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Bahrain Propaganda 101: Regime Looking for a Few Good Women on Twitter

Bahraini Ministry of Interior message, February 2012

One of the distinctive features of the political conflict in Bahrain, soon after the start of the mass protests in February 2011, has been the intensity of the exchanges on social media.

Opposition activists have been prominent in their dissemination of information and videos. Bahraini officials have encouraged their supporters to put forward the regime case, and public-relations firms have been given large contracts to work with those officials on social media strategy. Meanwhile, senior opposition figures and human rights activists such as Nabeel Rajab and Said Yousif AlMuhafda have been imprisoned for their Tweets.

This week the regime-linked Gulf Daily News posted an article on a new social media effort by the ruling AlKhalifa family:

Young women will get training on how to use Twitter to help combat false information being circulated about Bahrain.

The initiative is being spearheaded by the Children and Mothers' Welfare Society for its younger members.

It was announced yesterday during a Press conference at the society, in Isa Town, and will be led by Al Arabiya chief reporter Mohammed Al Arab.

He was among those at yesterday's event, during which women who will take part were presented iPads to help them in their mission.

"The public has come to rely on Twitter and other social networking websites for news and updates because it's convenient, fast and reachable," said society cultural committee head Ebtisam Al Jamea.

"Twitter is now a means of media, not just a social networking website."

The women participating in the course will be taught how to get their message across more effectively.

"We are holding a series of training sessions for young Bahraini women who have shown an interest in making their thoughts about the situation in Bahrain heard on social media," said Ms Al Jamea.

"The social committee is honouring these young women for their efforts to spread the good word about Bahrain, and provide them with the means necessary to make a difference."

Meanwhile, Mr Al Arab highlighted the importance of international media and how they viewed the situation in Bahrain.

"The international media does not believe what has been spread by opposition parties regarding the unrest in 2011," he claimed.

"We are trying to change the view of journalists around the world and show them what is going on, on the ground,

"I have successfully invited 400 journalists from around the world to visit Bahrain.

"We took them around Bahrain, let them roam free and ask people on the streets what is really going on. "

The training initiative is being held under the patronage of society president Shaikha Hind bint Salman Al Khalifa.

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