Bahrain calls in Washington PR firm to tackle backlash

Gulf state hires Qorvis Communications at $40,000 a month after flurry of negative press

Bahrain has repeatedly contested the portrayal of recent anti-government protests by foreign media

Bahrain has repeatedly contested the portrayal of recent anti-government protests by foreign media

The government of Bahrain has hired a Washington PR firm at a cost of $40,000 a month as it moves to tackle a flurry of negative foreign press in the wake of widespread political unrest.

The appointment of Qorvis Communications, which lists the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Amazon.com among its clients, comes after sustained media coverage of a crackdown on anti-government protesters in the Gulf state that killed at least seven and saw over 1,000 detained.

Qorvis has already issued its first statement to the press on behalf of Bahrain’s Ministry of Health, condemning a report from charity Medecins Sans Frontieres that claimed its Bahrain office had been raided and one employee arrested.

Qorvis Communications will be paid $40,000 per month in addition to expenses for travel, production and accommodation, a contract signed by managing partner, Michael Petruzzello and Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohamed Al Khalifa.

Bahrain has repeatedly contested the portrayal of the kingdom's anti-government protests by foreign media, blaming the unrest on outside forces seeking to destabilise the country.

The Gulf state this week accused Doha-based Al Jazeera of “slander and lies” after it aired a documentary purporting to show human rights abuses by government forces against activists.

In March, Bahrain's rulers imposed martial law and called in troops from fellow Sunni-ruled Gulf neighbours to quell weeks of unrest led by mostly Shi'ite protesters.

Tens of thousands marched outside Bahrain's capital Manama in July in protest of a National Dialogue they said had failed to bring real democratic reform in the Gulf island kingdom.

Bahrain's rulers launched the dialogue in July, aiming to quell international criticism of its crushing of mass pro-democracy protests.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has since approved parliamentary reforms submitted by the National Dialogue that grant more powers of scrutiny to an elected lower house but preserved the dominance of an upper house appointed by the royal elite.

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Posted by: Freedom4ever

No matter how much you spend your image in the eyes of the world has already been damaged and forever.

Posted by: elisabetta

@Rupert.....'mass repression and murder"?......you have beenreading too many fairy tales my friend. Law abiding citizens were held ransom by those who blockaded roads set up armed illegal road blocks and questioned and threatened residents, they occupied the hospital and refused treatment based on ethnicity...I know....my relative died as a result....my car was attacked and trashed, my sons friend was beaten up...the list goes on . The media totally misrepresented the situation and sensationalised footage to boost viewing figures. Don't make judgements unless you are in possession of ALL of the facts. Thank God the authorities took control when they did or we would be in the mess that London andother UK cities are in.

Posted by: Sandra Barse

Mr. Headlam,

By Bahraini residents do you mean the Indian/Pakistani workers those taken hostage and beaten who the protesters like to pretend were working for the Gov ?

Or the Bangladeshis worker killed by the protesters? Or the many Asian routinely beaten by Peaceful Protesters?

Or vast expat Asian community who were told by the peaceful protesters they would be killed or shipped back when they took power?

Posted by: rupert headlam

Qorvis and Mr Petruzello are presumably easily identifiable in DC. Perhaps US residents could direct a stream of pertinent questions to them requesting justifications for the mass repression and murder of Bahreini residents, hopefully identified by name.

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