Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on the Bahraini government, in a statement released on Tuesday, July 4, 2017, to lift its ban on the country’s only independent media outlet, the Arabic-language daily Al Wasat, which is still closed a month being suspende “until further notice” by the information ministry on 4 June. It was forced to lay off all its employees (about 160) at the end of June.
“Al Wasat was suspended on 4 June for no good reason,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “This suspension ‘until further notice’ constitutes an unprecedented act of censorship and means the end of independent journalism in Bahrain. We call on information minister Ali Al-Rumaihi to rescind this disgraceful decision and to do everything possible to help the newspaper to resume operating.”
With at least 14 journalists and citizen-journalists currently detained, the Kingdom of Bahrain is one of the Middle East’s biggest prisons for journalists. It is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.