Bahrain: IFJ calls for ban on Al Wasat newspaper to be lifted

Al Wasat newspaper logo

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has joined its affiliate, the Bahraini Journalists Association (BJA), in calling for the ban on national newspaper Al Wasat to be lifted immediately.
The paper was suspended until further notice on 4 June, after the Bahraini ministry of information affairs accused it of “violating the law,  (…) repeating the publication of material likely to stir up the community and affect the relations of the Kingdom of Bahrain with other countries," according to news agency BNA. 
The IFJ, which represents over 180 unions and associations of journalists across the world, joins the BJA in demanding to immediately lift the suspension of Al Wasat as well as a freedom of speech for all media organisations.
In an editorial on demonstrations in Al Rif in northern Morocco, Al Wasat criticised the Moroccan government for ignoring the rights of its citizens in the region.
The column is considered as a breach of Bahrain’s press law, according to which newspapers are not allowed to publish material considered abusive of the head of an Arab or Islamic state or any other country that has diplomatic representation with Bahrain.
Al Wasat is one of the 5 dailies in Arabic in Bahrain and is considered as an independent media outlet. It has been subject to several bans since its creation in 2002. 
IFJ said: “The suspension of Al Wasat is another blow against freedom of speech in Bahrain. We call on King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa to lift this ban immediately and diffuse the situation.” 
In a statement BJA said: “The Bahraini Journalists Association is following up this case with the relevant authorities to find a solution in accordance with the law and which guarantees that media organizations are able to work.”
Earlier this year, the IFJ had called on the Bahraini authorities to renew the accreditation of journalist Nazeeha Saeed working for Monte Carlo Douliya and France24 who was unfairly banned from working as a foreign correspondent in the country. The journalist was convicted in abstentia and fined. She appealed the judgment.

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