Bahrain accused of targeting reporters in crackdown on anti-government protests
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Bahrain accused of targeting reporters in crackdown on anti-government protests

Watchdog says kingdom has revoked the citizenship of 7 journalists and social media activists to force outlets to 'toe the government line'

Bahraini demonstrators attend a protest against the revocation of the citizenship of top Bahraini Shiite cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, near his house in the village of Diraz, west of the capital Manama, June 20, 2016 (AFP/Mohammed Al-Shaikh)
Bahraini demonstrators attend a protest against the revocation of the citizenship of top Bahraini Shiite cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, near his house in the village of Diraz, west of the capital Manama, June 20, 2016 (AFP/Mohammed Al-Shaikh)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An international media watchdog group said the Arab Gulf state of Bahrain has revoked the citizenship of seven journalists and social media activists since a wave of anti-government protests broke out seven years ago.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Wednesday, on the anniversary of the 2011 uprising, that Bahraini authorities have used this form of penalty with the aim of pressuring media outlets to essentially “toe the government line.” More than 550 people have been stripped of their citizenship since 2012, according to rights groups.

Bahrain’s Sunni-led government has tried dozens of activists on the Shiite-majority island with 15 journalists and citizen-journalists currently imprisoned in Bahrain.

Authorities have also shuttered the independent Al Wasat newspaper.

RSF ranks Bahrain 164 out of 180 countries on its World Press Freedom Index.

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