Bahrain bans newspaper for 'sowing division'

DUBAI (AFP) - The government in Sunni-ruled Bahrain announced on Sunday (June 4) an indefinite ban on the independent Al-Wasat newspaper on accusations that it publishes "what sows division" in the Shiite-majority Gulf kingdom.

The Ministry of Information Affairs said it had decided to bar the publication and stop its circulation "until further notice", according BNA state news agency, without specifying if the ban affects the electronic edition.

The order was due to Al-Wasat's "violation of the law and repeatedly publishing what sows division in the society and affects Bahrain's relations with other states", BNA said.

The decision came after the paper published an article on Sunday that was "offensive to a sisterly Arab state", BNA said, in an apparent reference to an article that praised protests in Morocco.

Authorities in Bahrain had suspended the electronic edition of Al-Wasat for few days in January over accusations of sowing sedition and harming national unity.

The newspaper was also suspended for two days in August 2015 on similar charges.

Bahrain has been rocked by sporadic unrest since March 2011 when security forces brutally crushed an Arab Spring-inspired uprising.

At the height of the 2011 uprising, Al-Wasat was suspended and its chief editor Mansoor al-Jamri tried and fined for publishing false information.

The latest ban comes as authorities intensify a crackdown on the opposition, with police shooting dead five demonstrators last month as security forces dismantled a months-long sit-in.