaper indefinitely suspended

Bahrain's oldest newspaper indefinitely suspended
After publication of anti-Khameini commentary. A sign of how sensitive this Sunni-ruled, Shia-majority country has become to the pro-Iran (regime) sentiments among its population. Which of course suggests that the Iranian regime must have spent much time building up a constituency there. Update: I posted this as I was clearing open windows in the browser. The newspaper has been reopened, as Bint Battuta kindly informed me. Sorry if I post slightly stale news that I bookmarked in recent days as I was traveling, I have not had much time to process my usual reading material over the last week as I was traveling. And thanks Bint Battuta!
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