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15 April, 2007

Behind bars in Bahrain

Worrying events on the Island of Two Seas. where Mahmood Al Yousif, aka the Blogfather, is being sued for libel by a Bahraini government minister. Mahmood criticised Mansour bin Rajab and his department over heavy flooding in December.

Now the minister claims his "feelings are hurt".

While we all shed a thousand tears for the wounded soul of this sensitive government personage, it's a stark reminder of the utter lack of legal freedom of speech in the Gulf, however much newspapers push boundaries on a daily basis. That gem of legal history, the UAE Publications Law, is quite clear on the issue:

Article 70

No criticism shall be made against the Head of State or Rulers of the Emirates

Article 84

It is prohibited to malign a public official, or anybody occupying a post in the public prosecution, or assigned to perform a public job. The writer shall not be held responsible if he proves he did so in good faith.

The divine right of kings: to rule without election; to misrule without question.

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Blogger KC said...

Sorry to hear of the Assault going on your corner of the world.

Here in one of the Freest Nations-- The Good Ole USA we are too loosing our freedoms of speech.

No more can you say anything if you will "hurt someones feelings".

It is becoming Global and is part of a larger Conspiracy!

15 April, 2007 23:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about it. China will be democratic before this place here ever changes. I just dont see it.

I mean to be a ruler in the middle east is to enjoy almost infinite wealth. Wealth that greed alone cannot justify, You have to add a heavy dose of stupidity of the thieves to make sense of it.

I mean George Bush is on $200,000 a year. A country infinitely more wealthy than the sand pits over here.
Why would the rulers ever leave power. I mean its not like there is pressure for them to leave, nada. The popoulation will go to hell and back before they criticise the government.

Also the rules over most of the Gulf is that everything belongs to the kings, so thereby justifying the worlds biggest yacht for the head of a city state.

The same scenario exists everywhere in these places.
I am also fed up with the leader worship that exists here. Its just ridiculous and childish. Everywhere you go there is pictures of the leaders, recently it has been pictures of the dead father, the current ruler, and his annointed heir i.e his son. Fuck are people turning christian here. You know all that business about Holy ghost, father, and son.

And another note, the leaders here seem to be keen to copy the west in their behaviour. All the way to donning fancy hats, and parading their gold digger wives infront of people. Why dont they go a step further and copy the west in democracy, a competent civil service, free press etc.

In Saudi a nation the size of wetsern europe is run by brothers and cousins. If you go overseas and you say you are from Saudi, everyone assumes you are loaded. Nothing could be further from the truth. A big portion of them are struggling, and even their middle class is fairly relative. Middle Class mean a govt job doing nothing. If you convert hte salaries, it doesnt amount to much.
It is only the leaders who have un imaginable wealth, even a minor prince recieves a whopping govt allowance and lives in a palace.

The problem with here is that alot of the people who have nationality just do not comprehend the mess they live in. Most of the foreigners they see are people who came here to serve them. So they have this deluded feeling they are a chosen people thanks to the wise leadership. Bullshit.

15 April, 2007 23:55  
Blogger marwan said...

Blogfather? Like Pratchett's Hogfather?

16 April, 2007 00:10  
Blogger Arso said...

"The divine right of kings: to rule without election; to misrule without question"

Interesting, did u come up with that?

16 April, 2007 00:32  
Blogger secretdubai said...

I did Arso, but I have a feeling it's a bad misquote or half quote from Shakespeare or something.

16 April, 2007 02:16  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

I am also fed up with the leader worship that exists here. Its just ridiculous and childish. Everywhere you go there is pictures of the leaders, recently it has been pictures of the dead father, the current ruler, and his annointed heir i.e his son.

Indeed. It's a useful rule of thumb that whenever you see a country where the heads of state and government are displayed prominently in many places, it is a tinpot dictatorship which could collapse overnight and the pictures replaced by others before breakfast.

16 April, 2007 05:37  
Blogger S. said...

So true. I kept my mouth shut for so long living there. Even though I moved out about two weeks ago, I still cant bring myself to say anything.

Trust me though. 31 years of pent up comments exist herein. Theyre going to vent one of these days.

Aaaahhh Freedom. You can even taste it..!!

16 April, 2007 12:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bold stuff, SD!

Tim Newman, can you kindly tell us who will take the honors and bring down governments of the Middle East and make them"collapse overnight and the pictures replaced by others before breakfast."

In fact, who placed them in power in the first place? Things that make you go hmmmmmmm...

16 April, 2007 13:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cult of personality that revolves around Sheikh Mohammed in Dubai is becoming a serious problem. The two major problems that Dubai has to deal with as a developing city aren't rising rents and traffic (although these are obviously up there) but human rights and the environment. From camel jockeys to exploited construction workers to abused maids and ruined coral reefs, Dubai's got big problems and Sheikh Mohammad's administration is largely to blame. The Maktoums owned the sport of camel racing (in which 1000s of kids were raped, starved and abused), while companies get away with murder in terms of wages and living/working conditions for construction workers and so on.

Until the Dubai government, and Arab governments in general, begin to listen to criticism and work to evolve democratic processes, they won't be able to deal with the problems that eventually drown them. When the negative PR from Dubai's human rights issue becomes a global story, this place will be like Burma and people will be urged to stay away, if there's anything to stay away from - the environmental record here is disastrous. The sycophantic coverage of Dubai's royal family (Which happens due to government censorship, of course) is only going to destroy them in the long run.

16 April, 2007 22:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

zSome calculations:

Shk Mo spent $70 million on a few horses in 2 days of shopping last year.

Whats wrong with that? Well other than the fact that he is a ruler of the country and the welfare of the residents should be his primary concern and not horses, absolutely nothing.

A worker earns $165 per month.

So what he spent on horses could have paid the 1 month wages for 425000 labourers.

In many cases the authorities do not pay construction companies on time who in turn do not pay their workers.

Recently there was a strike by about a few hundred workers.

That same amount of money spent on horses could have paid for the salary of 3000 workers for 141 months (almost 12 years).

But I guess horses are more important.

- Jumeirah Jake

17 April, 2007 10:46  
Blogger vagabondblogger said...

I'm from a "democracy" and I'm still waiting for the press to wake up and say something. The government spin machine is always at work trying to discount any criticism and when that dosen't work they bring out their big gun, Cheney, who growls and makes everyone run for cover. Thank God for blogs.

17 April, 2007 11:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, thank god for blogs, and big thumbs up to SD for raising these topics that won't be discussed elsewhere.

17 April, 2007 17:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The UAE press law also prohibitis criticism of any head of state of any country with which the UAE has friendly relations. So, in theory, any media criticism of George Bush is punishable.

18 April, 2007 16:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The divine right of kings: to rule without election; to misrule without question."

This is such a witty apt comment you made. Nice one!

21 April, 2007 11:40  

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