After Arab Spring, journalism briefly flowered and then withered

The Washington Post reports: Just three miles from the gleaming center of town, a local journalist in a rusted, old compact car swerves around trash dumpsters set on fire to deter police cars from entering the impoverished, restive Shiite neighborhoods.

The car stops at a cafe with a view of a small group of protesters, the embers in Bahrain of the Middle East uprisings known as the Arab Spring. The discontent is rarely seen on the local television or radio channels, which are all state-owned, or in the four major daily newspapers, all but one of which is aligned with the Sunni ruling family.

Customers enter the cafe rubbing their eyes and complaining about another night of tear gas. In a corner, a small group of demoralized Bahraini journalists who are no longer able to safely practice their craft gathers to commiserate and pass updates about colleagues in prison or exile.

Reading through the newspapers, former sports reporter Faisal Hayat, 41, takes note of three legal cases against the media. One is his, a 2007 defamation suit brought against him by a former sports minister. Hayat says it is a nuisance suit to ruin him financially. Then there are charges against a newspaper editor filed by the Ministry of Information. Finally, there is the three-year sentence of blogger and activist Zainab Khawaja, a.k.a Angry Arabiya, in part for tearing up a picture of the king in public. [Continue reading…]

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