Bahrain warns journalists not to incite sectarianism

Warning comes as it Bahrain gov't announces May 7 as National Press Day
Bahrain has seen near daily protests since the start of the unrest in early 2011
By Beatrice Thomas
Mon 23 Jun 2014 01:11 PM

Bahrain has warned journalists not to incite sectarianism through their writings after an Arabic newspaper published a column questioning the reasons behind members of a certain sect achieving academic excellence in this year’s high school examinations.

As the government announced May 7 as National Press Day, Minister of State for Information Affairs and official government spokeswoman Sameera Rajab said the law will be applied without differentiation, Gulf Daily News reported.

In the newspaper, a well-known Bahraini columnist described the situation in schools as part of a long-term plan to topple the regime, which he said started with administrators and teachers who are pushing students to get scholarships, the newspaper reported.

Rajab said: “there is a difference between opinion and sectarianism and there are rules in this country that govern and control what gets published.”

“The law applies to all and there are no exceptions, but we have to distinguish between two things - whether the journalist or columnist publishes something in a licensed paper, or posts a personal notice on his pages online.

"Those who decide to say comments on a personal notice are being dealt with through other legislation that are not related to the Information Affairs Authority (IAA), but anything that comes through publications licensed by us will be punished."

The Cabinet emphasised the importance of national unity and rejecting all forms of sectarianism. It also called upon all religious channels and the press to avoid sermons and writings which would incite sectarianism when discussing the internal affairs of other countries.

Rajab said National Press Day “will be regarded as an important occasion to honour those involved in the Bahraini Press and to continue to support openness and freedom of opinion and expression in Bahrain”.

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