Well, it’s not the first time the Bahrain government has blocked Google-related applications…
Many of us already know that the Bahrain Ministry of Culture and Information (formerly known under the moniker of Ministry of Information) have cracked their knuckles and showed their ‘Big Brother’-esque abilities and have created a new list of Blocked websites in Bahrain.
The new list had the usual suspects, Bahrain political movement websites, Anti government web forums, Anti-Islam websites and a handful of porn websites (Playboy) etc..
This time around, the Ministry has outdone itself by blocking dozens more websites most noticably proxy websites (which allows users to enter blocked websites with ease), Google Translate and DeviantArt!
The Kingdom of Bahrain’s constitution states that the people of Bahrain have the right of freedom of speech:
حرية الرأي و البحث العلمي مكفولة, و لكل إنسان حق التعبير عن رأيه و نشره بالقول أو الكتابة أو غيرها, و ذلك وفقاً للشروط و الأوضاع التي يبينها القانون, مع عدم المساس بأسس العقيدة الإسلامية و وحدة الشعب, بما لا يثير الفرقة و الطائفية.
Freedom of opinion and scientific research is guaranteed, and everyone is right to express their views and verbally, in writing or otherwise, and in accordance with the terms and conditions prescribed by law, without prejudice to the foundations of the Islamic faith and the unity of the people, including the band (discrimination), is not sectarian.
Translated by… you guessed it!
People should be free to do whatever they want online, whether it’s safe or sinful is really none of the government’s business.. We are not cattle that need to herded and shown the ‘righteous’ or better put ‘the government’s’ way.
The most dissapointing point of this quite unintelligent act is that it was passed by the Minister, Shaikha Mai bint Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, a woman who during her tenure as the Undersecretary of Culture and National Heritage showed off how beautiful Bahrain is and bringing the world’s cultures and art right to our doorstep for free or quite cheaply through events like the Spring of Culture.
Blocking Google Translate in a world where everyone desperately needs to understand eachother and to do so quickly is simply a shot in the foot. DeviantArt on the other hand, was where most of or even all of Bahrain’s top photographers and graphic designers showed off their works and rubbed shoulders with artists from around the globe. Some of the Bahrainis’ work on DeviantArt are arguably world class and awe inspiring.
Yet once again, blocking such a site is going against everything that Shaikha Mai bint Ebrahim Al-Khalifa stood for in Bahrain’s art community…
Your Excellency, blocking these websites will in the short and long term continue to undermine the freedoms given to the Bahraini people through the constitution and depriving useful websites from the residents of Bahrain for no reason whatsoever.
Please reconsider and lift the ban off these websites and let us as a people grow more knowledgeable, educated and inspired…