Aprominent human rights lawyer in Bahrain who launched a lawsuit against the government over its restrictions imposed on Qatar has been arrested, aljazeera.com reports.
Issa Faraj Arhama al-Burshaid was detained after challenging Manama’s sanctions, which include blocking Qataris from staying in the country along with other economic penalties.
Gulf Times had reported about the lawsuit yesterday, based on an article by local Arabic daily Al Arab.
He filed the case with the Supreme Administrative Court in Manama against the Cabinet, Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry.
He described the measures taken by his country against Qatar as “arbitrary”.
“This siege has broken up family ties and hurt all Bahraini families,” said al-Burshaid.
“The decision to cut diplomatic relations violates Bahrain’s constitution and laws.”
Bahrain had earlier declared it a crime - punishable by imprisonment of up to five years and a fine - to show “sympathy or favouritism” to Qatar or to object in any way to Bahrain’s decision to break relations and impose economic and border restrictions on its neighbour.
The UAE made a similar move - with a possible 15-year penalty - prohibiting criticism of its government or sympathy towards Qatar “whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form”.
Bahrain’s director-general of the Anti-Corruption and Financial and Electronic Security agency said al-Burshaid was arrested because materials were posted on social media that “damage the social fibre and national unity”.
The director-general said the necessary legal measures were being finalised to bring al-Burshaid’s case to prosecutors.
The Bahraini lawyer argued the sanctions against Qatar violate articles of Bahrain’s constitution, which clearly indicates the country must maintain economic unity among GCC states.
Burshaid also noted the constitution prohibits imposing any bans on Qataris.
While the ban on Qataris staying in Bahrain breaks families up in the two countries, it also imposes restrictions on the free movement of Bahraini citizens, al-Burshaid added.
Qatar sympathiser detained
The Bahraini authorities have detained a citizen for sympathising with Qatar on social media, the attorney-general said yesterday, after the authorities warned that sympathising with Doha was tantamount to a criminal offence, agencies reported yesterday.
The department of cybercrime referred a case to the public prosecutor’s office in which “a person of interest had posted comments to social networks that constitute a violation” of a ban against sympathising with boycott-hit Qatar, said attorney-general Ahmed al-Hammadi, head of Bahrain’s Terrorist Crimes Commission.
“The prosecution has begun investigating the matter, and the suspect has been interrogated and is being held in custody,” Hammadi said.
Bahrain’s strict cybercrime law prohibits the expression of dissent online, including via social media.
Manama had earlier announced it would jail Qatar sympathisers, following a similar decision by the UAE.
“Any expression of sympathy with the government of Qatar or opposition to the measures taken by the government of Bahrain, whether through social media, Twitter or any other form of communication, is a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine,” the interior ministry said last week.
This is the first time Bahrain has detained a citizen for violating a ban on support for Qatar that Manama imposed after it joined Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt in severing ties with Doha.
Quoting the prosecutor, state news agency BNA said the prosecution “questioned the suspect and ordered him detained protectively pending questioning”.