A military officer belonging to Bahrain’s royal family allegedly shot a female sports journalist “at point blank” range on Dec. 23.
Iman Salehi was reportedly in her car with her 6-year-old son when a military officer harassed her. When Salehi refused his advances, he shot her.
Since the suspect is believed to be a member of the House of Khalifa, the ruling family of Bahrain, and the Gulf country has a highly restricted environment for press freedom, there isn’t much information available about Salehi’s alleged murder in local media.
However, Ala’a Shehabi, co-founder of Bahrain Watch — a pro-democracy "research and advocacy organization" that covers issues related to Bahrain — tweeted details about the killing that took place in the city of Riffa.
The European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights, a non-governmental independent international organization based in Bern, Switzerland, also confirmed Salehi’s shooting death.
Shehabi stated the military officer “was trying to give his number to her.”
According to media the 6 yo son of Eman was main witness & Alkhalifa officer was trying to give his number to her https://t.co/nRDLN90Dxv— Ala'a Shehabi (@alaashehabi) December 25, 2016
In addition, Salehi’s case gets even more “complicated,” Shehabi added, considering she belongs to the Shiite sect.
Bahrain is a Shiite majority nation ruled by a Sunni monarchy, which has been in power since 1783 and controls all political and military affairs.
Although friction simmered between the masses and ruling family for years over unequal rights and distribution of power, the situation came to a head in 2011 when the Arab Spring reached Bahrain in the form of civil disobedience by the Shiite majority.
For nearly six years now, there have been many anti-government protests and attempts by the government to quell those protests. As a result, freedom of speech has also suffered in the country.
Journalists in Bahrain face a five-year jail term in case the rulers deem anything offensive to their family or religion. Since 2011, many journalists and bloggers have been jailed. In fact, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has described Bahrain as the "kingdom of disinformation" and also added the country to its "Enemies of the Internet" list.
Shahebi also tweeted the suspect in Salehi’s shooting had turned himself to the police, adding he is currently in military custody and is likely to face a military trial.
Killer handed himself to the police after the murder. He is in military custody & will face a military trial testing the limits of impunity— Ala'a Shehabi (@alaashehabi) December 25, 2016
Meanwhile, Al Wasat, a local Arabic-language daily newspaper, reported Salehi's family has requested the media to refrain from spreading false information related to the incident since the only witness to this crime is Salehi’s son, who is still in shock.