A man who insulted the King of Bahrain on Twitter has been sentenced to six months in jail as the tiny island nation ramps up its crackdown on dissent amid increasingly violent protests.
The man, whose name was not released, was one of four on trial for “defaming” King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, with the rest to be sentenced next week. It came as hundreds took to the streets to voice their anger over a ban on protesting.
The monarchy brutally stamped out a pro-democracy uprising last year but tensions between the government and protesters have been building once more, with marches taking place near daily in recent weeks and often ending in violent clashes with molotov cocktails and tear gas exchanged. Two protesters have been shot dead by security forces in recent weeks.
A ban on protesting – the most significant rolling back of freedoms since the government temporarily imposed martial law last year – was announced this week, but has only served to stoke tensions. Bahrain’s Interior Ministry said that “repeated abuse” of the right to freedom of speech had forced them to make the move, adding that the ban was intended to be temporary.