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Bahrain bans independent newspaper for ‘sowing division’

The order was made due to Al Wasat’s 'violation of the law and repeatedly publishing what sows division in the society and affects Bahrain’s relations with other states', the BNA state news agency said.

Al Wasat's chief editor, Mansoor Al Jamri, arrives at the courthouse in Manama on May 18, 2011. Hasan Jamali, File / AP Photo
Al Wasat's chief editor, Mansoor Al Jamri, arrives at the courthouse in Manama on May 18, 2011. Hasan Jamali, File / AP Photo

The Bahraini government announced on Sunday an indefinite ban on the independent Al Wasat newspaper, accusing it of publishing “what sows division” in the kingdom.

The ministry of information affairs said it had decided to bar the newspaper’s publication and stop its circulation “until further notice”, without specifying if the ban affected the electronic edition, the BNA state news agency reported.

The order was made due to Al Wasat’s “violation of the law and repeatedly publishing what sows division in the society and affects Bahrain’s relations with other states”, the BNA said.

The decision came after the paper published an article on Sunday that was “offensive to a sisterly Arab state”, the BNA said, in an apparent reference to an article that praised protests in Morocco.

Manama suspended the electronic edition of Al Wasat for a few days in January over accusations that the newspaper was sowing sedition and harming national unity.

The paper was also suspended for two days in August 2015 on similar charges.

Bahrain has been rocked by sporadic unrest since March 2011 when security forces brutally crushed an Arab Spring-inspired uprising.

At the height of the 2011 uprising, Al Wasat was suspended and its chief editor, Mansoor Al Jamri, tried and fined for publishing false information.

The latest ban comes as authorities intensify a crackdown on the opposition, with police shooting dead five demonstrators last month as security forces dismantled a months-long sit-in.

* Agence France-Presse