Western PR firms hired to help soften Bahrain's image

Spin doctors silence democratic dissidents and help lobby Washington

Get me a spin doctor!

Hasan Jamali/AP

A year after the Arab Spring took root in Bahrain—and 35 protesters were killed—its streets are once again filled with dissidents and police. But this time, the government in Manama has some aid from Western PR firms like Qorvis Communications, hired to help lobby Washington and soften Bahrain’s image in the Western media. As recently reported, Tom Squitieri, a self-styled journalist who blames protesters for violence in Bahrain in his blogs for Foreign Policy and the Huffington Post, is paid by Qorvis to work “with the Bahrain government on media awareness and press freedom.”

Bahrain also appointed former police chiefs from the U.S. and Britain to help reform its security forces, which have faced accusations of human rights abuse. Even so, more than 120 people have been injured in clashes between police and protesters, as arrest raids are conducted house to house in villages outside the capital. Maybe Bahrain needs more than spin doctors and “kettling” experts to silence its democratic dissidents.

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