We are seeing an alarming drop in Tweeting throughout all of Bahrain right now. Normally Bahrain has a very active tweeting community, but this afternoon we have seen a rapid drop in geo-tagged tweets. This could be a technical issue and we will continue to track, hoping to see levels in the Capital return to their 30 on our scale.
We are concerned that this drop may be a result of increasing campaign of repression being carried out under the occupation. Bahrain's protesters are probably wisely using proxy servers and Tor more, but there is also a concern that the government is slowing the Internet down to disrupt communications.
Bahrain remains potentially one of the most intractable issues in the Arab revolt. And as we have seen in Libya the alternative to a engaged cyber-activism is no longer silence but bloodshed. The people of Bahrain can only benefit from dialog and communication, and a regime effort to silence the population will likely simply create violence.
But from what we are reading in pro-government tweets that is precisely what the Regime wants. The Bahrain Regime probably feels it can deal with a violent uprising, but not a web enabled long term peaceful one, and it desperately wants to group protesters with the regime in Iran, despite not being able to produce any evidence for this.
What we imagine is that the Bahrain Regime and the Saudis are desperately trying to re-establish the old order: dominated by sectarian violence and concern for terrorism which justified repressive regimes. Governments in the Arab world generally benefit from terrorism, and it is no accident that major terrorist groups have come from the Arab world. Despite racist claims that the people of the Arab world were culturally prone to violence, we are starting to get a more complete picture of societies exploited by regimes that promoted and even carried out acts of terrorism as a routine means of political control. All the established powers in the region, including the US, Europe, and Israel justified ignoring the desires of local populations with terrorism, including invasions and occupations.
In Bahrain, as in Egypt and Tunisia we are seeing a people trying to remain peaceful under the most difficult conditions. The Arab revolt deserves a great deal of admiration or this.
UPDATE: We are happy to see tweeting rise a bit in the past half hour. Hopefully the drop was due mostly to technical problems. But we will keep watching.