Bahrain threatens crackdown on followers of anti-government social media accounts
Bahrain has warned its citizens and residents could face legal action simply for following social media accounts it deems anti-government, which raises concerns about the ability of Bahraini citizens and residents to exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms. In May 2019, a state terrorism law was expanded to criminalise anyone “promoting, glorifying, justifying, approving or supporting acts which constitute terrorist activities,” whether within or outside Bahrain. The government’s interior minister also sent mass text messages to Bahraini mobile phones threatening legal liability for people “following accounts which are biased or incite discord.” Explicitly targeting followers is an escalation of the government’s approach to date and suggests a desire to silence dissent beyond the country’s physical borders. The government’s threats are of particular concern given the government’s increasingly aggressive approach towards opposition parties and Shi’ite Muslim communities, as well as accusations that the government has engaged in torture and failed to provide people fair trials.
Writer: Lisa Barrington