An Al Jazeera documentary showing anti-government protests in Bahrain has become an unlikely battleground for supporters and opponents of the Gulf state's governing authorities.
The 50-minute documentary, entitled 'Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark', has received nearly 900,000 votes and is currently in top position to win the UK’s RadioTimes.com poll for best Bafta-nominated current affairs film.
RadioTimes.com has received a flood of nominations in the category since it announced the poll two weeks ago. The flurry of votes was prompted in part after Bahrain’s foreign minister Khalid Al Khalifa took to Twitter to urge his 80,000 followers to vote against the documentary.
“I call on everyone to stand with Bahrain and vote against the harmful Al Jazeera film,” he 'tweeted'.
The tweet sparked not only a flurry of nominations for the Channel 4 documentary, 'Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields', but also for Shouting in the Dark after pro democracy supporters urged their followers to vote for the documentary.
“Urgent - by the time you finish reading this line the thugs will have turned the tables on us - vote for the film Shouting in the Dark,” wrote anti government protester wrote on Twitter.
“For a British entertainment website to become a battleground between Bahrain government loyalists and its opponents has been an unexpected and extraordinary turn of events,” Tim Glanfield, acting editor for RadioTimes.com, said.
Al Jazeera, in a statement published on RadioTimes.com, said they were “surprised by the level of opposition to the film” and said it had “been equally taken aback by the positive reaction.”
The film, shot undercover over three months by the journalist May Ying Welsh, showed continued anti-government protests in the Gulf state. The documentary, which aired on Al Jazeera’s English language channel, but not in Arabic, provoked outrage among officials in Bahrain last year.
Pro-government newspaper Gulf Daily News in August slammed the documentary, adding that politicians were in the process of “reviewing mechanisms to refute the lies and slanders about Bahrain”.
The film, which is also competing against two BBC programmes, 'The Truth about Adoption' and 'Undercover Care', has won a string of other awards including a Royal Television Society nomination, a UK Foreign Press Association award and a number of US prizes.