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BCHR concerned over book ban

(BCHR/IFEX) - 24 October 2010 - The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern at the continued restrictions imposed on the freedom of press and publishing, with the local authorities prohibiting the distribution of a book entitled "Unbridled Hatreds: Read in the fate of ancient hatreds" written by the famous Bahraini author Dr. Nader Kadim. The planned discussion seminar which was supposed to take place at the same time as the book launch was also canceled.

The Press and Publication Office informed the organisation that is hosting the book fair of the ban on the entry into and distribution of the book in Bahrain without specifying the reason behind the decision. On 26 September 2010, a few hours before the start of the discussion seminar which was supposed to accompany the book launch, event organizers announced that the seminar was canceled on the grounds that it would publicly discuss ideas included in the banned book. Copies of the book are being held at the Department of Press and Publication, where they arrived a few days prior to the conference. Meanwhile, the administration has not made any written comments regarding the ban.

In his book, Dr. Nader Kadim provides an overview of hatred and situates it in different historical contexts, especially as it pertains to the emergence of the state and laws that criminalize hate speech, insult and slander, defamation and libel laws.

Dr. Nader Kadim had previously published sections of his book in the form of articles in a local newspaper, with no objections from the Department of Publications. However, this was not the first time the Department of Publications has banned his work. In 2008, his book "Using Memory In a Society Plagued by its History" was banned because the authorities considered it dangerous to the principles of modern-day society.

In June 2010, the Department of Publications also banned the publication and circulation of the Arabic translation of "The Personal Diary of Charles Belgrave". Belgrave was the British advisor to the ruling family from 1927 to 1957. This publication is considered by many as being critical, as it contains important and objective facts about an important period in Bahrain's history and is the first time such information is being published. In addition, 25 publishing houses were banned from exhibiting their books in the annual book fair, which was held in Manama on 17 March 2010.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern with the recent developments preventing the freedom of publication and the press. The prevention of such books from being freely distributed and promoted is a clear violation of international human rights, and in particular Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which clearly states that individuals have the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Individuals should have the right to express their views and opinions freely with no interference, whilst being allowed to express their views freely to others by whichever communication channel they choose.

Based on the previously discussed points, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the Bahraini authorities:
- immediately lift the ban on the book "Unbridled Hatreds", in the absence of any justifiable reason for the ban;
- lift the ban on all other books and publications, and allow their free distribution;
- stop the harassment and pressure on local publishing houses and libraries from importing books and publications that do not correspond with the views of the authorities.

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