Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

26 Feb, '04

So the Big Brother production team are in a quandary, give in to the pressure they are facing from our friends the Islamists, shut down and move, of just ignore the criticism and carry on?

They apparently chose to calm these Islamists down by trying to set up a committee of religious figures to oversee the production. Here are the people who have been invited to the Big Brother House yesterday:

Religious figures visit the Big Brother House in Amwaj Islands, Bahrain to see the production facilities first hand

Smart. They’ve included both Shia and Sunni judges so that they can calm the whole island down.

The result? A demand from these religious guys for assurances that (1) the Islamic religion is going to be respected at all times, (2) women MUST wear the hijab (cover up), (3) all episodes must be screened by them before broadcasting.

The second guy from the left (Muhsin Al-Asfoor) apparently recognised the commercial value of the program as it employs some 200 Bahrainis in the production and postproduction. He probably realises too that the production team have also rented countless flats and houses, hired transport, buy food and goods, etc which culminates in a total budget between US$15m to 20m for the production period. Apparently MBC signed an agreement with the Ministry of Information for the rights to run for 7 years and that budget will be duplicated on the island every single year.

Remember that it is best to teach someone to fish then giving them food? Whether we like this program or not, MBC is doing just that and paying the Bahrainis excellent salaries they would never dream of getting from Bahrain TV or most other production houses.

Now for the rogues’ galleries, starting with those opposed (Adel Al-Moawdah and Mohammed Khalid):

Bahraini MP Adel Al-MoawdahBahraini MP Mohammed Khaled

For: or at least don’t want to waste their time on such trivial matters like a television show (Fareed Ghazi and Abdulnabi Salman):

Bahraini MP Fareed GhaziBahraini MP Abdulnabi Salman

The guy in the Islamists vice-grip (Nabeel Al-Hamar, Minister of Information):

Bahriani Information Minister Nabeel Al-Hamar

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Comments (52)

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  1. anonymous says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    It is in the best interest of our goverment to please these f***ing peanut heads… Im sure our gov’t have learnt thier lesson quite some time back with Nancy saga. If these ”religious figures” don’t get their own way, all hell breaks loose and what do you get? Riots!!!! – stone throwing, graffiti, molotov cocktails.. the whole works! haha.. In my opinion, MBC shouldnt need to worry… any publicity, is good publicity! =) c-ya

  2. anonymous says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    If the media fails in its ethical role to uphold islamic principles then they should bear the wrath of the religious sections of society. The issue is not of ‘changing the channel’ and ignoring the existence of such a program but one of determining the line to be drawn on what is shown and what isnt in the name of Arab media. The line is very clear when it comes to politics, but when it comes to [b]religion[/b] the boundaries are smudged. I dont want to be so damning of ‘islamists’ but they do tend to look at the finer details rather than the big picture and exaggerate things which would otherwise go un-noticed, but I gotta admit that on this point, BB Arabia in essence is very unislamic and financially driven.


  3. anonymous says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    You can’t do deals with these Islamists – it just encourages them. I don’t care whether its esalah, al-wefaq, or for that matter bahrainia, as soon as these guys campaign on an issue you can be guaranteed that their brownshirted thugs won’t be far behind.

    Islamic extremism and terrorism go hand in hand no question about it. Bahrain’s government shouldn’t feel the need to give in to either.

  4. anonymous says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    What has terrorism gotta do with anything?!?! Please tell me oh ever so ‘enlightened’ one. What happened to freedom of speech? The islamists have just as much right to air their concerns as the liberals. But when they do do so, they get accused of extremism and terrorism. Dont get me wrong, im not defending them, but these ppl genuinely believe this program goes against their values and traditions.

  5. anonymous says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    BB Arabia is unislamic and financially driven? since when does entertainment HAVE to be islamic? entertainment is just that..entertaining.
    a lotta ppl here in the Arab world are so obsessed with the fact that everything on TV has to have some sort of educational benefit or something (no wonder no one watches BTV, hell, if they aired American Idol,the new Star Wars Movie and showed pay-per-view events for free, i still wouldn’t watch and neither will anyone else)
    and “financially driven”? what show isn’t? they’re not doing it for charity,for god’s sake! it IS a business in the end…those 200 or so employees, who’s gonna pay them?not to mention the millions MBC spent, they gotta get something in return, i’m guessing u majored in Science! *j/k*
    i’m not defending the show in any way,i mean it sucks, but there’s just something about watching these nitwits running around that sort of grabs me.

    And just for the ppl out there who just HAVE to have some sort of educational benefit out of the show, here it is,” imagine those 12 ppl are part of an experiment to study human behavior”.A 3-month SCIENTIFIC experiment (faydeh 3ilmiyeh).

  6. anonymous says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    yeah i agree, ethics just gets thrown out of the window when capitalists take over. Just to point out to you mate, entertainment has to be islamic if it is to be broadcast from Bahrain, as the 2002 ‘imposed’ constitution of which the Ministry abides by, states that Islam is the religion of the land and is the main source of legalisation. Hence, IF this program contradicts islamic principles, it shouldnt be allowed to be broadcast from Bahrain – I mean if u wana take the issue this far then we can do so. Although in my humble opinion, this debate is hardly worth the effort, but i guess now its a matter of principle.

    State-sponsered telivision just sucks in the middle-east spurting out lies and propaganda, and the private media that does exist is just profit-driven. Thats why in the UK, the BBC is so accountable to tax-paying viewers yet no one can critisize ITV cos its not the viewers that are paying for it!! So how do we strike a balance in the middle-east? Its just a no-win situation. Viewers just have no choice in the middle-east. Thats why no one is questioning the MBC over this debacle, the issue centres on the Minister of Information giving his approval for the show to take place on bahraini soil, and he has to take the flack. My problem is with MBC itself.


  7. anonymous says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    MBC = a company ! money making? OFCOURSE! goals to promote islam? OFCOURSE NOT! and why should they? It’s a private company!
    They can do what the hell they want!! Are they breaking any laws of the country? NO, thyre not. If I was directing the show, i wouldnt let a bunch f***ing religious sheikhs screw with me.. Yeah, sure they’re entitled to thier own opinion, but they should keep it to themselves… legally, BigBro aint at fault for anything.. =)

  8. anonymous says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Maybe u should go and live somewhere else. Hope u have luck finding a country which has no media laws. Long lives capitalism!!


  9. yousifnet says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Al-moawdah and Khalid make me laugh really! If they disagree with the pricipals of BBarabia, why don’t they say something about the mixing of pupils in private schools and even in the only goverment university in bahrain UOB. and while there at it, why don’t they start a campign to seperate men from women in all fields of life schools, banks, offices, ministeries, hospitals (can you imagine that!). If their demands were geniune they would have not only focused on a tv program and ignored the rest. Besides, i think their demands are absurd. They want us to go back to the era of camels and tents. Too extreme and they should be ignored by MBC, Ministry of Information and the pareliment, UNLESS the majority of bahrainis think this way and i strongly doubt that.

    Regarding Al Asfoor and Al Thawadis request to force Hijab (head cover) on women, its just as absurd as Al moawdahs arguments. Have they went out recently? Yes quite a large number of Bahraini women cover their hair with the Hijab but not all. Besides, it was never forced upon them and it shouldn’t be forced because it is something personal between the person and her believes not to mention that some people believe that its not compulsary in islam. One last thing, BBarabia is in bahrain but its not intended for bahrainis only! People from around the arabic world see this program with different views and beliefs. I don’t see WHY it should only reflect the bahraini society and not the whole of the arab world!

  10. anonymous says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Would somebody be kind enough to tell me how these ‘figures’ got their positions as MPs? I understand that they were elected, but what qualifications/qualities were needed prior to becoming a potential candidate to run for local elections?

  11. adore says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    who said they ever needed qualifications?! i bet they cant even spell the damn word! grow a beard and ur in!

  12. yousifnet says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    well don’t forget that this is the first pareliment in more than 30 years. Some people didn’t vote, others didn’t know who to vote for because everyone is new to them. Some just won the vote because no one nominated him self for a certain constituancy

  13. adore says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    what is the matter with these people? do they only have one button on their remote controllers?!change the friggin’ channel and move on. The only reason i watch the show is because these guys are opposed to it (same goes for Nancy, i love her now because she pissed them off)..

  14. mahmood says:

    Re: Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    As Bahrain has a multitude of religions in its citizenship, should the media also be held responsible for promoting the values and ideals of Jews, Christians and Hindus? What about athiests and socialists and liberals? Should their issues be furthered as well?

    This is not the main premise of television. It’s mandate is to primarily entertain and to a minor extent educate.

    Now to your contention that Big Brother Arabia is “very unislamic and financially driven”, so what? Who said that every single soul in Bahrain or the millions who watch it are primarily concerned with the image of Islam? If you want Islamic teachings and discussions, there are a multitude of shows on both TV and Radio for those who want it.

    I maintain that people who would watch this show primarily watch it for its entertainment content rather than deep political or theological issues.

    Take this for granted, with the advent of satellite television and radio, there is NOTHING holding an investor from creating their programs ANYWHERE on earth. It is a governments and private sector’s responsibility to attract these companies to the island to ensure that business is done, money is circulated and most importantly new “knowledge” jobs created.

    The media should NOT be used by private investors or governments to promote their own version of religious beliefs.

    Ultimately the fact remains, if anyone has an issue with a program by all means voice it, but don’t impose your voice on others. The viewer ultimately has FULL control, just switch the channel!

  15. mahmood says:

    Re: Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    This happens with all fanatics, both Islamists and others. Wars have been and will continue to be waged in the name of one ideal or another.

    Our responsibility as modern citizens is to make our opinions absolutely known – loud and clear through peacefull means – that the only way to solve an issue is through an elected and accountable legislature. Resorting to violance and incitement to force one ideal or another on the populace even though a motion has been squarely defeated in parliament is not on.

    Doing anything else would demonstrate to the local and worldwide communities that we are just animals.

  16. mahmood says:

    Re: Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    They have absolutely every right to voice their opinions in all peacefull means. To paraphrase Voltaire, even if I don’t agree with a word they say, I will fight tooth and nail to ensure that they can, do and should voice their opinions.

    The objection against the Islamists however is that they “have God on their side” which seems to excuse their thinking that if anyone opposed their word – God word in their minds – then it is their God driven duty to ensure that their word is the one which is FOLLOWED and they will use any means possible to do so. If they are killed, encarcerated or ridiculed, of course it is in God’s Mercy that they will go directly to Heaven, whether that is right now if they are “martyred” or later after they die.


    What if their interpretation of the Word of God is contentious and more importantly proved to be incorrect? Should we just lie down and die because they have the exclusive right to interpret the Word of God?

  17. mahmood says:

    Ethical Capitalism

    Bahrainia, stating that “ethics just gets thrown out of the window when capitalists take over” is at best naive.

    Islam is a capitalist religion with rules and regulations even on the amount a profit a trader should make, and also has a multitude of laws dealing with finance and business, hence the rise of Islamic banking units, very successful ones I might add.

    The Prophet (pbuh) himself was a businessman, he traded first for an employer (his future wife) and went on several trading trips the lengths and breadths of Arabia and then later on trading for himself. Did he leave his ethics behind when he traded? Of course not, he was a capitalist. If capitalism to you is just trading.

    Of course there are very unethical businessmen and companies who are scandalised every day like those companies who use child-labour and take advantage of the poor, but MBC could hardly be put in the same bracket.

    What Islam has taught us is that there is nothing wrong with making a profit. It maintains that generating business supports the community and by trading with different cultures in fact can propagate the word of Islam far and wide.

    As to your contention that entertainment must be Islamic, can you explain to me please what form this entertainment might take and how should it be financed?

    Programs cost money, and the person(s) making the programs must be rewarded financially in order for him to go create more programs to entertain the masses, enriching himself monetarily, and the community who watch his programs by widening and opening their minds or just make them forget their daily life and laugh or cry or even just numb their senses for a short period of time.

    Let us briefly examine what “Islamic entertainment” might include: readings from the Holy Quran? programs to explain passages of the Quran and how they relate to modern life? Explanations of the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh) – all of these actually fall under the general headings of theological or religious programming. Not entertainment. Educational they might be but not entertaining.

    What about rehashing the past in gaudily covered actors and actresses depicting various eras of Islam from the 7th century to the present day? We are bombarded with these types of programs in Ramadhan but hardly have any followings. As you said, Middle-Eastern television is government funded and in these governments tiny minds they think that funding such programs will actually promote Islam. Entertaining? No. Giving rise to high blood pressure and the general feeling of despondency and defeat? Yes.

    About the only example which I can give of an entertaining Islamic production was “Al-Risalah” or “The Message” by Mustapha Akkad. An entertaining movie with a message.

    Are we ever going to see something like this work? Not if producers are not amply rewarded for their efforts. And not if the media continues to be controlled and subsidised by governments. If the media is not given a free run – a truly free run in how, what, when to produce and release, we will never get even close to start doing anything close to an Islamic entertainment work.

    But that that surely is not the issue here. If state-controlled media is specifically to produce Islamic themed works and you portray that as a must for Middle Eastern television and media in general, isn’t it their duty as well to cater to their minorities? Shouldn’t minorities enjoy the same benevolence? If the state (essentially) is to produce Islamic programming to cater for its citizens, then by the same token they should also produce Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Atheist, Socialist and Parsi content too! Even if only a single citizen in this country follows specific teachings or ideology, then it is his/her absolute right to demand that the same state-funded organ produce theological or theologically inspired content for his entertainment, enjoyment and edification.

    Do you not agree with me on these points? So what are we to do? We are a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society with differing views and our Islands beauty surely lies in our diversity. And a society does not grow unless mutual respect is entrenched and opinions – no matter how awkward must be protected. Hence, the simple practical solution must surely be not to broadcast ANY religious programming on television, else if they do, they MUST also provision content for the other ethnicities in our society.

    Disassociate entertainment from religion. They are mutually exclusive.

    Now you raise a very valid and respectable point in that the 2002 constitution – in your view – is illegitimate, but you also cite it in that it clearly says that “Islam is the religion of the land and is the main source of legislation,” fine I have no truck with that. I am a Muslim and am proud of my heritage and religion. But as a law student yourself, did you not notice that the wording clearly says that Islam is the “main source” of legislation, raising the fact that Islam is NOT THE ONLY source or legislation? This is true of both the 1973 and 2002 constitution. So the Bahraini constitution is not exclusive to Muslims only, nor is it the only source of laws. This gives me heart in that the constitution is not dead. And as it is not a “word descended from God” it can (and should) always be revised to be at par with the times. Calling it illegitimate is your prerogative, to me however it is a foundation amenable to revision, and as it is the document which the majority of the population accepted and based on which representatives were elected. It is good enough for me and I can assure you that it will undergo changes, maybe not in this largely incompetent legislature, but hopefully in the next, or the one after that. To me people who have not voted are as much citizens of this country as I am and they are fully entitled to their opinions. Their not putting their choice in the ballot box is commendable – provided that they did so with their own personal conviction rather than being peer-pressured not to do so.

    Whether you voted or not is immaterial. We have an accepted constitution now which should be respected.

    And no Bahrainia, I respectfully disagree, discussing these issues ARE worth the effort, for if you do not speak your mind and show your ideas clearly, then you have abrogated your civic responsibility. If you find this forum unconducive to these kinds of discussions, then do so in any other fora, but make your voice heard. Your voice is as valuable as any other Bahraini.

    Lastly, viewers in the Middle East have the most choice in television! Do you have any idea how many satellites are up there beaming their signals down? Do you know how many free-to-air channels there are? Literally hundreds! So we DO have a choice, the ultimate choice in whether to listen and believe state propaganda, or simply switch the channel and be entertained… even by such an “unislamic” program such as Big Brother Arabia!

    Finally Bahrainia, please do not think that this is an attack on you. I respect your opinion, I am trying to make my own opinion on the matters you raised clear.

  18. mahmood says:

    Re: Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    That’s uncalled for Bahrainia.

  19. mahmood says:

    Re: Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    There are of course rules for presenting oneself to be elected. The first and foremost is being seconded by at least 50 people from your immediate community, from your electoral area, second is to have a minimum of a degree or equivalent academic/vocational certificate although this one was not strictly applied to the candidates, have no criminal record, etc.

    The reason they got into parliament is because first and foremost they have been elected. Now the fact that 4 main societies boycotted the elections led people to believe that with the dirth of what is on offer, they might as well elect someone – as if people were compelled to vote or not vote.

    In any event, they are in parliament chosen by their people. It is our job as citizens to ensure that they know that they are being watched and we are looking for results that benefits the country and its communities, not their own personal gain.

  20. mahmood says:

    Re(2): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia


    I take issue with just the very last assertion you made and that is belittling the employment of 200 people against 20,000 unemployed. Using your own logic, that would be 19,800 unemployed now so even silly programs like this do make a dent in the vast numbers of unemployed we have.

    Further, these 200 who are working in the program now are knowledge workers getting salaries they wouldn’t dream of getting at Bahrain TV or other post-production houses. I promise you that by the end of the show, these will be highly skilled, highly sought after personnel who can work in ANY broadcast, newsroom or post-production facility with east and can and will write their own paycheck.

    What this program will do (and has done already to some extent) is give much needed life to the disperate and desperate film-making industry in Bahrain – and even the Gulf.

    So please do not belittle the economic ramifications of such an international show as this – regardless of how you feel about the content, contestants, decor, location, etc. The show happening in Bahrain should be absolutely encouraged from a business and economic stand-point as it is the litmus test every prospective investor in the knowledge and entertainment industries is watching with a beady eye.

    The furore of the Islamists is going to drive much needed capital and jobs from Bahrain – right into the wide open receiving arms of Dubai, Lebanon and Egypt.

    Please let us not let this happen. Let us send a clear message that Bahrain is a tolerant and receptive country with diverse business opportunities.

  21. anonymous says:

    Re: Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Mahmood, I respect and appreciate your very logical reasoning, and im glad we’ve taken the debate to a higher level. Why should I be offended, u were ever sooooo polite 😉 which is nice for a change:)

    You raised important points which I have learned from. Im not against a businessman making a profit from fair trade.

    What im essentially trying to question is the agenda in the media. Now, every newspaper, every TV channel, every internet site has an agenda, be one that belongs to an individual or a government or a businessman. No im not saying, its a conspiratorial agenda, but some sort of goal or framework in which the information they broadcast or publish is communicated with this in mind. When I say ‘islamic’ media. I dont mean one that is just full of sermons and historic dramas looking at victories past, the ‘golden era’ or whatever. Im saying one, that at least doesnt defy the religion. If you look at a standard Western channel, taking for example again the BBC, everything is kind of acceptable up until the 9pm watershed (ok excluding a few kisses and hugs here and there in some soaps- but these scenes will hardly go amiss if filtered out).

    I gotta disagree with you. I found the ramadan program line up on most of the Arabic channels ‘quite’ entertaining, and some programs even made the headlines for their storylines. In line with the spiritual nature of ramadan anyway. About the different religions. Im all for pluralism, why not have a program for the other religions?

    Actually Ive just met a very interesting kuwaiti lady finishing her PhD in islamic entertainment and recreation. I’ll post something when I have a chat with her about where to draw the line in entertainment. And Yes a line needs to be drawn somewhere. Pornography is entertainment (and very profitable indeed), and even for the sadisticly minded, paedophilia is entertaining, does that make it acceptable on a mainstream arab channel?

    As for the constitution and the parliament, to be honest, it is by definition a non-contractual one. I know i’ll probably get bombarded with hate comments for saying this. But what ppl voted for in the National charter is not the same as what eventually came in the 2002 constitution. The National Charter only got the 98% yes vote after the King made certain promises regarding the power of the two parliamentary chambers- promises which he completely threw out of the window. Hence, I feel, like many others, that everything is based on a deception and I give no credibility to the so-called ‘democracy’ that exists in Bahrain whatsoever. Moreover, other issues such as the geographical boundaries that were drawn, were all made on sectarian lines. In addition, to the 100,000 politically naturalised, on top of the sectarian discrimination that exists in the country. This isnt a conspiracy theory, it is a fact. Then what pisses me off, is when I read comments as the one posted here, that all the ones following in this line are extremists and terrorists. Well what drives terrorism and rioting is poverty. True Al mo3awda sparked off the whole Ajram debacle with his statements, but in the end it was a few teenagers who rioted outside the concert hall, with no orders from anyone. Bahrainis are peaceful people, and islam is a religion of peace and harmony.


  22. anonymous says:

    Re(1): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    I totally agree with the Islamists.How dare anyone attacks the Islamists, they are defending the religion that you all claim u belong to, even though u dont act as muslims by agreeing to this kind of tv show.How can you agree on what the Quran totally forbids. The islamists know what is right and wrong more than any other person. If our religion Islam does not agree with these kinds of acts, why don’t you all understand and try to stop it. Why do many of you agree with this meaningless stupid tv show that has absolutely no benefit. If Arab muslim countries don’t follow the Quran’s sayings and orders, then who will??Dont you all call yourselves muslims??…then act like muslims, and do what Allah ordered you to do…dont be stubborn and claim that these acts are of modern societies. These acts are meaningless and destroy muslim cultures. Many ppl say that this will improve the economy. God will ask every person in judgement day where did he earn his money from 7alal or 7aram, and this certainly is 7aram . how are you going to answer Allah if he asks you where did u earn your money from?what are you going to say??from 7aram…dont be stupid and say this is modern and mature ..this is the trash of western societies and is absolutely 7aram.. every true muslim should deny and disagree with this cheap useless show …because who doesnt…certainly doesnt have the characteristics of muslims

  23. mahmood says:

    Re(2): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    thank you, you have just illustrated several points aluded to in these comments.

  24. anonymous says:

    Re: Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    To yousif alsaif….what do u mean they want us to go back to the camel and tent ages??.These are the words of the Americans you are that extent they have an effect on you??…you’re trying to say that as time passes you should forget what Islam has ordered you to do??….Listen …whether in the most technological age or the oldest age…Islams rules should be obeyed….if you are a muslim…and believe in Allah

  25. anonymous says:

    Re(3): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Do you agree with what i just said ??

  26. mahmood says:

    Re(4): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    No, I do not agree with what you have said, but respect your right to say them.

  27. mahmood says:

    Re(1): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Not speaking for Yousif here, but I have to assume that with a name like Yousif Al-Saif he must be a Muslim, hence he hardly needs you or anyone else to remind him of that fact.

    So please move on. Leave threats behind you and use logical compelling arguments to prove your point. Resorting to threats and intimidation won’t get you anywhere.

  28. anonymous says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    I just dont know what to do!

    Fanatical liberals on forums like this, and religious bigots on other forums.

    What is a moderate muslim supposed to do?? One who realizes that humans are fallible, yet wants to protect the essence of islam from people like you who attack it.

    Im half british half bahraini law student, i’d rather abstain from voting in a political system where the vote is hardly worth the paper its made on. Anyway i dont think this is the appropriate place to get into this debate.

  29. anonymous says:

    Re: Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    I feel the same way about what is going on.
    This hard for me to believe that people are so close and have no understanding.
    I don’t think that anyone can judge the faith that anyone has in his heart.
    I feel hurt by things said previously, muslims people from all the world should be able to have a tolerant speeche.

  30. anonymous says:

    Re(1): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Whats the big fuss. Why are u so afraid of these MPs and the puppet-house parliament anyway? They have a big BARK but no teeth to BITE !! So what if they call the Minister for questioning do u think they have the power to do anything about it? The fact is the fuss is gonna die down soon and then it’ll be as if nothing has happened, just like what happened over the whole pension and naturalisation probes. Glossy reports and nice ‘examples’ of ‘democratic’ accountability -yeah right my ass. The corrupt just get away with it, the millions of dinars are acquiring the interest in Swiss bank accounts, and the bahraini ppl wont see a penny, and ur telling me to take into account the 200 ppl employed by MBC?? What about the 20,000 unemployed???

  31. anonymous says:

    Re: Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    انما الامم بالاخلاق ما بقيت…

    all the best. bahrainia

  32. anonymous says:

    A reply to the Islamists’ apologists and other useful idiots

    The reason the Islamic extremists get accused of terrorism is because when they don’t get their way through debate they resort to terror tactics – it makes no difference whether its Osama bin Laden or Adel Mouwadah.

    If you remember the Nancy Ajram debacle you’ll know what I mean. When MPs refused to be intimidated by the Islamists demands for the Ajram performance to be banned, they decided instead to teach everyone a lesson by sending their thugs out to disrupt the gig by beating up concert goers and terrorising local residents. Simple but effective.

    So please don’t give me any of the bullshit about these Islamists’ commitment to democratic principles – go tell that to the tourists (or idiot academics like Noah Feldman).

    And Bahrainia, luv, you can thank the ‘imposed’ constitution for your right to vote – before it was passed women like you weren’t given the franchise. I’m only guessing here so you’ll have to forgive me if I’m wrong, but I expect you were one of the Islamists’ useful idiots who boycotted the 2002 poll – in effect in protest at women being given the vote. People like you deserve to live under the Taliban.

  33. mahmood says:

    Re(1): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    The irony is Bahrainia, I never was before I witnessed first hand the effects of ignorance and escapism into what the Islamists want us to believe that only their version of Islam is the correct one. But even now I would rather regard myself as a moderate Muslim, neither a secularist nor an Islamist.

    But personal mantras and labels aside, what you say holds some truths (as always) yes forgive me for differing from you however, you seem to hold Muslim rule in a romantic light, rather than a hard practical one.

    To me yes Islam encompasses all aspects of life, but it is a contentious religion – like any other – with diametric interpretation regardless of which side of the fence you sit on. All you have to do is watch one of the “debate” on stations like Al-Mustaqbal, done in the guise of rapprochement, however the real effect of those debates is anything but.

    What is to be done? Theological autocracy or rampant secularism? I think our constitution at least in this regard is wise:

    Article 2:
    The religion of the State is Islam. The Islamic Shari’a is the principal source for legislation. The official language is Arabic.

    So Islam is the official religion and its Shari’a is the principal for its legislation, however it is not the only one. This is clear. There is an attempt and recognition to set legislation not only based on ancient Islamic interpretations, but the current age forces one to think extra-religiously in order to live in this world too. Thus a buffer is built for the currency of laws. Otherwise Islamic Shari’a law will be used and heads will roll, quite literally.

    The fear is if the Islamists are left to it, they will change this to be the only source for legislation, and welcome theocratic rule. They have declared so much on so many occasions from the Nancy Ajram debacle to Big Brother. “Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice” To them this is their God-given duty, after all isn’t it clearly mentioned in the Quran and the Teachings of the Prophet? They see absolutely nothing wrong with that and why should they, it is clear black and white. A non-issue.

    Are you willing to live under such laws and strictures? Are you willing that if (God forbid) that you are divorced that you have your children ripped from your arms and you live on a stipend of BD 20 a month if you are lucky? What happens to all the years you spent nurturing not only your children but your husband and getting the whole family to a state of prosperity? Would you just accept that your husband takes another wife through no fault of your own without getting your consent?

    I most certainly do not.

    Bahrainia, this is what I’m fighting for, not against Islam. I never will. What I ask people to understand is that Islam is one of the great religions on earth and it didn’t reach that position haphazardly. The doldrums experienced by us, its followers now is it’s thwarted and narrow application.

    [Modified by: Mahmood Al-Yousif (mahmood) on February 28, 2004 05:01 PM]

  34. anonymous says:

    Re(2): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia


    Yeah at last we agree!! Like you said islam can be contentious. I feel in a better democratic system, if we get the framework in which we get true people power, where politicians are accountable, there will be no space for baseless religious rhetorics. I have faith in our people, bahrainis are very well educated even the poor ones of them, and logic and intellectualism will prevail. Those with sound logic and political visions, be them clerics or non-clerics, will be voted for. For a fact, even the conservative sections of society do not want a Saudi or Iranian Islamic state. What they probably want is an Arab Republic of Bahrain 🙂 !!! heheheh dangerous territory.

    The King realises that in order to have economic prosperity you need a stable political environment. You have to understand that people want to sort out the political issues first before we start thinking of the economic issues. And indeed thats the basis for the Kings initiatives. And thats where we can put the pressure on. I agree that economic development and inward investment would benefit all, but the fact is we dont have a sound political framework, Bahrain is still autocratic in its structure, despite recent steps to calm things down which havent gone far enough.

    okz….off to the matam now 🙂 cya

  35. anonymous says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Actually in an islamic or muslim country, the rulers are obliged to protect non-muslims in order to live in harmony. That is what the Prophet (pbuh) did to Christians and Jews of Mecca and Medina. Totally agree with mahmood on this point. Muslims have to be tolerant of ppl with different beliefs AS LONG as they are not directly threatening the islamic principles. The issue is what is considered a ‘threat

  36. yousifnet says:

    Re(1): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Unfortunatly, you’re one of those who understand islam in a distorted way. Probably because of those who inject your brain with misleading and misrepresting interpretations of islam. Ofcourse we shouldn’t forget “what islam order us to do”. This is part of our commitment to Allah and to islam. But we shouldn’t also misinterpret islam. Allah didn’t order us to treat women like sheep, staying at home doing nothing but cooking and cleaning. If you want a cook and cleaner hire a cook and a cleaner! They should play an active role in society. They are humans just as you are and they have rights to work, believe, learn and think, just as you do and islam clearly recognised that. If you don’t this is your problem! That is basically what i meant.

    Americans affecting me brains! Thats rubbish. i ought to laugh at you really! You’re just using the same mentality of G.W.Bush. You’re either with us or against us. Just because i have a different view than yours i’m automatically considered a pro-american. Now who is brainwashed with the american way of thinking?!!

    Islam ruling must be obayed. No question in that but not the misinterpreted distorted version you have. Don’t you dare question my commitment to Allah and to Islam. I’m more muslim than you are. At least i understand it better.

    [Modified by: Yousif Al-Saif (yousifnet) on February 28, 2004 03:26 AM]

  37. anonymous says:

    Re(5): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    What do you mean you don’t agree with what I said…I didn’t make up these things…this is coming from the Quran….you disagree with the Quran??….If yes then I won’t bother writing here

  38. anonymous says:

    Re(2): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    OK…you’re saying Allah didn’t order us to let women stay at home, did he order us to let girls mix with boys and live in the same house while the girls are not covered up and the boys are chatting and laughing with them??…where is the Islamic tradition in this… I can not imagine anyone in Bahrain agreeing to this act.. it is very sad to be honest…the fact that anyone could agree to such manners

  39. yousifnet says:

    Re(6): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    I don’t think this is what Mahmood ment to say.

    Anyways, i just want to clarify something for you.
    [quote]The islamists know what is right and wrong more than any other person[/quote]
    Do they? Ofcourse some do but “others” might understand islam in a wrong way. I’m sure you have heard of Mullas and Immams issuing ridiculous Fatwas like “you can smoke in ramadan” or “muslim men can have sex with prostetutes”. My point is, don’t generalise that all islamists know better. They might not and that’s why Allah gave us brains, to think with and to differenciate the right from the wrong.

  40. yousifnet says:

    Re(3): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    it depends on how you define “Al khulwa”. I am not defending this program but although they are technically living under one roof, they’re surrounded by tens of cameras and watched 24/7. So therefore, they are not in “Khulwa” with each other. When a male and a female are alone with no third person inbetween that’s when they are in “Khulwa”. So basically we can rule out that they are in “Khulwa” and therefore rule out that they are doing a forbidden act under islam as long as they don’t do anything that goes against islamic rulings. In regrads to head cover, its their personal choice, they don’t believe its a must in islam. They have a different understanding of islam than you do. Although we might disagree with it, we shouldn’t force our own understanding on others, otherwise we would deprive them from their basic human rights just like Al-Wahabis and Taliban did. Do you want us to be another copy of taliban?

  41. anonymous says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Isn’t it ironic that political dialogue is taking place on this forum? Isn’t it ironic that BB is the instigator of this political dialogue?
    Isn’t it ironic that ‘some’ posters on this board choose to use freedom of speech to try and deny others the same choice to do so?
    Isn’t it ironic?

    ps Mahmood, I have popped in here often to find out what is happening behind the scenes in Bahrain, there is nowhere else to do so. I have never posted before but find this all so amusing but sad at the same time! As an athiest who respects others rights to there own minds and religious beliefs, I have a question that has been bugging me lately. In Islam, is there no room for peoples who choose not to fit in to the ‘norm?’ ie, if i was a ‘sinner’ am i not just pitied in the sense that God, not man will judge me? I am sorry if this is dreadfully ignorant. I once went to a mosque to find out more about Islam but it was futile, because when I asked the Imam any questions that he did’nt want to answer, (or could not), he said that no one can question God! I left with a conviction that this was ridiculously a cop out on his part.

    Well done on this forum, it is funny, scary and most of all VERY enlightening!

  42. mahmood says:

    Re: Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    It is indeed ironic, but this is how change happens. It was the same situation with Nancy Ajram and will continue to be for any other controvercial issue which will crop up in the future. This is how dialogue begins and we hope that through dialogue we will find a median.

    The worry is, where is the Constitutional Court from all of these issues? I haven’t heard any response from a Supreme Judge yet. Maybe they are waiting for a case to be lodged first before they form an opinion.

    From my humble understanding of Islam there are grey areas which are left for interpretation, this interpretation is done by “ulama” – the religious authorities – and this again is a contencious issue between the various sects of Islam.

    Allah is the ultimate judge. He said that if you can’t convince someone to come into Islam, then just say “you have your religion and I have mine” and leave it at that. He didn’t give instruction to wantonly kill all unbelievers. Who are we (mortals) to judge in His name? There are clear edicts which must be followed in order to be a Muslim, if you do not do these edicts, then you are outside of Islam. Here judgement can be passed on you based on Islamic norms. But again, the most important thing in Islam and that it for someone to declare than one or another is a ‘kafir’ or unbeliever is not meeted out by lay persons nor by a single religious person even if that person is a leading figure in Islam. It carries dire consequences hence it has been ruled that this particular declaration must come from the highest authoritative committee composed of several religious leaders.

    So in answer to your question, and again I emphasise that this is my own personal understanding and interpretation, yes, there are situations where a person is left to his own beliefs and that he’s got to sort it out with Allah on judgement day.

  43. mahmood says:

    Re(6): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Your conviction of Islam is admirable. But allow me to explain my position: I totally agree with the Quran. My disagreement is in its interpretation. My understanding of Islam and the Holy Quran is that first and foremost that Islam is a forgiving religion and it says that only Allah knows what goes on in people’s hearts and mind. There you have give people the benefit of the doubt, not arbitrarily think of accuse someone as having an impure thought nor that he is going to commit an impure act.

  44. anonymous says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Thank you for answering this question, which I understand is to the best of your knowledge. It is as I suspected. I just cannot for the life of me understand why on earth people cannot just live and let live. We all have our own beliefs and should never enforce them on others. We choose our own paths and accept that others have the right to do so. We do not have to agree with how others choose to live, they walk in their own shoes. If we are religious then we can perhaps believe that we will be judged on our actions one day, it is none of our business to try and interfere with others lives. You can NEVER enforce a religion, culture or political system on people, they need to evolve their own societies.

    In my humble opinion, people who do try to enforce their views and ways of life on others are trying to compensate for inadequacies of their own, ‘if you can’t join them, beat them!’

    BB is a programme, not one I am particularly drawn to, it’s dumbed down television BUT that is MY opinion for MY own reasons, I walk in my shoes! So if someone else likes, great, I do not know why they would but really, i don’t care.

    I wonder if it is at all possible that ‘the powers that be’ knew this would happen when it was hosted here in Bahrain? It has turned into quite a little strabash which has prompted dialogue, even the ‘usual suspects’ have toned down the rhetoric this time and are trying to shift the focus away from BB alone and look at wider issues, such as prostitution ect.

    I think in the long run BB will have been good for something, it brought dialogue and discussion, hard enough to come by in public. Good practice for people to get used to having 2 way opinions and understanding, humans don’t all think alike. After this, maybe we can move on to more pertinent and important issues?

  45. anonymous says:

    Re(4): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Ok know what, I’m not going to argue with you, but theres no harm in giving advices. Everyone will get what he deserves in judgement day, whether good or bad. The group of people everyone calls “islamists”, I call them muslims. All that the so called “islamists” are trying to do is protect our societies from such indescent exposure and dirty acts. That’s all, so there is no reason to be against them.

  46. mahmood says:

    Re(5): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia defines “Islamist” as:

    An Islamic revivalist movement, often characterized by moral conservatism, literalism, and the attempt to implement Islamic values in all spheres of life.

    While I truely value your efforts at giving advice, and thank you for them, this does show that you too care about this society of ours.

    My contention to the “islamists” in parliament is that the parliament is not the best place to “protect our societies from such indescent exposure and dirty acts”. The proper place for this is the home and places of worship.

    The parliament as a whole should concentrate on protecting an individual’s and society’s inalianable rights, to encourage inward investment in the country, find solutions to unemployment, ensure that the public moneys are not wasted, fight all forms of corruption and hold the executive branch to book.

    Concerning itself with the morals of society is not and should never be their main mandate. That must be left to the home and places of worship to shape the morals of people.

  47. anonymous says:

    Re: Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Mahmood, you’re clearly a proponent of a secular political system, separating religion from politics. Unfortunately, you cannot do that in a muslim-dominated country. Moreover, islam is a religion that spans the individual, the household and the state, so you cannot just dismiss islam and all that it stands for from the public sphere. If a country is over 80% muslim, imposing a secularist system will simply mean that the needs and demands of these ppl will not be catered for since Islam is the basic framework in which they guide their lives. Im not saying that we should have a theocracy here in which everyone speaks in the name of islam and clerics somehow give themselves ‘divine legitimacy’ that whatever they say is laid down on a holy grail. What we need is a form of democracy in which the needs of muslims are met, minority rights (ie those of other religions), human rights, freedom of speech, accountability, justice are all upheld. You keep saying that these politicians should stay out of moral issues and stuff, but sometimes micro issues can lead to macro social problems. You also keep saying that these micro issues should be dealt with in the home by the parents. Well what if parents fail in their role to do so? What if some parents arent that good at putting in filters on their TVs and computers? Just like the case that happened in the UK, after two girls were murdered by someone they met on the internet, which has led the government to look at new internet laws and giving the police powers to crackdown on internet abusers. So we cannot rely on parents to protect their children in an era of such dynamic technological changes. So the government has to have laws, and educational programs that increase awareness of religious values and the dangers of the outside world. Which means this is a political issue with a religious agenda.

    As for the interpretation of islam. We can all pick up the Quran and interpret it whatever way our restricted intellects wants us to. There is nothing wrong with that. But if you want the CORRECT interpretation of the quran (and there isn’t just one correct one, maybe two or three ways in some verses), then I suggest you leave it to the scholars, who have gone to special schools to learn advanced techniques in linguistics, grammer, historical contexts, 9arf, bala’3a (sorry i dunno how to interpret these) . There are over 20 subjects that need to be mastered in order to be able to comprehensively understand the Quran. It is a very academic area and there are many universities in the West that specialise in this as well as religious schools in the muslim world. All im saying is leave this up to the experts, but weigh up the different scholarly opinions. Its like when you have an illness diagnosed by a doctor, you go and get a second or even a third opinion, but these doctors were the ones qualified to diagnose you in the first place.

    Ignorent interpretations of our beautiful religion only lead to weaken it, and this is what i see is happening on both the fanatical liberal end and the religious extremists end. Our religion is one of science and logic, which is the path a moderate muslim should take.


  48. anonymous says:

    Re(2): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    “They have big BARK but no to teeth to BITE”. Say that to yourself because their mission is accomplished. The meaningless tv show is stopped. Right wins and wrong loses.

  49. mahmood says:

    Re(3): Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    No right didn’t win, 85 Bahraini employees and their families lost, 53 million dollars lost, and we can kiss ANY further investment in media in Bahrain good-bye.

    It is very ironic however that when the (hated) Prime Minister is working overtime jetting all over the place to invite investment into the country, while the Islamists – the ELECTED islamists mind you – are chasing it away.

    Here the government is trying to increase the levels of middle-class, while the islamists are trying extra hard at increasing poverty.


    Time to dissolve the parliament and rule as before. We were much better off before than what the future promises.

  50. anonymous says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Dear bahrainia,

    Islam is not threatened by BB. However, our big brothers in parliament are threatened by the thought that they might erode their own power base if they dont take up this issue.

    When God created man and woman, you will notice that HE did not segregate the world into a ‘male only’ segment and a ‘female only’ segment.

    As a Bahraini woman, I dont want parliament guys telling me what I can and cannot watch on TV. Nor do I want them to tell me what I can and cannot wear. Nor do I want them telling me what I can and cannot think. Whatever happened to freedom of choice?

    And. if they are so bullish on upholding Islamic values, why don’t they take a position on the pedophilia case that happened in Sitra last week – or let them talk about incest and drug abuse in Bahrain. Or how about the guy in that mosque who was raping little lkids. There are some real bona fide legit domestic problems that we don’t talk about .. why pick on Big Brother that was feeding and clothing quite a few Bahraini’s on the back of it?

    They had better choose their battles wisely. One of the biggest differnces between Islam and the other religions is that we dont have a mediator between man and God. We don’t have a Pope. We don’t need parliament filling in that role. If they are really concerned about upholding family values, then why don’t they push for a Personal Effects Law that governs divorce, inheritance and marriage instead of being at the mercy of different judges in different courts? Why dont they work on ‘ijtihad’ and bringing Moslem women into 21st century instead of being forced to stay behind because of some guy’s interpretation of the Quran and Islam? Why is it that the women have to cover up in order not to incite sinful thoughts in men while the men are allowed to marry 4 wives? How come our beloved Islamists have found a way to allow for ‘Zawaj mutaa’ and ‘Zawaj misyar

  51. mahmood says:

    Re: Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    thanks Amal… much as I hate to repeat myself, it will only get worse if we give in to their archaic way of thinking.

  52. anonymous says:

    Field visit to Big Brother Arabia

    Salams Mahmood!

    It amazes me that these so-called Islamists are so hell bent on banning tv shows they deem ‘unislamic’ whilst ignoring issues such as exploitation, discrimination that seem to be rampant in Bahrain today. Where is their sense of priority??? Banning or ‘Islamicising’ certain tv programmes WILL NOT make Bahrain a better country morally, ethically or Islamically.


    p.s Love your Blog!!!

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