Foreign media to cover Bahrain polls
Manama, September 22, 2011
Foreign journalists will be allowed into Bahrain to cover Saturday's by-election, despite fears they will use the polls as a cover to film one-sided broadcasts with radical groups, said a senior official.
The Information Affairs Authority official said he expected foreign reporters to disappear into villages to interview rioters bent on indulging in violence.
Our sister publication the Gulf Daily News reported earlier this week that cleaning companies had suspended operations in some areas after their staff were threatened by masked gangs, who block streets with concrete blocks, garbage and other debris and confront police.
'The authorities cannot stop foreign journalists covering the election, but some reporters will not stay in hotels but go in the villages to get their stories,' the official said. 'They will go out with anti-government protesters and depict bad image of the country.'
He added that social networking website Twitter was still being used to spread false news about the current situation, but said there were no plans to block the service.
However, he admitted authorities were monitoring online activity ahead of the by-election - including details of planned protests that could disrupt the polls, as well as cyber attacks.
'Some groups do not want people to vote,' he said. 'They are spreading this message online or targeting websites by inserting anti-government messages.'
One group has even created proxy sites of international news websites such as the one belonging to the BBC, doctoring the address to make it read bbc.co.uk.14feb-youth.com.
However, the official added there had been fewer hacking attempts from Iran. 'The hacking activities from Iran have reduced, which in the past targeted government websites,' he said. – TradeArabia News Service