Bahrain: investigation of opposition online content

Bahrain's Ministry of Interior initiated a criminal investigation on Feb. 17 into alleged illegal content posted by the country's main opposition group, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society. Al-Wefaq regularly publishes content to its website and Twitter account, including pictures of protests against the Sunni majority party. Feb. 14 marked the four-year anniversary of a Shiite uprising in Bahrain and hundreds took the streets to protest a lack of political reform and the imprisonment of Al-Wafeq leader Sheikh Ali Salman. The alleged criminal content involves pictures of wounded protesters from the weekend protests, and claims that the authorities fired buckshot and tear gas to disperse protesters. Al-Wefaq is accused of publicly inciting hatred against the government, encouraging illegal rallies and distributing false news.

Political tensions remain high in Bahrain following protests that began in 2011. Earlier this month, a group of UN human rights experts urged the Bahrain government to release Salman. The human rights experts criticized the arrest and prosecution as a violation of Salman's right to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of religion. In January the Bahrain Ministry of Justice commenced the trial of Salman for his role in promoting an overthrow of the current Bahrain political system. Salman was charged in January for inciting a change of regime by non-peaceful means. Last October a Bahrain court ordered al-Wefaq to suspend all activities.

From Jurist, Feb. 17. Used with permission.