SEVEN more sites, including the hugely popular Bahraini blog mahmood.tv, have allegedly been ordered to be blocked by the Information Ministry.
The blog, owned by Mahmood Al Yousif, attracts over four million hits a month and at least 100,000 a day from all over the world.
Mr Al Yousif claims he came to know about the decision through a leaked document bearing the signature of Information Minister Dr Mohammed Abdul Ghaffar.
The memo names mahmood.tv among the seven sites which were ordered to be blocked in accordance with law 47 of 2002, dealing with publications and the Press.
"They are treating me like a journalist by applying this law, which, under articles 19 and 20, accuses me of seditious intent and blasphemy," Mr Al Yousif told the GDN.
He warned that such a move could backfire. Mr Al Yousif has already been contacted by Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), a freedom of speech advocacy group, and he expects the alleged move by the ministry to receive widespread publicity.
The other sites that were named on the memo were annaqed.com, freecopts.net, arabchurch.com, ladeeni.net, albawaba.com and kurdtimes.com. It is understood that none of these sites are run from Bahrain.
This brings the total to 17 sites that the Information Ministry has apparently blocked, not counting pornography sites. The leaking of the document came as Mr Al Yousif was about to launch a call for Internet users in Bahrain to support a global online demonstration against censorship.
Mr Al Yousif had earlier spoken to the GDN, urging other bloggers and Internet users to take part in the initiative by the RSF.
All hits to the site rsf.org from noon on November 7 until the same time the next day will be registered as a call of support for freedom of speech.
Mr Al Yousif said that this was particularly important given attempts by authorities to block certain websites.
"Every hit that the site receives will demonstrate the solidarity of Internet users with the RSF to fight against censorship," he said.
Mr Al Yousif will put a graphic with a link to the site on his hugely popular blog mahmood.tv directing traffic towards the site.
The graphic can also be downloaded, with instructions on how other bloggers and webmasters can include it on their site.
"I will also be emailing it to bloggers I know," said Mr Al Yousif.
The RSF initiative coincides with a call by Amnesty International to bloggers asking them to stand up for freedom of expression on the Internet.
The organisation says this is a critical time when fundamental rights, particularly freedom of expression and privacy, are under threat from governments that want to control what their citizens say, and what information they can access.
The call comes as the online world prepares to meet at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Athens, Greec, from Monday to Thursday to discuss the future of the Internet. Amnesty released a statement to the IGF and is sending a delegation to ensure that human rights are not sidelined and remain the main focus of the discussions.
Amnesty's International's statement also coincides with an urgent appeal on behalf of a blogger in Iran who was detained this month.
Kianoosh Sanjari was arrested earlier this month while reporting on clashes between security forces and supporters of Shi'ite cleric Ayatollah Boroujerdi.
He is being held incommunicado and Amnesty International fears that he may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment.
Sanjari had allegedly gone to the home of Ayatollah Boroujerdi in Tehran, to prepare a report on the clashes that were taking place there.
"Freedom of expression online is a right, not a privilege - and it's a right that needs to be defended. We're asking bloggers worldwide to show their solidarity with web users in countries where they can face jail just for criticising the government," said Steve Ballinger, a member of Amnesty International's delegation to the IGF.
"The IGF needs to know that the online community is concerned about free expression online and is willing to stand up for it."