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Bahrain says if will 'hunt down' online dissidents

Bahrain is cracking down harder on online dissent [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 March, 2018

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Bahrain has warned it will hunt down activists using social media, and there will be 'severe measures' taken against dissidents.

Bahraini activists who use social media to voice their opposition to the Manama regime will be "tracked down", authorities warned Sunday.

Online dissidents can expect to face "severe measures" against them, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa said in a statement published on the state news agency, as Bahrain tightens its crackdown on opposition.

"We are not far from tracking down those behind this, and taking legal action against them," Khalifa said in the statement.

He said new legislation could be passed to tighten laws against online dissent with "severe measures to deal with unprecedented chaos by disruptive social media accounts".

This was necessary to prevent the spreading of "malicious rumours that strike at the heart of the social fabric and civil peace", he claimed.

A number of Bahraini activists in exile have used social media to criticise the policies of the government and harsh crackdown on dissent by authorities.

Bahrain has some of the toughest restrictions on conventional media and has been increasingly forceful in clamping down on criticism via social media platforms such as Twitter.

Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab was given five more years in jail in February for "insulting" tweets, following his criticism of the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.

Manama also jailed one person for a tweet deemed sympathetic to Qatar, which is under a blockade by Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Other Bahrain dissidents have used Twitter this week to highlight hunger strikes by female relatives and accusing authorities of stripping one woman naked after a family visit.

Gulf states have launched a massive crackdown on online dissent with a number of new cyber laws.

Bahrain launched a crackdown on dissent after popular protests in 2011 threatened to topple with government with a Saudi-UAE led Gulf military police force intervening in the crisis.

Dissent has not been tolerated since then, particularly from the country's Shia majority.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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