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Influential Bahraini Blogger Reportedly Arrested (UPDATED)


Bahraini blogger Mahmood al-Yousif wrote that Bahrainis are only demanding "more democracy, guaranteed human rights and freedoms all leading to the opportunity to live with dignity."

Bahraini blogger Mahmood al-Yousif wrote that Bahrainis are only demanding "more democracy, guaranteed human rights and freedoms all leading to the opportunity to live with dignity."

A high-profile Internet activist in Bahrain has reportedly been arrested.

Mahmood al-Yousif reportedly tweeted "police here for me" early on March 29 in a post that has since been deleted from his profile on the popular information-sharing website (see hashtag on arrest). Yousif's brother and son followed up by tweeting a confirmation of the arrest.

Yousif runs several important websites in Bahrain, a small but strategic Persian Gulf country that has seen mass protests against the ruling monarchy in recent months as part of a wave of unrest in the region.

Among them is the antisectarian website Just Bahraini, which campaigns for Shi'a and Sunnis to overcome their differences. He blogs at Mahmood's Den, a website that also serves as a larger blogger and information portal for Bahrainis.

In a post dated March 18, Yousif writes that Bahrainis are only demanding "more democracy, guaranteed human rights and freedoms all leading to the opportunity to live with dignity."

He asks: "Do we really need any dialogue to enact these points? Of course not.... so what's the harm in his majesty immediately declaring steps to initiate the formation of an elected constitutional council to discuss, agree, and formulate this new constitution?"

Yousif has also recently blogged about police intimidation.

The son of a painter and father of three, Yousif owns and operates the Bahrain-based video production company Gulf Broadcast. He appears to have inherited his father's creativity but channels it technologically, building websites on everything from Earth Day Bahrain to gardening -- latest post, "The lawn is on the mend."

But however innocuous the work -- or the blog post -- these days, artists and online activists share many of the same problems. Both are reliant on freedom of expression and, as Yousif's alleged arrest shows, their work is being increasingly monitored by authorities in countries the world over.

UPDATE: Yousif was released on April 1.

-- Kristin Deasy

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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