Bahrain urges loyalty pledge on Facebook, Twitter

Government officials in Bahrain are asking citizens to post pledges of loyalty on Facebook and Twitter in the latest of a series of propaganda moves.

Demonstrations by Shiites in the country, who seek political reform, were crushed by the ruling Sunni monarchy, which is now looking to social networking as a way to affirm its dominance over the country.

Other countries in the region banned social networks or closed down Internet service providers altogether to crack down on uprisings, but Bahrain's approach is designed to put a positive PR spin on things and highlight to the world that it has a large following.

The country launched an online campaign called “We Are All Hamad,” asking people to post pictures of Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the country's king, on their Facebook and Twitter pages, along with other websites. The country's state-run news agency claimed that 10,000 people have already done this in the first week alone.

Bahrain's government has also been making use of YouTube, where it posted videos about a number of people who killed two policemen last month. The government labelled the four people as “traitors” and “beasts”, issuing death sentences for them, while completely glossing over the fact that at least 30 citizens have died in violent clashes with government forces in the uprising.

Tensions between Bahrain and Iran are a major reason for the move. Shiite-led Iran has been criticising the country for some time now and Bahrain has answered by telling investors to cut their Iranian ties and “buy Bahrain”.