Accusations of Government Interference Unfounded

To the editors:

I am writing in response to the article published on Nov. 29, "At HLS, Editor Calls For Freedom In Bahrain" by Jared T. Lucky about a talk given by Mansoor Al-Jamri at your esteemed institution. I would like to take issue with the outrageous allegation that "the government [of Bahrain] planted false stories in his paper".

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report specifically states in paragraph 1609 that Mr. Al-Jamri publicly acknowledged that 6 articles that were false and misleading were published in Al-Wasat but claimed he didn’t knowingly publish any misinformation. He then stated that he opened an internal investigation into the source of this information and traced all 6 emails (sent from 6 different email addresses) to an IP address in a neighboring country. If Mr. Al-Jamri had evidence that the government of Bahrain was involved in planting fabricated information in Al-Wasat in order to defame him or the newspaper, why didn’t he include that accusation in his meetings with the BICI?

With regard to the unfortunate attack on Al-Wasat’s offices and printing presses, I would like to draw your attention to paragraph 1632 in the BICI Report which states the finding that although photographic proof of vandalism at Al-Wasat was presented to the commission, “[the] commission does not have evidence to find … that this was the result of any incitement to violence by the government of Bahrain or any other persons.” These are both very serious accusations aimed at defaming the government of Bahrain and we want to see this matter set straight.

Mr. Al-Jamri’s statement that “the regime’s failure to work with moderate reformers who want to overcome religious inequality in the kingdom” is a mischaracterization of the nature of many of the demonstrators, as well as that of the Bahraini culture itself. Bahrain has a long history of religious tolerance, as a home to Muslims (both Shia and Sunni), Christians, Jews and other faiths. We have a proportionate number of places for worship according to the needs of the population and recognize a number of religious holidays according to faith. Moreover, our legal system does not tolerate religious discrimination and the sectarian character of recent events is a dark blot on our history of peaceful co-existence which we are determined to overcome.

Lastly, while Mr. Al-Jamri may view Bahrain as a “lost opportunity”, fortunately the overwhelming majority does not agree with him. It will take a big commitment and a lot of hard work to overcome the problems we have faced this year but the BICI has helped us make those crucial first steps to reconciliation and a brighter future.

Nawaf Al-Ma'awdeh

General Director of Press and Publications

Information Affairs Authority

Kingdom of Bahrain

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