jump to navigation

Bahrain abolishes information ministry 10, July 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera, Bahrain.
Tags: , , , ,

Bahrain has announced that it is abolishing its information ministry. Ordinarily, this is a good sign of loosening of press censorship.

Qatar, for example, used the abolition of its information ministry in 1995 to signal a shift in the country’s view of news coverage. Along with the foundation of Al Jazeera, this act was widely seen as Qatar eschewing a staid, authoritarian mindset and entering the twenty-first century. True, Qatar’s domestic press is tame and decidedly uninvestigative, but at least Qatar has some mostly free media in the country.

Indeed, this relatively free media – Al Jazeera – recently ran a story on poverty in Bahrain which prompted their expulsion from Manama. This is hardly an auspicious omen coming in the weeks before it decides to get rid of its information ministry. So, unless there has been some paradigm shift in attitudes in Bahrain – which there hasn’t – this abolition, like in the UAE and to a lesser extent in Qatar, is more of a PR change than a real signal of changing attitudes to press censorship.


1. AbuArqala - 10, July 2010

Given recent news items, this old Cold War era joke might be appropriate.

A US citizen and a Soviet citizen met at a Moscow conference on the role of press in society.

The “American” journalist said to the Soviet, “You know in my country not only do we have press freedom, but as a private citizen I can go in front of the White House and openly criticize not only the policies of the current Administration but the President himself. And in the most harsh terms. This is my right under our laws”.

The Soviet replied, “We have the same freedoms here in Moscow”.

The American retorted, “I’m sorry I don’t believe you”.

The Soviet: “All right, come with me to Red Square. By the way what US policy would you like to protest so I can make a sign?

I’d measure press freedom in the GCC (or elsewhere) primarily by the range of domestic policies open to criticism as well as the range of domestic political actors subject to criticism. I’d assign much less weight to the ability to criticize foreign leaders or policies.

davidbroberts - 10, July 2010

There are the makings of a fascinating study there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: