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Friday, December 28, 2012

Bahrain Detains Officer for Slapping Man

Although Bahrain has previously failed to prosecute members of the security forces caught on video shooting unarmed protesters, this week an officer who slapped a man with a baby in his arms was detained after video of the incident attracted wide attention.

The activist Ala'a Shehabi drew attention to the video, which was recorded on Sunday in the village of A'ali.

The clip, which has been viewed more than 450,000 times this week, prompted Bahrain's interior ministry to announce that the officer had been detained pending an investigation.

After video of another incident was posted online, Bahrain's interior minister “condemned the behavior of policemen seen recently in videos circulating on social media” in a statement. The minister also asked members of the public who record such violations to report them to the authorities.

An opposition activist who blogs as Chan'ad Bahraini suggested that it was odd for the government to encourage witnesses who record abusive behavior by the police to come forward less than two weeks after jailing a leading rights activist for documenting injuries suffered by a protester on Twitter.

As Mohamed Hassan pointed out in a post for Global Voices, however, the interior ministry's official statements were undermined by comments made by Bahrain's police chief, Tariq al-Hassan. In a series of updates on his personal Twitter account translated by the Global Voices blogger, the senior police official suggested that such video recording of police brutality were part of a plot:

Attempts to defame the ministry of interior and its staff is a part of a fierce war by known and exposed persons and organizations after their previous plans have failed.

Those organizations and their followers use derogatory terms towards policemen to demean their personalities and incite hate towards them among the people young and old.

They set up ambushes for policemen based on scenarios prepared by media professionals working in known media channels in other countries and then filmed and released when needed.

These traitorous fakers publish those scenes and exaggerate them as they are instructed and the way that fits the go als of those countries and theirs.

The Global Voices blogger also translated a Twitter comment from the Qatari journalist Mohamed Fahad Alqahtani, who observed: “The slap video is agonizing because it is a testimony that the dignity of a human is the least appreciated thing on the priority list of some Gulf police states. What a shame!”