A while ago a Swedish citizen was sentenced to jail in Bahrain for participating in the ongoing protests. He also risks the death penalty, and is by far not the only person put on trial. For example human rights’ activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja was arrested in april and has now had the trial against him postponed until June.
Carl F Kleberg, a former colleague of mine at the Swedish news agency TT, has been covering these events. Since Denmark, a neighbouring country to Sweden, was granted permission to monitor the trials, he called the Foreign Ministry of Sweden on Wednesday to ask whether Sweden had requested to do the same. The day after, yesterday, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt sends this tweet to Khalid al-Khalifa, his counterpart in Bahrain:
What issue may it be that the Swedish minister is trying to get in contact about? Of course we don’t know. But I can’t make up my mind on what’s going on here. Let’s say for a moment that Carl Bildt indeed wants to discuss the whereabouts of his citizen – why in this public way? Do they not follow each other on twitter – why not DM in that case?
And if Khalifa DOESN’T follow Carl Bildt on twitter – how should that be perceived?
- Has he been ignoring the swede’s e-mails and this is a last resort?
- Did Sweden not realise until the reporter called that they may want to monitor that their citizen gets a fair trial?
- Or is it a way for Carl Bildt to show the comparably twitter-friendly Bahrainis (on both sides) that Bahrain is not keeping up diplomatic ties? – His tweet did get re-tweeted by twenty-eight people, myself and my colleague included.
Carl Bildt has, already as the prime minister of Sweden in the early 90’s, pictured himself as tech-savvy. He and Bill Clinton made a big deal out of being the first national leaders that exchanged e-mails, and he posed on tv writing (using only an index-finger!) his well-subscribed news-letter that over the years turned into a blog and a twitter account.
Wikileaks/Cablegate described Sweden’s Foreign minister as “a medium-sized dog with a big dog-attitude”.
On paper, if Sweden (9 million citizens) is medium-sized, that should make Bahrain (around 600k citizens) look small in comparizon. On the other hand Sweden is “neutral” while Bahrain has allies such as USA and Saudi Arabia.
In the end though, regardless of attitude, on twitter as well as in real life, I guess the biggest (*insert word of choice here*) on the block will be the one who has the coolest friends…
And, speaking of Bahrain, saw this today:
“Bahrain’s global peace ranking has dropped 51 places to 123 out of 153 countries according to a report by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
The Gulf state, which faced a wave of Shi’ite-led protests in February and March that left at least 29 people dead, was the second biggest fall after Libya which declined 83 places to 143 position.”
Sweden also declined, three places, to 13th position.
UPDATE: I just found that the newsagency AP, that now and then are kind enough to pay a visit to this blog, also did a story on the Khalifa/Bildt issue. It widens the story to other Foreign Ministers, such as Finland’s Alexander Stubb. Check the link below to get to my post about Bahrain’s reply.
CORRECTION: It is Associated Newspapers that occationally has been visiting my blog, not AP. Although they have arrived now as well. Well, everyone is welcome! 🙂