ALERT - BAHRAIN
24 September 2008
Reformist writer banned from addressing public issues and publishing hisspeeches
SOURCE: Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Manama
(BCHR/IFEX) - The BCHR is gravely concerned about the continuing clampdownon freedom of opinion and expression in Bahrain which resulted in SheikhSalah Al-Jowder being prevented from distributing his sermons for Fridayprayers to local newspapers.
The head of the Sunni Endowment Department of the Ministry of IslamicAffairs, Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, who is a member of the royalfamily, sent an ultimatum to Al-Jowder, the imam of the Qalali Mosque,regarding his "political" sermons during Friday prayers and theirdissemination to the public in Bahraini newspapers.
Al-Jowder sent a statement to the press outlining the instructions thatwere given to him and asking them to stop publishing his speeches as of 19September 2008. Earlier, Al-Jowder had also suspended his speeches at theTariq ibn Ziyad Mosque without explaining the reasons behind his move. Hewas then transferred to the Qalali Mosque.
It is worth mentioning that Al-Jowder, in addition to being a writer forthe "Al-Ayam" newspaper, is also one of the distinguished reformistspeakers found among the Sunni Bahraini community. Over the past few years,his speeches have touched on issues of concern to the public and society.He is known for his consistent calls for religious tolerance and religiousrapprochement between people from different religious, ideological andethnic backgrounds, as well as for his disapproval of hatred and sectariansedition. Al-Jowder also maintains relationships with other sects andvarious societal groups. Recently, Al-Jowder referred to the Bahraini PressCode, stating, "We want a modern press law, not a law which imposesroyalties and fines to muzzle mouths and tongues."
Nabeel Rajab, the president of the BCHR, commented on Al-Jowder's case,saying, "Such practices are a blatant violation of freedom of expressionand contravene the second paragraph of Article 19 of the ICCPR whichstates that 'Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; thisright shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information andideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing orin print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.'""The authorities should lift their clampdown on freedom of expression andallow reformists, writers and activists to freely express their views andcommunicate with the public in any way they see fit," Rajab added.
Send appeals to authorities:- calling on them to lift the ban (legal, administrative or otherwise) onthe freedom of expression of reformists, writers and activists- urging them to allow Al-Jowder to publish his sermons in the local media
His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-KhalifaCabinet Prime MinisterManama, Bahrain
His Excellency Sheikh Khalid Al KhalifaMinister of Justice and Islamic AffairsManama, Bahrain
Fax: +97 3 1 721 1363
Please copy appeals to the source if possible.
For further information contact Nabeel Rajab, President, BCHR, Manama,Bahrain, tel: +973 3963 3399 / 3940 0720, fax: +973 1779 5170, e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Internet:http://www.bahrainrights.org
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