Societal limits

27 Feb, '04

Commenting on my article Field visit to Big Brother Arabia bahrainia wrote:

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.

BhraNia

I felt compelled to split this topic from the original due to the various valid points raised. Here is my personal opinion on the matter:

It would indeed be interesting to find our what your Kuwaiti friend has to say about this subject, her opinion will be valuable as she arguably has researched the subject much more than I or the majority of people, that being her thesis. Good luck to her with that.

I have commented before that the limits of democracy and personal freedoms is a fine line which is defined essentially as “your freedom ends where someone else’s freedom begins”. The same is true of how to define the limits of freedoms of expression, be that in art, television, film, the written and spoken word or however a person in concurrence of current laws interprets his/her personal space for self expression.

Therefore the line in essence is hazy and not a single person can tell you where it lies, as everyone will bring their own personal prejudices and “historical baggage” to bear on defining where that line is or should be.

Let’s take some accepted art in international circles, does one regard the photography of Bill Brandt for instance of the female body as pornographic? There is no doubt that some people will take offense to his work as they will with a multitude of others’. Like Bill Brandt, they have every right to voice their opinions, but they surely shouldn’t have the right to tear down his photographs and destroy them.

Some people might regard pornography and pedophilia as another form of art and self expression which should be respected. This is a very difficult question and I cannot but apply my own prejudices to it: to me, I am personally against gratuitous pornography and will actively sensor its images when and if my own children are exposed to it through no fault of their own. It is also my responsibility as a parent to tell my children why I choose to censor that particular content. But this is me, a parent exercising our prerogative and imbuing our children with what we think is right and wrong simply to help them evaluate their own future choices in life.

I am however opposed to state/religious censorship in all its forms. I am strong advocate of freedoms of expression, and a strong believer that it is the responsibility of parents to educate their children of their interpretation of social norms.

Taking my views into consideration let me tell you this: We have several pornographic channels being broadcast on free-to-air and pay-per-view channels on satellite receivable in Bahrain, and obviously the rest of the Middle East. I do not have any free-to-air receiver myself, but have seen such channels at other locations. What I have is much more “destructive” and that is an always-on internet connection.

I have installed a network at home connected to a computer in every child’s room. I have a server through which everyone at home accesses the internet. There is no “filter” on the server to disable any particular site nor content. We (my wife and I) have however explained our expectations to our children and encouraged them to not go to such sites. We also told them that due to browser hijacking, viruses, worms etc they might be “pulled” to an innocent sounding site but its content we might find objectionable. If that happens they are encouraged to come and tell us about the experience and I will fix their computer by removing the virus or correct the browser hi-jacking. I have of course installed a virus checker on each and every computer. But I cannot blame them if they have been tricked into getting to a site they have no control over.

On installing the network at home, we made up a contract between us the parents and the child (we have 3) and each had to sign this contract and stick it up on their wall next to their screen. In it we detailed when they can use the internet (duration, after finishing all school homework, cleaning their rooms, etc.) and what to do if they find objectionable content, making especially sure that they understand that we will not punish them if they do inform us promptly. This worked very well. It’s been three or four years now. True to their word, they did inform us when they encountered problems with their browser, or they have clicked an innocent looking link in a spam email they have received etc. We know that we can trust them now because of this experiment.

The constitution

I agree that the 2002 Constitution was a surprise, and I applaud the various political activists and some members of parliament’s efforts at redressing the balance lost by the birth of this document. There is outright rejection and on the other hand full acceptance. Such is the polarisation of our society in this issue.

My personal view is this: the ballot was cast and parliamentarians elected based on the 2002 constitution. For although the Charter for National Action is a legal document, it is not the constitution, it was a referendum on “fundamental law and visions” and as it has been approved by 98.4% of the populace. If 55% (I forget the actual figure of people voted) then cast their ballots and choose their representatives regardless of any other issue at hand, then the majority of the country have chosen this new constitution as a binding document between the government and its citizens.

Yes the demarcation of electoral districts was obviously wrong and imbalanced. Yes perceivably wrongly and politically motivated naturalised citizens did vote. But as the vote was cast, the outcome must be respected.

If fault is to be borne by anyone then surely it must be the opposition! It was their responsibility to ensure that the people knew their point of view and explain why they are boycotting the elections. It was their responsibility in which they abjectly failed in transmitting the message to the populace that what they are voting for is an aborted democracy with a changed, non-binding and one-sided contract. But because of their divided nature and their inability to coordinate their efforts, they have lost the battle.

Now we have an elected parliament, we have an accepted constitution by the majority of the public, and we have a framework to change that constitution. We have to use the methods allowed under the constitution to change it. We have to depend on our chosen representatives to change it and ensure that it gets event better than the constitution of 1973. And the “outsiders”, ie the societies who boycotted the elections must review their position in society and create a clear vision and collective strategy to induce this change, not by violence and rhetoric, but by clear steps to be adopted such as working hand-in-hand with the chosen representatives of the people.

So why did 55% of the population vote? In my view it is because they saw these societies as serving a certain sect, religion, or ethnic belonging, rather than the whole of Bahrain.

Why should someone from Riffa care or give a whit what Al-Wifaq does or says? Al-Wifaq markets itself ONLY for shi’as! What political party in the world is allowed to even exist if its (hidden) declaration is to a certain ethnic and religious sect or sub-sect? Does that mean that a Sunni from Muharraq will not be able to join the ranks of Al-Wifaq? How about a Shi’a from Duraz attempting to join Al-Asala?

These “societies” should not be allowed to exist legally. What they do is divide the society and propagate the segregationist policies of failed ideology (no, I’m not talking about Islam here).

A political party should not be allowed to restrict its membership to a religion, sect or thought. They should be allowed only to convene with the ultimate and only view to strengthen national unity and work towards a goal of the betterment of the country as a whole, not a sub-sect of society. The political party must be open to all sects, religions, and ethnic background to gain legitimacy with its own people.

Hence, political parties by definition MUST be irreligious, but have an active and well thought of agenda to raise the standard of living of the whole country, not just a collection of cities, towns or villages. It should concern itself with guarding and guaranteeing freedoms of expression, creativity and invention. It must actively seek out laws which prevent incoming investment opportunities and negate them. It must protect the dignity of the human being. Not be exclusive to a certain group.

This is the failing of all political societies in Bahrain. I just hope – as I am sure you do to – that they will realise this failing and put in mechanism to correct the situation. Before all is lost.

What happens in the absence of all of this infrastructure and ideology is riots, terrorism and corruption. Adel Al-Moawdah is absolutely responsible for the riots and the untold damage done to local business opportunities.

His declaration that he will forever “fight vice and promote virtue every time an event like this happens” referring to whenever a singer is invited to the island to perform, should have automatically disqualified him from parliament as these comments absolutely were the ignition point of the riots.

It is ironic that he instigated this event, but the executors where his diametric opposites: it was Shi’as who demonstrated and destroyed, while he is an abject Wahabi Salafi who traditionally are completely opposed to Shi’as and their ideas.

So parliamentarians’ comments carry much farther than their immediate circle, other people with their own agendas will use them to their own effects. This of course demonstrates the naivety of not only Adel Al-Moawdah and his ilk, but the whole parliamentary exercise in Bahrain.

But then, haven’t we had 30 years’ experience in parliamentary life? No, what we had is 2 years of parliamentary life 30 years ago, long forgotten and its proponents largely dead. The only survivor of that era is Al-Dhahrani, the chairman of the Council of Representatives. And he amply demonstrated his unsuitability when he urged and begged the parliament to “let him fix the problem of GOSI and the Pension fund directly with the government!” This is the chairman of the parliament urging this infant democracy to go the route of nepotism and personal relationships rather than work within the framework of the constitution!

So if a representative of the “golden era” of Bahraini parliamentary life is so at odds with the concept of democracy and institutions, the very one who was elected to this exalted position by his colleagues largely due to his “experience” and “sagacity” due to his involvement with the 1975 dissolved parliament, why should we even care for a dated document like the 1973 constitution?

The method is certainly wrong, but the concept is correct. I’ve read somewhere that a medieval king would give his right arm to have the wide ranging powers that our King has given himself! And that is true when you look closely at the 2002 constitution. The fact remains however that the constitution is not a Heavenly inviolate text, hence it is our collective responsibility to work within the current framework to achieve a proper end-result, and that is to change the constitution to be a current, encompassing, and empowering essence to the Bahraini citizen.

Having Islamists in parliament gravely concerned with the morals of society, a television show, and a concert will not lead us unto a path of human dignity and creativity, just to abject poverty and ruin.

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Comments (54)

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  1. anonymous says:

    Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    [url]http://www.meib.org/articles/0209_me1.htm[/url]

    “The 2001 referendum dramatically eased tensions and dissatisfaction among Bahrainis and the public mood was clearly been buoyed by improvement in the human rights situation and the promises of further reform. Some of this initial euphoria dissipated after the cabinet reshuffle, however, as it became clear that the [b]reform process itself lacked transparency.[/b]

    Most of the bona fide reform measures that have been implemented so far [b]are not democratic advances, per se, but human rights advances[/b]. The general amnesty for political prisoners and exiles, the reinstatement of dissidents fired from public sector jobs, the lifting of travel bans on political activists, and the abrogation of state security laws have all created more opportunities for political expression. However, the bodies set up to suppress the opposition in the mid-1990s (the Special Investigation Service, the Criminal Investigation Directorate, and the Public Security Force) remain [b]intact [/b]and under the control of the emir’s uncle and prime minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, an anti-reform hard-liner.

    A second important limitation to the reforms is that they have been granted in a patrimonial fashion. Bahrain’s reform process commenced as a unilateral royal initiative and continues to be portrayed as a [b]grand gesture from the king [/b]to his people. Most of what passes for economic reforms (e.g., the reduction in university fees, a modest assistance program to aid the unemployed, exemptions in housing loan installments, and an extra month’s pay for state employees) were announced personally by the King, as if they were [b]”handouts”[/b] for which his subjects should be grateful, and promulgated without regard to their inflationary effects or the strain they may place on the public purse.

    Similarly, political liberalization measures have been bestowed upon the population by royal decree and Hamad remains reluctant to consult with any political groups outside of government on the reform process. Only he has the power to chart its future, its parameters, its intensity and its extent. He also has the power to determine what social groups and what opposition networks are to be included in or excluded from the reform process.

    [b]The formal establishment of the monarchy and the undemocratic amendments to the constitution reinforced the belief that the political reform process in Bahrain was to benefit the Khalifas, rather than the people. That the first two articles of the February 2002 decree changed the name of Bahrain into the “Kingdom of Bahrain” and the title of Emir into King (with elections being mentioned third) hints at the priorities of the reform process and its creator. In retrospect, the reforms can be viewed as ad hoc measures responding to a crisis of legitimacy stemming from chronic fiscal difficulties, international democratization and domestic pressures.[/b]”

  2. mahmood says:

    Re: Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    … and the practical solution out of this quandary is what? civil war, disobedience, intifadha, terror, downing tools, assassinations?

    We *know* the shortcomings of this situation. We know the perpetrators. But the only way *must* be through the use of peaceful means with popular consensus. The only way then has to be through dialogue and parliamentary mechanisms.

  3. anonymous says:

    Societal limits

    You think that gets u anywhere with this government?

    Look violence isnt a solution. You need a strategy. Who do u think is instigating the sectarianism? Why do u always critisize the opposition, when everyone knows its the Al-Khalifa administration that has perpetuated all of the political problems since the 50s. History keeps repeating itself. In the 90s despite such oppression, 40 people were killed in demonstrations or tortured in prisons, for what? for this sham of a democracy? I know, ure gonna say but they were asking for it, blowing up gas cylinders blah blah, we’ve heard it and thats just the government line. The opposition got international support for its civilised call to reinstitute the constitution and end state-security law. And like Professor Fred Halliday said, all these so-called ‘reforms, are a result from the pressure from below (ie the people) rather from above (ie the King). The rulers always like the status quo unless they are pressured to make changes, much as he’d like us to thank him for his makramaat and bow to him for his great genorosity for giving us what was supposed to be our rights in the first place! What audacity, and the sad thing, people still say, no this guy wants true reform and is genuine.

    Ok that era is over. We are now in a new more peaceful context, the opposition was slow to adopt and reshape its approach, and they werent helped at all in 2001-2002 when no one could predict what this King had in his head- after all we all thought or at least hoped he was a man of his word, much to our dismay.

    I kind of liked the idea of a ‘constitutional conference’ with invited participants and foreign guests. You know, with working papers and seminars and a glossy brochure, held in a respectable venue (diplomat hotel). That does sound civilised doesnt it, even I was shocked that a bunch of villagers can do this!! Then again, it was Jalela alsayed who organised the whole thing (an ex-govt crony who now speaks the truth, my hat off for her)- never forgetting she was the first one to try trumpeting support for the methaq. But truth where truth be told.

    Anyways, nicely organised conference to discuss the core issue of the unconstitutional constitution. Whats wrong with that? And address the strategies on how to deal with this. Hmmm so far so good.

    What happens next? Bam… the government does almost everything in its power to hinder and stop the conference using such cheap and childish strategies such as threatening the conference venue managers, to banning the entry of foreign participants!! who’se the uncivilised one now?? Whose the one who wants freedom of speech?
    Thank god this whole thing backlashed against the governement. I cant suppress my joy as I saw things unfolding.

    bahrainia

  4. anonymous says:

    Societal limits

    Mahmood, its easy to say with hindsight that the opposition shouldnt have been taken in with the blind-sighted promises. But in real time, as u probably knew, a few months before 14th February 2001, the pure exhiliration that overcame the Bahraini nation was undescribable. The Bahraini ppl’s hopes and dreams seemed to be finally fulfilled after a long period of struggle, torture and sacrifice. That phase was probably one of the happiest in the history of Bahrain, King Hamad was greeted in the villages which he’d probably never even set foot on with flowers and kisses by the masses. They were willing to do anything for this King, I mean he released all the political prisoners and returned all the exiles and promised a democracy. This wasnt just a momentous occasion for Bahrainis but for the whole Middle-East!! When the opposition at the time tried to say ‘hold on guys’ we gotta take control of our emotions here and see what we’re letting ourselves in for, everyone attacked them saying the opposition is too skeptical!!! Thankfully, a few figures who could see through the facade managed to pressure the King into giving a few ‘promises’ with a signed document in one of the old clerics house in Nuaim (cant remember his name) and some press statements in all the newspapers, saying that the appointed chamber is one for consultation only and NO legislative power and that the 1973 constitution wiill be promulgated. Much use that did, the guy was lying through his teeth.

    I’ll tell you what the main issue is in order of importance:
    1. The constitution
    2. Political naturalisation- a policy deemed to change the demography of the country.
    3. Ending of law 56- to get some justice from the murderers.

    To me these are the three major issues, anything else is unimportant. The parliament is not an issue, lets be honest, its a shambles and has no weight, its just a joke, and to have been part is to give it legitimacy which it doesnt, so please dont keep referring to it as ‘the channel’ we have to go through. In this country the only ‘channel’ we can go through is the King, since the King has veto power and apponts Shura council which has 50% power, oh yes and the chairman of the two chambers which gives him slightly more than 50% (someone can do the maths), and you need a two thirds majority to carry out any constitutional changes. So think about it, it means that ultimately its the Kings decision, as he has over 50% legislative power and he can veto out the elected assembly. Which means, why have the headache of going through the parliament anyway, which moves at a snails pace, since the King can do things more directly. So it doesnt take a genius to figure out that on the core issues stated above, direct action is better. Thats my logic anyway.

    For the person who was asking about the quality of the Members of Parliament, no one with a credible and strong background even contemplated nominating himself to stand. It would have just meant his credibility is down the drain. Most academics, intellectuals, and charismatic figures are part of the opposition, although with islamic inclinations, they are very moderate and open ppl. One of them is Abdulhadi Khalaf who was an elected member of the Bahraini parliament in 1973-74, and is now a Sociology lecturer in Sweden. I recommend you read his articles.

  5. anonymous says:

    Daniel Pipes’ publication doesn’t approve of Bahrain’s reforms?

    The above excert, Political Reform in Bahrain: the Price of Stability, is from an article in the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, a publication of Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum which also publishes Campus Watch, a website which encourages students to report on American academics who are not sufficiently pro-Israel. Its website can be found at http://www.campus-watch.org

    Daniel Pipes is one of the most vocal right wing Israeli cheerleaders in American academia, defending Israel with the mantra that its the “only democracy in the Middle East”. Any Arab initiative to reform, promote human rights or democratise is rubbished by him and his followers. Instead he aims to portray the Arabs as uniformly irrational Islamists who the US shouldn’t listen to; much better he says for America’s leaders to consult to him and his mentor, Harvard’s Bernard Lewis. In their attempt to show the Arab world as irredeemable, Bahrain’s reforms are very inconvenient, and so its no surprise they reprint the Al-Wefaq line.

    For more details about the Middle East Forum and Campus Watch see Counterpuch – http://www.counterpunch.org/youmans0922.html

  6. mahmood says:

    Re: Societal limits

    What I’m proposing IS a strategy to get our of this situation Bahrainia and that is to work through the proper channles to get changes done. In 2006 we will have our second (ever) elections for parliament, if the opposition groups once again boycot that election thinking that they can force the government to change, that’s a pipe dream and they will prove once again that they are unrealistic and impractical.

    We need them to participate in order to get the “real men” in parliament so that they can make a real difference, not the bunch that we have now. Their boycot has allowed mostly the second- or third-tier people to get in, and who do you blame for that? The government? No, I blame the opposition for restricting our choice.

    You speak of the attrocities that the royal family here has perpetrated and maintained. Fine. Let’s remember them but get over them. Nothing is going to bring the martyrs back, but we can respect their sacrifice by working together to effect a change. Peacefully.

    Yes we have elements in government who will only leave their seats when they’re in a box. Yes we have the “old guard” protecting their own interests, yes they have support within the establishment, but boycotting elections only sustains them. “Look we gave them the opportunity and they didn’t take it.”

    The machinations of the government regarding the constitutional seminar were underhanded. But you have to agree that the Bahraini constitution is the prime concern of Bahrainis, why invite controvercial figures into it? Why weren’t the chosen representatives of the people invited to participate? Isn’t that sidelining and ignoring the “will of the people?” After all, they were the ones who were chosen and the prime instrument for change.

    Yes changing the current constitution is going to be difficult, given that the powers to change it are primarily embodied in the King, but there is some leeway to effect change within the parliament.

    I agree with you that no monarch is going to willingly restrict his own powers, that has to be perculated from the grass-root levels and that is what has been done to get to where we are. The issue is that the opposition did not capitalise on this movement, but were blind-sided by promises they should have known better than to accept. And ignorance is no defence under law. Just by this action they demonstrated their unsuitability to the task.

    What do you really expect from the opposition which entrenches segregation? They are a disperate bunch whose main concern is appealing to the man on the street. I certainly expect a lot better from them.

    None have come out with plans and agendas which we can respond to as voters, the mantra has been “naturalisation, security law, unemployment” and various other mostly secondary issues. They have highlighted the problems every single Bahraini is aware of but have not come up with action plans to attack these shortcomings.

    I agree with you that things should happen through laws and rights, rather than “makramat”. Makramat – the Kings gifts – should be the extreme exception to the rule rather than the rule itself.

  7. anonymous says:

    Re(1): Societal limits

    Mahmood, in your previous post you mention that the opposition groups that did not take part in the elections deprived us of better quality candidates. Is there a general consensus as to whether these groups would increase the number of Islamist candidates as opposed to liberals?

  8. mahmood says:

    Re(2): Societal limits

    There is a general concensus that their boycot resulted in “lesser people” getting into the parliament. Like Al-Saidi for instance and Abdulla Al-A’ali as well as others.

    As to whether more liberals would have gotten into parliament had they not boycotted, I don’t know, I suspect that more Shi’a Islamists would have entered parliament, but two of the boycotting societies were liberals and some of their members might have had a chance to get into parliament.

  9. anonymous says:

    Societal limits

    What an excellent dialogue you have going here, Mahmood. A good example of the benefits of participation. Opposition boycotts tend to be couner-productive (or at least, non-productive), as do political parties that exclude people on the basis of religion, race, creed, color, etc. But unilateral action is sometimes the only way to get your voice heard, especially in political systems that are proving resistant to change.

    Peaceful demonstration (which often requires more courage than more violent forms of protest do) has usually been what’s done the trick in America, from women’s suffrage to civil rights to the Vietnam war. In none of these cases did it provide us with perfects solutions, but it did bring about far more change than might otherwise have occurred.

    Mark Wallace

  10. mahmood says:

    Re: Societal limits

    thank you Mark, this discussion is simply exhilirating!

  11. anonymous says:

    Societal limits

    Hello Mahmood,

    I note your stress on the need for concensus politics, and I think you are also saying that no party is truly fit for government unless the participants recognise that their service is ultimately owed as much to those who did not vote for them, as to those who did. I regard this as a significant factor in a true democracy. And it goes well beyond the issue of islamism or secularism, in politics. It extends into the world of the capitalists, trade unionists, environmentalists, libertarians, feminists, conservatives, and monarchists. In it’s simplest form, I reckon this concept rests on just knowing where to draw the line at self interest alone, and strike out for the best outcome for society at large.

    Best Regards.
    Meggie

  12. anonymous says:

    Societal limits

    Democracy is defined on dictionary.com as:

    – Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.
    – A political or social unit that has such a government.
    – The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.
    – Majority rule.
    – The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.

    Ooops, Bahrain fails on every count. This parliament is just a puppet designed to create a pretence of a parliament and a nice and fluffy living fantasy of democracy. Kidding ppl to think that if you put that piece of paper in the ballot box you have achieved the freedom and justice you saught, and the sovereignty of your political and economic destiny.

    98% voted for the National charter, and 52% for the parliamentary elections. An estimated 5-10% of those were blank votes, and i’d say the majority of the remainig voters went to vote in fear of the repurcussions of being labelled as a ‘boycotter’ by the insane policy of having your passport STAMPED when you vote. On top of that the government refused to let in an independent international committee to oversee the elections. And dont say this is just the conspiracy theory the opposition would like to believe. The fact is this whole thing is a FABRICATION. Thats how strongly, I and a large majority feel about all this. And I cant stop hearing ppl complain and moan about this the minute I land on Bahraini soil. There is just a strong air of distrust between the government and the ppl, due to lies and corruption.

    bahrainia

  13. mahmood says:

    Re: Societal limits

    I share your view and concern for the issues which must be resolved for us to go forward. Like you I don’t invisage things changing immediately, democracy is a living being which must be nurtured and it takes a long time – sometimes centuries – to get to a point where one can comfortably have the opinioin that yes indeed we do have democracy in our country.

    Like you I would like to see less power given to the monarch, more respect for citizens’ rights rather than royal gifts, and the prosecution for human rights violators regardless whether their committing crimes before or after amnesty – in fact chase them for as long as they live.

    However I disagree with you on a practical sense, these changes and goals must be done through parliament, regardless of how you view this parliament’s shortcomings, it remains the legitimate organ of the public as it is elected directly by the people.

    Hold on. I know that you’re going to say that they are useless – yes I agree, I know that you’ll say they cannot pass a resolution without the appointed council’s agreement, I know. But the principal *is* democratic and it is through our support to this immerging democracy that it will flourish and through our insistance for results that we will get better qualified and quality people representing us.

    If we just “wait” for the king to change the constitution to suite our vision of how the constitution should be, even better than 1973, that will not happen overnight. People (currently) with and against the parliament should work together to achieve this goal. And that goal will even be much more achievable if the whole community voted rather than resort to boycots. That has the possibility of aborting this democracy before it is born.

    [Modified by: Mahmood Al-Yousif (mahmood) on February 29, 2004 10:05 AM]

  14. mahmood says:

    Re: Societal limits

    You have compelling arguments Bahrainia. There is not doubt in my mind that you love this country; your passion shows it.

    Like you, I love this country too, and we both agree that we want the best for these islands and their people. I understant that I cannot change nor soften your convictions, which is good!

    However we have to agree to disagree with you on these issues here.

    There are two ways of looking and analysing our views, one of which is that you look at the “empty” side of the glass, while I look at the “full” side and say hey, this is good, we have a foundation to build on!

    There is absolustely nothing wrong with your view, and I maintain that there’s nothing wrong with mine either. I’m not being naive nor blind to the shortcomings of Bahrain as a whole or its political system or its politics, I firmly believe that something is much better than nothing, moreover, I don’t believe that we have “nothing”, far from it, we have quite a lot actually and I am greatful for that.

    What we have is a foundation of a workable political system and serious debate among the intelligencia to allow this “experiment” to grow and take root.

    I believe that this will take years if not decades to come to fruition. I’m patient on this issue and will help in any way I can to progress it farther and faster.

  15. anonymous says:

    Societal limits

    just out of curiosity mahmood… have u ever considered runnig for political office?

  16. anonymous says:

    On the outside pissing in

    What’s the big problem with two chamber parliaments? Bicameral parliaments are the norm internationally, with among the major democracies only Sweden, Portugal and Denmark not opting for this method. An appointed upper chamber isn’t unusual either – such established democracies as Britain and Canada both have appointed (or until recently in the former at least partially hereditary) upper houses. Is Canada any less democratic than the US?

    The advantage of an appointed upper chamber is that it allows for expert opinion and minority voices to be taken in to account in the legislative process – this is a very important principle. In Bahrain when you’ve got two sets of radical Islamists – Al-Wefaq and Esalah – as opposed to each other as they are to most developments over the last 1400 years, its crucial that there’s a political system which allows for a second opinion.

    But whatever the government does I don’t think Wefaq want to play ball. They’re aware that the experience of Islamists in parliamentary systems isn’t a happy one: it usually exposes the fault that runs through most Islamist parties, between a pious conservative middle class and an uneducated radical proletariat. And anyway the sort of society they want couldn’t come about through democratic change. They’re much happier on the outside fostering the politics of resentment.

  17. mahmood says:

    Re: Societal limits

    not really. I don’t think I have the patience to be in parliament. If I do, I think I will probably throttle a few people in there or alternatively go in with a pair of very sharp sheep shears!

  18. anonymous says:

    Re(1): Societal limits

    Now THAT, my friend is my idea of REALITY TV. I’d pay good money to see that 🙂

    BE

  19. anonymous says:

    Re(1): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    Your view must be widely diregarded by the loyal people of Bahrain. I think the changes and the democracy installed by HM is a change in the right track. My father is a lower class citzen of Bahrain working in the fishing industry and believe me the changes in our life were tremendous. Without the grants from the king and the Royal Family I and thousands of others would not have a chance to to attend college and focus on our education. Trust me sir there are thousands of citzens that pray for His Majesty and the people around him. The people of Bahrain would not of enjoyed those benefits if not for Hamad Bin Isa and the royal family. You know my father tells me that they and the loyal people of Bahrain are to thank for the independence and the economic prosperity we enjoy in our beloved nation. Hail Bahrain and it’s Courageous KING!!

  20. anonymous says:

    Re(1): Societal limits

    Maybe you think that the strategies of the gov’t aren’t working. I’m a student in the USA and not at all a “raging royalist”. During the preparations for the unjust war on Iraq a band of singers or performers called the “DIXIE CHICKS” insalted the gov’t on foriegn soil. You know what happened? I geuss not. Anyways let me tell you, these people were boycotted and hammered by the US media for saying these comments on a foriegn soil to foriegn media!!! Now say hmmm! This happened in the mother of all democracies across the world. Furthermore when presidential candidate Wesley Clark was on a visit to some European country he refused to answer a question from a French or belgian journalist (which one can’t recall) because if he answered he would of attacked the president. Those people don’t like expatriates getting involved in there domestic affairs. So this so called conference was made to inflame the people. THOSE ARE UNCIVLISED PEOPLE WITH A HIDDEN AGENDA.

  21. anonymous says:

    Re(4): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    Great words .. except – There aint ever no free lunch. If you say that every Bahraini is entitled to a gift of education and entitled to an increase in the standard of living – the question then becomes .. who pays?

    The issue is that Bahrain, (and the rest of the GCC) for that matter, are welfare states. We expect free health care, free educaiton, subsidized water and electricity rates, and blah blah blah. However, we dont want to pay any taxes. And we dont want to allow businesses to operate efficiently by allowing them to fire non productive Bahrainis. We jump up and down saying that the Government owes us everthing, and then some. (Look at latest fuss with the firings at Seef). The real issue is that the Government is spending quite a significant sum of money maintaining the standard of living .. and it cant go on forever.

    And these issues are by no means Bahraini. The US has huge issues with health care and the quality of eduction in public schools. When Thatcher in Britain tried to open up the country and liberalize it (in order to raise the standard of living), what happened? The streets went up in arms. But she stuck it out.

    We, as Bahraini citizens, need to determine how we are going to chart our economic future. And, also, we need to accept the fact that alot of people here live way beyond their income. Its called Debt. And lots of it … Not a sustainable way to live.

  22. anonymous says:

    Re(5): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    Yes, i totally agree with you. I didnt delve too deep into the issue in my last post. I was only trying to point out to the original poster that his father is equal to all and that handouts given as benificent ‘gifts’ are not what they seem.

    You do raise an important issue, we should discuss taxation, I personally believe that some income related taxes are due in Bahrain. We are however paying hidden taxes by stealthy means! What I was talking about was the wealth of Bahrain, where did it go and to whom? IF some people had not milked the country of everything of value ie land, oil ect not to mention the fact that the minute some people work their way to being succesful a ‘certain’ person zooms in for a free percentage of the profits, purely based on the fact you dare not say no!

    Yes, we need to take a realistic look at our system but until the abuses of power and corruption continue, whats the point, we all know whos pockets our hard earned cash will end up in!

  23. mahmood says:

    Re(5): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    hey what is this? you’re reading minds now?

    I COMPLETELY agree with what you say here… I’ve just entered another lenghy rant which I hope will be discussed.

  24. mahmood says:

    Re(6): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    Well don’t give up! What the parliament is doing regarding the Pension Fund and the Social Insurance demonstrates that corruption is being addressed, and this is only the first step…

    A couple of heads WILL roll due to this investigation, then you’ll find that people will truly get up and notice that the environment has actually changed.

  25. anonymous says:

    Re(3): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    Trust me dude I know and I can feel every single day that my father is an equal to every other citzen in Bahrain. But the point I’m making is that he wouldn’t of felt that if not of the changes installed by the King himself. Every one is equal in humanity and Islam but what if I lived in Pakistan or even the USA. I think that no person in any of those countries wouldn’t thnk there gov’t or president. Yes the changes are not over we have a long way to go, but it’s a step in the right way no other head of state would ever give up. The president of the US invaded Iraq ignoring protesters in the State of New York and the world. Trust there is no such thing as real democracy. Human dignity and the standard of living is much more important. The king could of easily not given those grants to us he has the power dosen’t he? We should be thankful and strong in our unity be our religion tells us to accept a gift because the prophet did. Thank you good for your grants and pleasing us with Hamad bin Isa.

  26. anonymous says:

    Re(2): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    But what about the people who did not receive a ‘handout’ from the king? there is no disputing that your families life has probably changed for the better but there are MANY many more people who were not lucky or in the right place at the right time to receive a payoff! I wish you well in you education and all the best for your family. I hope that you will use your education to better life for ALL Bahraini peoples.

  27. anonymous says:

    Re: Societal limits

    I agree with you totally dude. I’m a student in the US and exactly in Boston, where I can see the corruption of the gov’t even here. That dosen’t make it right but the fact that changes are being promised and accomplished by the king makes it genuine and unique. A bicamerial system in Bahrain is not the first and not the last. Infact in the British Isles the changes took a long time to come to were they are right now. From the signing of the Magna Carta in the 12th century to Queen Victoria’s almost absolute rule in the 1800’s. Even today the House of Lords is just changing after hunderds of years of hereditory rule. So lets take our time and unite in supporting the gov’t.

  28. anonymous says:

    Re(3): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    With respect to the writer, in this day and age, we shouldnt just have to sit and wait on a ‘benefactor’ to ‘help’ us, we are not children nor should we be bought with a handout. Often these handouts are to quieten dissent.

    Your father is NOT of a ‘lower class’ there is no such thing! Your father is a hard working Bahraini equal to all. The trouble is people in ‘higher positions’ chose to reap the profits directly from your father and opther hard working souls. The huge bank balances of these people, who have not worked a day in their lives is what is used to pay off people who begin to grumble about their lot in life. Please try and understand NO ONE should be demeaned by having a ‘gift’ bestowed upon them when that ‘gift’ was rightfully theirs in the first place. Every bahraini deserves an education and every bahraini deserves a chance to use that education to help others as well as themselves. Your education and the increase in your father families standard of living are not a gift, it is what you are ENTILTED to as a human being.

  29. anonymous says:

    Re: Societal limits

    Democracy is about more than just majority rule. Its based on the principles of consensus building and taking into account minority views; values that make democracy incompatible with an Islamic extremist group such as Al-Wefaq Islamic Action. They were right to boycott the 2002 elections because they had no place taking part in the process. Al-Wefaq’s mirror image on the wahabi Right, the Asala MPs, are demonstrating their inability to function within the democratic processes too over Big Brother and Nancy Ajram.

    When you’ve got Asala and Al-Wefaq wanting to turn the country in to Taliban Afghanistan/Islamic Republic of Iran respectively, it was a very wise move to go for an appointed an upper chamber, which is vital to in giving minorities a voice and help moderate some of the Islamists more outlandish proposals. Consider the alternative – a one chamber parliament with the beards completely free to do as they please. Not a pleasant prospect.

    And on the constitutional changes what choice did the King have? Before the King’s constitutional amendments women couldn’t vote, but Al-Wefaq’s call for the amendments to be passed through the old parliamentary system would have robbed them of this right again. Reconstituting the old parliament would have created the paradoxical situation where an all male elected assembly would be able to veto giving women the vote. There’s no guarantee under such circumstances women would have got the vote, especially if it was dominated by Al-Wefaq Islamists (in fact their beloved 1973 parliament never made any move to extend the franchise to women).

    I hope the King takes Al-Wefaq’s petition and puts it straight in the shredder.

  30. anonymous says:

    Societal limits

    عذر اقبح من ذنب

    سلاماÙ? سلاما

  31. mahmood says:

    Re(1): Societal limits

    That’s exactly what the Kuwaiti women are strugling against right now. They cannot vote, although arguably they have the most active parliaments in the region, yet the men actually VOTED AGAINST giving their mothers and sisters the right to vote!

    I wouldn’t go as far as shredding Al-Wefaq’s petition though. It might have some merit and Al-Wefaq like all other political societies in Bahrain should re-consider their charter as they have built it on dreams of 1973, rather than the outlook beyond 2004. They need to understand and build into their constitution plurality, ie, not base their manifesto on religion and sect, but rather national duty and the development of tolerance and democracy.

    To me at least, they seem to live in the past rather than look (as a country) to the future.

    Sure there are things which must be corrected, and all the societies (except for the Asala crowd) have been fighting for:

    1. repeal of Law 56 – in order to bring torturers to justice
    2. publication law – to enculcate the freedom – real freedom – of the press. That should go further and demand that the press should be SELF censoring rather than depend on the Ministry of Information/Judicial system
    3. Personal freedoms

  32. mahmood says:

    Re(7): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    They say that Al-Asfoors were the rulers of Bahrain in the 12th century. I’ve read somewhere that they too didn’t spare the local population anguish! If and when I find that piece I’ll put it up for you to have a look.

    I wonder what else other tribes did in this lovely paradise of ours throughout history. Hey come to think of it, what any ruling tribe did in any country on earth… and while we’re at it, let’s persecute them and show them the hell they deserve! Why restrict this witch-hunt just to the current tribe?

  33. anonymous says:

    Re(8): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    cos this is MY country and these are MY rulars, the rest of the world can do what they like. this isnt a witch-hunt, this is a perfectly valid historical, anthropological, political and economic argument, u can look at the issue from anyone of these angles, which some researchers have done. The present ruler initiatives to ‘democratise’ are to ensure survival whilst maintaining traditional power structures. These arnt my words but that of the renound scholar- Peter Sluglett.

  34. anonymous says:

    Re(1): Societal limits

    I challenge u my friend, to give me one single bit of evidence to uphold ur unfounded allegations against Al-Wefaq. Give me one newspaper article, or one direct quote, or for that matter any single document which even IMPLIES that Al-Wefaq want an islamic state. Women are allowed to nominate and to vote in this society, in fact the female members have participated in a few international conferences.

    Please visit http://www.alwefaq.org/ which i managed to find on the net.

    FYI Mahmood,
    المادة 2
    تعريÙ? الجمعية
    جمعية الوÙ?اق الوطني الإسلامية ØŒ جمعية أهلية ØŒ إسلامية ØŒ تهتم بشؤون الوطن والمواطن على المستوى الÙ?ردي والاجتماعي ØŒ وتعمل على تنمية المجتمع وازدهاره ØŒ وتعزيز وحدته الوطنية ÙˆÙ?Ù‚ رؤية شـاملة ومتكاملة مستمدة من تعاليم القرآن الكريم والسنة الشريÙ?Ø© ØŒ ومبادئ دستور دولة البحرين ØŒ وميثاق العمل الوطني .
    Very clear statements in the Society’s constitution- it is working for social development and prosperity, national unity with a broad and comprehensive vision extending from the teachings of the Quran and the Prophetic Tradition, the principles of Bahrain’s constitution and the National Charter.

    The constitution is approved by the Ministry of Labour which can annul the society should it defy its constitution (correct me if im wrong).

    Please dont put Esalah and Wefaq in the same basket. Al-Wefaq, the largest society in Bahrain with over 5000 members boasts the most highly educated people in its committees and as members- doctors, engineers, highly-ranked managers, scholars. I was very impressed by their efficiency, and highly organised activities which have always been PEACEFUL. I wish them all the success, especially in the upcoming petition- a very healthy way for people to express their demands or dissatisfactions with any issues of this country. It will be a broad petition which I expect Sunnis and Shia’s to sign, young and old.

    But alas, i fear it will end up in the shredder as their are many people in authority with the same mentality as the guy above.

  35. anonymous says:

    Re(9): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    hmmm. you say that you arent interested in what the ‘rest of the world is doing

  36. anonymous says:

    2006 Parliament

    hey .. how successful do you think Al Wefaq are going to be in the 2006 elections?

  37. mahmood says:

    Re(10): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    I agree with you. Stability is the key to democratic success, and a democracy will not succeed without popular participation (which is its definition), so if the boycotters are really “working and speaking for the people” better get into the process rather than throw stones from the outside and demonstrate your bravado by your belligerence.

  38. anonymous says:

    Re(2): Societal limits

    Woopsie daisy, someone stood on your toe? There are many of us who tend to veer towards the same views in bahrain, many of us are also boasting -the most highly educated people such as- doctors, engineers, highly-ranked managers, scholars. Does this mean all is lost, are we at an impasse?

  39. mahmood says:

    Re(2): Societal limits

    Come on now don’t get frustrated with us Bahrainia… We’re discussing these issues to understand each other’s point of view and if convinced then change OUR view.

    As for the challenge, what you quoted was enough to answer your own question:

    comprehensive vision extending from the teachings of the Quran and the Prophetic Tradition, the principles of Bahrain’s constitution and the National Charter

    Let’s analyse that part and see what their priorities are:

    1. The Quran and Sunna are paramount in formulating their laws, direction and future, then
    2. the PRINCIPLES of the constitution. Not the constitution as agreed by the people, but its spirit, and if by any chance there is something that they interpret as “un-Islamic” then throw that out.

    Meaning: their first priority is changing the agreed (yes I know your point of view on this) “The Islamic Shari’a is A principal source for legislation” (Article 2) – to “The Islamic Shari’a is THE ONLY source for legislation”.

    Now tell me that Asala and Wefaq are really one and the same. At least their goal is. And tell me that they don’t want to turn Bahrain into an Islamist state (sorry, republic!)

    [Modified by: Mahmood Al-Yousif (mahmood) on March 10, 2004 08:26 PM]

  40. anonymous says:

    Re(4): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    Thereis no point in comparing democracies, granted the US and UK are not perfect democracies by any means BUT compare the freedoms in those countries with that of our own! Another major difference is that the people in those countries KNOW that they truly have the power to change a useless government, and if push came to shove and something awful happened then people power can and has in the past been utilised to remove a goverment. The laws are in place for people to dissent and choose a new government.

    Now we cannot compare democracies, there are many different kinds, my personal favourites are the scandinavian models but they too are not perfect. This being the point, NO democracy is perfect but ALL regimes are imperfect, all monarchial systems are imperfect. The point being that democracy offers the people a say in how they choose to live, it gives hope in the sense if you feel strongly about issues, then you are free to try and change them.

    I feel degraded by a sytem that arbitrarily ‘bestows gifts’ on people but I do know that a monarchy’s number one priority is to look after themselves and if that means shutting people up by throwing tidbits at them every now and again then this is fine! I reccomend you read up on the monarchies of Europe, in every case you will see that people power in one way or another has taken back control of there countries wealth. A strange exception is the UK, self presavation of this sycophantic family forced them to concede most of their powers whilst still syphoning off a hefty amount of the countries wealth to propogate one of the most dysfuntional families on this planet.

    We cannot seriously thank a monarch for returning ‘gifts’ to the people when they have systamatically raped the country of it’s wealth (do you eventhink they invest this money in this country? NO, the cash is all outside in safe bank accounts because they are fully aware that one day, perhaps, the people will say “no more’) they are still looking after their family interests after all! A health centre, a school, a community centre, mosques ect, these are all part of the fabric of a society. They are not to be given as gifts and should never be seen as such by the recipients, they are what they are.. a return of what was stolen from the people.

    In that sense we should be grateful that these ‘gifts’ have been returned to the people they belong to.

    I do seriously reccomend that you read up on ancient European monarchies, it is frightening just how similar todays lot are!

  41. mahmood says:

    Re: 2006 Parliament

    I hope they join the fray then, but somehow I really doubt it.

    If they do however, then will they get the 48% who didn’t vote last time? I doubt that too, (1) they missed their chance, (2) the developments and the wave against the Islamists (of all sects) in Bahrain has grown, and (3) people are now not afraid to question and speak their minds.

    So in short, they’ll get a few seats, but not the number they hope for. If they join that is.

  42. anonymous says:

    Re(8): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    Sir you have your own opinion and I respect it alot but trust anything that happenes to the royal Family will inflame the situation more. The King is our symbol, as the Queen is for England, and the president is for America. The royals have alot of support from shia’s and sunni’s. As a shia I thank there great father Sh. Ahmed Al-Fateh from liberating us from the unjust shahs of Iran. They were unhuman and a good example is what the Shah did in killing thousands of Iranians in 1979. I don’t want to be part of that. Trust when the day comes myself and alot others I know will support the open policies of the Al-Khalifa’s.

  43. anonymous says:

    Re(3): Societal limits

    Please tell me where you derive your telepathic and imaginitive skills, since you seem very creative in deriving a conclusions based on nothing but ‘assumptions’:

    [quote]Meaning: their first priority is changing the agreed (yes I know your point of view on this) “The Islamic Shari’a is A principal source for legislation” (Article 2) – to “The Islamic Shari’a is THE ONLY source for legislation”. [/quote]

    this is what you would LIKE to think that they want. So why dont they state that in their own constitution then? Wouldnt you think they would set up a microcosmic islamic state within their own circle before they try catching the big fish- ie creating an islamic state in Bahrain.

    Did anyone by any chance attend the Symposium on Human Rights in the Middle East, presented by Joe Stork at Al Oruba Club on March 8. Very interesting that he concluded, “… there are some positive reforms compared to the 90s, such as freedoms of expression and association, yet there are major problems to be acknowledged by the government such as 2002 constitution, sectarian discrimination, unemployment, naturalization, press law no.47 and immunity law no.56.
    Human Rights’ Watch’s 1996 report on the situation in Bahrain did not receive a helpful response from the, then Bahrain’s Ambassador to US Mohammed Abdul-Ghaffer.”

    Funnily, this received zero media coverage in the papers.

  44. mahmood says:

    Re(4): Societal limits

    I am SO assured by your sarcasm Bahrainia. Sorry if I offended you.

    I am also assured that Al-Wefaq don’t want to change Bahrain into a “microcosmic islamic state”. But had this been their intention, then surely their constitution would encompass the whole of Bahrain, rather than Muslims exclusively? Or did I read that wrong again – my telepathic skills are waning I grant you – but more important, why is it that they insist into dragging Islam into it and put so much emphasis on it if their intention is not to turn us into a macrocosmic Islamic republic?

    Unfortunately I did not attend the symposium, I wish I had and I *will* make time to attend as many of these symposia as I can manage, for my own edification and expansion. Seriously. I didn’t even know that was going on until I read about it in the papers. (todo: join Al-Oruba club)

    Press Law 47: Completely against it. It should be repealed and the media should be self-censoring. Note I said media rather than press, for under 47 I would probably be eligible for prosecution!

    Immunity Law 56: Completely against it. Torturers and rapists should be brought to book. End of story.

    Were you actually at the simposium? Do you have a link to the minutes or report?

  45. anonymous says:

    Re(6): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    The mentality of the Al-Khalifa is purely Tribal. In a talk called the ‘Myth of Monarchies’ held at a London university, a renound speaker, stated all these so-called Bahraini democratic reforms and renaming it the Kingdom of Bahrain were initiatives only to ensure the survival and entrenchment of the Al-Khalifa tribe as rulars of the land, as they increasingly felt thier power being questioned by others, and thats simply just not acceptable!! We must bow and kiss their shoulder or jump and kiss thier noses, and thank them for thier makramaat or ‘gifts

  46. anonymous says:

    Societal limits

    No one is disagreeing with a bicameral parliament. But a bicameral parliament is not democratic when the members are appointed by the King rather than chosen through a broader electorate which is indeed the case in the US. In the case of the UK, the upper chamber (with hereditory peers in the past) could always be overruled by the lower (directly elected) chamber .

    Bicameralism can be a good thing, and every country needs to develop its own unique system of governance through this political infrastructure, but all ‘democratic’ countries are united on one simple principle – that the MAJORITY rule. We all know democracy took 600 years to develop in the UK, but the difference is, the system that developed set a PRECEDENT. In Bahrain, political awareness is very high, and the notion of democracy is widely understood – that is why a large disenfranchised section of the society are choosing not to recognise the parliament, and deeming the constitution as NON-CONTRACTUAL, since the King decided to get a bunch of ‘foreign’ (mainly egyptians) to draft the present constitution and then to impose. It is not the same constitution stated in the National Charter- therefore it is not contractual by definition.

  47. mahmood says:

    Re(7): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    And the boycots of course will remove the ruling family, restore peaceful existance, and return the wealth to the people of Bahrain. Right. Nice dream that, I see that you still have your rose-tinted glasses on Bahrainia! Good on ya!

    The boycot was done purely for selfish reasons with the mentality of hostage-taking.

    The Al-Khalifas have been around for 300 years. Some are hated while others are loved. Whether you or I like it or not, they are internationally recognised as the leaders of this country.

    The story of the parliament and the magna carta in England only happened when the PEOPLE themselves APPOINTED a king after the strife that happened when they got rid of the previous ruling family! Ironic? You bet. But to which end? They found that a King UNITES a country and gives – if not full – at least some semblance of legitimacy.

    We can go into this discussion and bring out the actual history books and cross-reference the facts if you like, I’m in the mood for touching up my history.

    So, yes, there have been unlawful and dispicable acts committed by the royal family in the past, and there probably will be in the future. The difference this time however is that there seems to be real accountability from within the family itself now.

    I firmly believe, now more than ever, that the most important added-value the royal family embodied in the King is stability. I don’t fancy living in chaos should they be arbitrarily – and most probably judging by your views – forcibly removed.

    What you can’t seem to consider too is that the time factor is extremely important. A friend of mine commented yesterday that it was wrong for Bahrain to suddenly have full parliamentary elections. He suggested that we should have gradually done that, do elections and enculcate democratic ideas starting from school canteens, boy scouts, societies, cooperatives, ma’atems and once – after a few years – the idea of democracy takes hold, then introduce municipal then parliamentary elections!

    While I don’t agree with his analysis, I do see his point vis-a-vis what’s happened so far by normally unemployable mullahs dabbling in politics.

    NOTHING happens overnight. It takes time, what we have done by having parliamentary bodies now is akin to being thrown at the deep end and told to swim. To hell with swimming, let’s first concentrate on not drowning!

    And now you propose that we just kick the royals out? Do you have any idea how much chaos, and for how long this will last should that idea takes hold?

    History tells us – as in the case of the Britain you cite – probably hundreds of years permeated by untold war, famine and completely unnecessary suffering.

    Now tell me that you want to live in this surreal image and want to bring up your chilldren in it too.

    Be honest now.

    [Modified by: Mahmood Al-Yousif (mahmood) on March 10, 2004 01:57 PM]

  48. anonymous says:

    Re(6): Political Reform in Bahrain: The Price of Stability

    Maybe ur trying to over-analyse what I say and u jump into the defensive too quickly.

    If you’re talking about the Magna Carta in the 13th century, lets talk about how the Khalifa’s conquered Bahrain through the Great Ahmed ALFATIH in the 18th century – the massacres that took place. Alfatih a name given to muslims who conquer non-muslim lands implying that Bahrain wasnt even a muslim country- Bahrainis were in fact considered sub-human in the conquerers eyes. Hmmm they dont teach that in the school history books do they? no maybe u dont wanna go down that avenue Mahmood 🙂 History is written by the victors.

    The victorious tribe conquers Bahrain and liberates it from its jahillya, with the help of AlDowasur tribe. Which the AlKhalifa somehow think that this gives them the justification to give every single Dowasur tribe member the right to Bahraini citizenship even if they havent even set foot in the country!!!! If you go to AlDowasur district in the east of Saudi, there is an office just to provide an express service to process their passport applications- over 20,000 so far. So YES history is VERY relevant to today.

    In the Middle-East, its either chaos or dicatotorship. You can get a good dictator (like sh. zayed of the UAE) or u can get a bad dictator (like Saddam Hussain) but at the end of the day they are all DICTATORS – as in absolute rulers as one definition of dictators. Whatever the guise of democracy they may use, as long as they have absolute rule, we are living in dictatorships. Such dictatorships may indeed imply stability – if there is a strong sense of trust by the people in this dictator, and a common understanding of the path taken to prosperity. No one is fooled by the democratic sham in Bahrain. But shortfalls in democracy can be accepted under good economic conditions, stable political environment and trust (if the latter can vaguely co-exist). But politics is just part of human nature, u cannot suppress it to create ‘stability’.

    Im not even vaguely an advocate of any kind of coup, but I wouldnt suppress my joy if I were to hear of the good old uncle ‘magically’ disappearing tomorrow nor would 80% of Bahrainis. When that day comes thats when the tribal ruler can begin building bridges with its people.

    laterzzzz

  49. anonymous says:

    Re(5): Societal limits

    i have a comment for bahrainia.

    i have to admit, that i too, reached mahmood’s conclusion re al wifaq wanting an islamic state and i will just explain why.

    the devil lies in the details. we all agree that islam is part of our culture and tradition. however, we cannot talk about marrying the state to islam without fully understanding whose interpretation of islam gets embodied in what law.

    take one example of child support and divorce. in bahrain alone, we have two ‘islamically compliant’ approaches. one for the sunnis and one for the shia. what does this mean? if we have islamic legislation, which legislation governs? wouldnt it be better and more efficient to have a personal effects law that is partially based on the principles of sharia and partially based on the socio-economic relaity that is on the ground today? there is absolutely no reason whatsoever today why the father should get the kids at age 7 (or whatever the cut off age is). the real reason it was introduced in the first place was because the financial responsability lay on the man. i dont think the situation is this way today.

    the same principle goes for inheritance. different rules based on whether you are sunni or shia. however, in both, the male is favored. why? because they were traditionally the bread winners.

    so, my issue is really that if the prophet at the time wasnt afraid to create laws that reflected the traditions of the time, and actually gave more equal rights to women, then why are we afraid of having our legal system reflect the inconsistencies that exist in our world today – drawing on the sharia as one of the sources?

    when someone defines himself of herself as belonging to an ‘islamic; party, i get scared. whose defintion of islam? and more importantly, how are they going to guarantee my personal freedoms? the Taliban thought they were the ‘real moslems

  50. mahmood says:

    Re(6): Societal limits

    I agree with you. Further, I think NOT having a personal law is shameful. They have been discussing this for more than 20 years now and are at loggerheads because the shari’a judges on both sides just don’t want to lose their power over people’s very lives. And if it’s women who are subjugated, then hey, that’s fine, they’re only women!

    I heard of instances where shari’a judges, shi’as in this case, habitually tell women (especially if young and nubile) that they will only grant them divorce from their husbands only if they agree to a temporary mariage to them (muta’a)!

    Go figure. If we give THEM, the Islamists – any Islamist – the power over our lives, where are we going to end up? And if we support an overly islamist political party, then we might as well just accept fate and move on with our lives as best we could… after all, this is all “written” isn’t it?

  51. anonymous says:

    Re(7): Societal limits

    ok. whats up with the violence against people from the subcontinent? what happened over the weekend? and how come our islamists aren’t up in arms about the ‘social norms’ that are exhibited by our Bahraini youth? shouldn’t they be jumping up and down about this??

  52. mahmood says:

    Re(8): Societal limits

    Inexcusable.

    The perpetrators should be shown the full extent of the law, and the mentally challenged police officer who let those 6 Bahrainis go when they harrassed an Indian woman demanding that she gives them a kiss should be stripped from his rank, dishonourably discharged from duty and thrown in jail.

    There is mounting crime directly related to the ineffectiveness of the police. Look at what happened in both Muharraq and Manama over the past few weeks where residents took the law into their hands. Is that not an indication that we’re descending into chaos?

    The police should be retrained to be real policemen. And offenders should be persecuted, especially if they are from the police cadres.

  53. anonymous says:

    Re(8): Societal limits

    Hear, Hear. Doesnt this just show where the priorities of these people lie? Their agenda is purely to propogate division within society. It seems only people who subscribe to their ideas and ideals are worth making their mouths go, All others are not human beings.

    Where are the police, what is going on there?

  54. anonymous says:

    Re(9): Societal limits

    well .. security needs to be on the election campaign strategies of our beloved mp’s for 2006. also – for those who keep yakking about democracy and the constitution and majority rule .. the real test of a democracy is how it deals with its minorities. so far, we are not doing a great job. and i think we really need to admit to oursleves that democracy is a learning process, and it will take at least a few parliaments before we can actually get our act together and be judged for whether we were able to effectively manage the responsabilties given to us through the exercise of free votes or not.

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