Around 40 or 50 people showed up today in front of the Ministry of Information to protest its decision to press charges against the BahrainOnline trio. Although the three (Ali Abdulemam, Hussain Yousif and Mohammed Al-Mousawi) were released from prison in March, they still face charges for the material that was posted on their website, and are not allowed to leave the country.
Despite this however, the government is going ahead with its plan to obligate all Bahraini websites to register with the Ministry of Information, ridiculously claiming that "it is intended to protect people running websites". In this article in today's Bahrain Tribune, Jamal Dawood (head of Press and Publication at the MoI) claims that "many" website owners have already come forward to be registered. But this can't be too many since most the popular online forums have agreed that they will not register. And certainly all of the bloggers I have spoken to are ardently against the registration also (including myself).
A couple of posts ago I mentioned that Batelco (Bahrain's sole ISP) had blocked Proxify.com. Well it seems that today Batelco has taken steps so that users can't access blocked sites using many of the freely available proxy servers. Not to worry though, as there are many other ways to get around this. But this is significant. Earlier, Batelco's block on sites was just nominal and very easy to get around. But it seems that now the government is actively trying to make sure that blocked sites are actually blocked, to go along with its website registration mandate.
And I have also been informed by a friend that my blog is no longer accessible from computers at the University of Bahrain's Sakhir campus. (I'll take that as a compliment for now).
Well, happy World Press Freedom Day all.