Bahrain will follow the UAE and jail anyone in the kingdom who expresses sympathy for Qatar over sanctions and a blockade imposed by its Gulf neighbours.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar over claims Doha is working with “terrorist groups” and is moving closer to Iran.
Qatar firmly denies the allegations.
“Any expression of sympathy with the government of Qatar or opposition to the measures taken by the government of Bahrain, whether through social media, Twitter or any other form of communication, is a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine,” a Bahraini interior ministry statement said.
It comes after Bahrain demanded Qatar cut ties with Iran, with Manama believing protests Shia-led protests in Bahrain have been orchestrated by Tehran.
The move follows a similar announcement by the UAE to punish anyone expressing sympathy with Qatar with between three and 15 years and jail and a fine of 500,000 dirhams ($136,125, 120,715 euros).
Bahrain and Qatar both host important US military bases. Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, while Qatar is the base for the largest American military airfield in the Middle East.
Sunni-ruled Bahrain’s strict cyber crime law prohibits the expression of dissent online, including via social media.
Nabeel Rajab, one of the country’s most high-profile activists, is currently on trial for a series of tweets criticising a Saudi-led Arab military campaign in Yemen.