Bahraini sentenced to one year in prison for burning Qatari flag

July 12, 2010

Bahrain’s lower criminal court on Monday sentenced a Bahraini man to one year in prison after he was found guilty of burning the Qatari flag.

According to court documents, the man was among a crowd of people who staged a rally in front of the Qatari embassy in Bahrain on June 14 to press for the release of dozens of Bahrain-based fishermen held by Doha for allegedly straying into Qatari waters.

However, while the protest was smooth and peaceful, the unnamed Bahraini was held by the police for allegedly burning the Qatari flag, an unlawful act in Bahrain where verbal or written attacks on the leaders, symbols and icons of “sisterly and friendly” states are banned.

The rally was sparked by a bitter standoff between Doha and Manama after Qatari coastguards in May shot a Bahraini fisherman for allegedly entering Qatari waters and ignoring warnings to leave.

Adel Al Taweel, 37, was subsequently treated at a Doha hospital and detained, despite repeated calls for his release, until a Qatari court on Thursday allowed him to go home. All the other 106 Bahraini and Asian fishermen were earlier released after the leaders of both countries discussed the matter over the phone.

Manama and Doha had locked horns over a border dispute in the 1990s, but the standoff was resolved by the International Court of Justice in March 2001. The two neighbours accepted the verdict and pledged to start a new chapter in their relations and cooperation that included building the world’s largest causeway to link them.

However, tension surfaced after Qatar opposed Bahrain’s nomination last year of Mohammad Al Mutawa, a former information minister, as the next secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Doha is critical of Al Mutawa, currently the cultural advisor to Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, for his statements as information minister during the border dispute.

Saudi King Abdullah eventually stepped in to address the issue and Bahrain nominated Abdul Lateef Al Zayani, the former head of public security, to the position that will be officially announced at the next GCC summit in Abu Dhabi.

Al Zayani, if endorsed by the six GCC member states, will take over in April from incumbent secretary general Abdul Rahman Al Atiyyah, a Qatari national.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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