Wefaq boycotting inaugural parliamentary session

15 Dec, '06

I’ve just learned from a reliable source that Al-Wefaq has boycotted the inaugural session of parliament. This means that the largest political society in Bahrain, the one which won 17 clear seats out of 40, and gained 62% of the electoral vote is not participating in their first every parliamentary session to be opened by the king this afternoon, and they will also boycott the first session of parliament to be held immediately after in which it is supposed to elect all the leading positions for the next 4 years.

I heard that the “higher ups” have offered Al-Wefaq the chairmanship of parliament if they dropped their demands for a Bandargate investigation and the removal of Ahmed Attiyatallah and everyone else who was implicated in the report.

Al-Wefaq refused.

They said that the Bandargate investigation and the chairmanship of the parliament are mutually exclusive and should be evaluated individually. As the government refused to entertain that vision, Al-Wefaq walked out.

I don’t know about you, but I smell the 90s coming back. And I can hear helicopters outside.

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  1. mahmood says:

    thanks Dude! DAMN!

  2. Jasra-Jedi says:

    i see!

    ali salman is playing chess, and whilst his opening game is not check mate yet, he is definitely not playing defense!!

    this should be an interesting 4 years. and an exhausting one.

    allah yestir. and i hope that there is sufficient wisdom in the island to go round …

  3. mahmood says:

    I felt this since Dec 2nd. While everyone else was kissing and cuddling and visiting to try to sort out their position, Wefaq were completely mum about the whole situation with no single voice demanding this or that.

    This “move” must have been planned since then, and I bet they informed the Royal Court about their plan (wouldn’t say threat) that if they don’t remove the “problem minister” and his stooges in the Shura, then they’ll boycott.

    The question is, as they believed in the premise of working from the inside, why didn’t they just get in and then demand the investigation and then call for a vote of confidence?

    Unless they were absolutely sure that as they are in the minority, and the remaining 22 will vote as they are told to vote there is no way they can settle this through “democratic means.”

    You’re right JJ in assuming that this is a game of chess, especially when you consider the first move by Wefaq was double, the Attiyatallah affair on one square, and the castigation of the Royal Court meddling in the distribution of positions, ie, perceived control of parliament on the other.

    Let’s now see how the Royal Court will respond.

  4. Jasra-Jedi says:

    I dont think they really believed in working from the inside. I dont think they really beleive in the vehicle of parliament either.

    I think they got involved this year to show everyone that they still command majority. And if they wanted to, they could get every seat they ran for. Which they did …

    They are not interested in being a speaker. Or one or two cabinet posts.

    They want power. With a Capital P.

    And, the way they are playing the game, they mean business.

    Mahmood, I dont think this is their ‘first’ move. I think this is their first ‘public’ move. There must have been some manouvering behind the scenes. Why react to cabinet postings today? Why not talk about the B situation before? Why do it all now?

    They aer playing for very very high stakes here. And the guy has a loooong term view of the situation. They are thinking in terms of decades. Not months.

    And I think, that in their mind, the end game is very very clear.

    I really honestly hope that all the players in this story have the same clarity and conviction and are humble enough to be students of history.

  5. can we talk says:

    it does looks like it is being played like a game of chess, guys. the problem is that whereas in a game of chess the game ends with check mate and the important thing is who wins (which can only be one of the two), in this case the game does not end and there are consequences.

    I see this move as short-sighted. yes it makes the point and embarasses PTB, but what happens next? will they be less effective if they even hold none of the major posts? if having none of the posts makes them less able to deliver, then they are making a point at the expense of the people. if it does not affect their ability to deliver, then it is only a matter of pride and saving face and not really relevant in the big picture.

    I have a problem with PTB being involved in any way in who becomes what, after all they have the other council to balance things out anyway and they will. I think PTB made the wrong move by getting involved, but the boycotting move also is reminiscent of the boycott in 2002.
    Wefaq made their point then and they caused PTB embarassment by taking a stand publicly, BUT that was at the expense of not being able to make a significant difference for four whole years. cutting off their nose to spite their face.

    I also don’t understand why they couldn’t just try to work on things from the inside. would all the other members really have voted against?
    it really does not feel very good to be one of the pawns they are playing with..
    and for the first time, I feel like I’ve just watched the end of season cliff-hanger of a prime-time drama and have no idea what is going to happen next.. does anyone?

  6. Anonymous says:

    the guy has a loooong term view of the situation.

    that is scary. it means we are in for a very bumpy ride. and a very bumpy landing. in a not very nice place.
    should we start relocating?

  7. can we talk says:

    sorry, anonymous was me :blush:

  8. mahmood says:

    would all the other members really have voted against?

    Just watching and listening and reading about the “other” 22 over the last couple of months, I would wager heavily that the answer is yes, they would.

    have no idea what is going to happen next.. does anyone?

    One day at a time at the moment… Dec 17th promises to produce some fireworks.

  9. Jasra-Jedi says:

    cwt ..

    by changing on the inside, it means they accept the rules of the game. if they boycotted in 2002 because the thought the parliament was illegitimate, that means that in 2006, they STILL think it is illegitimate. they are just trying to prove a point that they could do it if they wanted to ..

    my biggest fear is that this is not shortsighted at all. my biggest fear is that they actually do have a long term play in mind. and that they are willing to do what it takes to bring the PTB to its knees.

    they want to govern. whether they want to share governnance with the ruling family or not i cannot say. but they seem to be determined to ask for their position at the table. and i dont mean the table in the parliament building.

    their strategy is very very similar to hizbollah and nasrallah. control demographics, control the popular vote. play regional politics to your advantage, and push the boundaries. because in doing so, you have some control over the game.

    there is only one of two outcomes in the end.

    the question is, at what cost. and where do we stand in all of this.

    i am feeling helpless and worried and frustrated and concerned. i am feeling like i need some good leadership ….

    being a woman, i dont like religious groups. being a liberal, i beleive in a democratic process. being a peacenik, i dont like violent change or revolution.

    right now, i feel absolutely paralyzed.

  10. mahmood says:

    i am feeling like i need some good leadership ….

    You’re not the only one JJ. The whole of Bahrain is missing this critical factor right now.

    This time, hiding their heads in the sand and pretending that nothing is untoward will not work.

    Like you, the leadership too are in desperate need of good advice, rather than the usual kiss-ass yes-men.

    The plate is vacant, and someone must step up to it right now to calm the situation and seek long term resolution.

    I’ve read somewhere a few days ago that it is believed that the PM will resign in 6 months’ time, the CP will take over running the country, and that his bother Nasser will take over being CP. I thought that very far fetched at the time…

    Another twist, or was that yet another test balloon?

    Whatever it is, I’ve got a lovely house with an excellent almost-established and manicured garden for sale… any takers?

  11. can we talk says:

    right now, i feel absolutely paralyzed.

    JJ,
    I know exactly how you feel…

    any takers?

    Mahmood,
    It looks like it might be a buyers market!!

  12. mahmood says:

    Damn!

    Okay, going cheap(ish!) 😯

  13. Adel says:

    To be crown prince the mother should be Al Khalifa, Nasser mother is from Al Ajman. Salman is filling his position wonderfully. PM resigning in 6M is not that far fetched.

  14. Adel says:

    Guy’s I think if Wefaq continues to boycott, The second place winners will take their place, or am I wrong?

  15. Just me says:

    I think alwefaq’s stance is only natural. It’s gone beyond the idea of ‘who breaks first’. I agree it is a power struggle, long-term or short-term thats just the way it is. A power struggle between a ruling family that has all the power, and a proletariat with none. The struggle between a dictatorship unwilling to cede any power and people who seek to be equals in determining their own political and sovereign destiny. Its a disenfranchised majority who is now seeking to reclaim the public space they have been shunned from for centuries. The issue that is missing in all of this discussion here is the issue of the legitimacy of the proletariat’s will. Unfortunately, I see the discussion here and the fears that seem to have been raised as legitimising the fears of the ruling family.

    Alwefaq representing 62% of total votes has a legitimate right to ask for
    -chairmanship
    -bandargate investigation
    -resignation of Atiyatallah

    If you disagree with the means they are using than that is a different discussion. Also the comparison with Lebonon and Iraq is just scare-mongering. It is a totally different context in Bahrain, even if the sectarian paradigm and crisis scenarious may strike a superficial resemblance.

    Another important point which is unfortunate, is that nothing works with this government unless the opposition ups-the-ante… compromise and changing from within are futile tactics. That is not to say that violence is the solution, but ultimately confrontation with the regime is the only way for it to be cornered on crucial matters that it seeks to sweep under the carpet.

    Don’t forget that also, alwefaq should also be more conscious of its electorate. Like Ali Salman said, he needs to be able to hold the stick from the middle, and his electorate (62% of voters) demand change. If it is perceived to give in to crucial demands stated above, Salman will have to drop the stick. Thats when you will have to start worrying.

    So stop pulling your hair out JJ. The game has just begun.

    The rights and demands

  16. Jasra-Jedi says:

    Just me ..

    You think the parallel to lebanon is just scaremongering?

    lebanon is a country torn apart by sectariansim.

    And we are headng that way.

    And like others got involved in Lebanon, they will too in Bahrain. We have lovely neighbours. Look to the east, and look to the west.

    Please allow me to continue to pull my hair out whilst I am still allowed to show it … 🙂

  17. mahmood says:

    Adel that’s an interesting point.. I won’t dispute it, but is there an internal “constitution” governing these things?

    I have heard of one that exists for the Kanoo family; I would love to have a look at both, I’m sure I could write a nice novel based on both!

  18. mahmood says:

    The issue that is missing in all of this discussion here is the issue of the legitimacy of the proletariat’s will. Unfortunately, I see the discussion here and the fears that seem to have been raised as legitimising the fears of the ruling family.

    I beg to differ. Almost everything that I have written – most certainly today – has Bandargate at its heart. Follow the links offered in each and every post. And Bandargate’s main premise is what you outlined.

  19. Just me says:

    M, I was referring to the other participants in the debate. I am glad you have been quite firm in your stance in this instance.

    JJ, again your response re the hair indicates that your underlying fear that somehow if the majority get into power we will be living under an islamic state. We can argue that point, however it is the same argument that underlies the idea that it is better having a ‘liberal’ dictator than a democratic state. Which also follows the idea that its either this dictator or a sectarian conflict as society will inevitebly fall apart as per Iraq/Lebanon. Again I say it is not an either/or situation, unless you make assumptions. But let us agree to begin this debate from the idea that we should have a contractual constitution and a democratically elected parliament rather than crossing this off as a step towards an islamic revolution! Because underlying fears of yours distorts the entire debate as it extrapolates to the potential unknown rather than what is on the ground at the moment.

    So for now, let your hair down, and loosen up!

  20. Just me says:

    Basically this isnt about conflict, it should be about taking a firm stance on

    -rule of law, an incriminated party should not be on the Executive and the judicial system should be able to hold them to account through legislative bodies. THIS IS NOT HAPPENING

    -Majority getting minority seats and being continually marginalised through distorted electoral boundaries, key government positions in the Executive, and chairmanship. THIS SHOULDN’T HAPPEN.

    Not even speaking of the consitutional issue here, or the appointed shura council.

    This is where reform should begin. This is where the debate should begin, and that is what we should be focussing on.

    Panic attacks because of twisted fears that a boycott will lead to a revolution is unfounded. Status quo suits some who are more concerned with their hair, but the vast majority who are economically, and politically impoverished, this boycott is the least.

    A frequent commentator on this blog, once refused to take oath in the 1973 parliament. To some this may have been a revolutionary act. To him, I am sure, this was a basic instinct.

  21. Just me says:

    Power to the people…

    i’m off…enjoy the not_very_national National weekend…

  22. mahmood says:

    Care to elaborate AbuRasool?

  23. mahmood says:

    Just me, yes I agree, the issue of fairness should be the foundation of every community.

    I was particularly incensed when a community of 42 gets a representative in the Shura, and a community of probably less than 200 gets another one that is touted to be installed as one of the Shura’s vice chairs, while the largest community in this island representing at least 60% of its population – and that is conservative – gets less than half of those seats!

    I have no problem whatsoever with Bahraini Jews nor do I have an issue with Bahraini Christians, Hindus, Zaostrans or half-Martians, I firmly believe that it is their concern how they worship and not mine, but when it comes to representation and politics, this is the hight of discrimination. Especially when one of the two concerned ladies heads an organisation which has been implicated in the Bandargate scandal and they have not released any statement – to my knowledge – absolving themselves of guilt, nor have they expelled the person named in that report who is a high official in their organisation.

    I completely agree with your list: fair distribution of electoral districts (or just make the whole country as one district and be done with it, I have talked about that before and it is doable), fair distribution of opportunities, education and wealth and political positions, and the impartiality of the judicial system and the transparent and fair application of laws.

  24. chan'ad says:

    Mahmood, on the point of the Shura, I think that it IS the place where Jews, other minorities and underrepresented sections of society (eg women) should be allocated seats greater than their proportion. This would be necessary to prevent the tyranny of the majority. But of course, this should be conditional on the Shura being an actual Upper House: i.e. that its legislative powers are clearly restricted relative to the Lower House. Obviously that isn’t the case.

    On a separate note, alot of not nice things are reportedly going on while people are completely focused on the parliament and Al Wefaq.

    (1) Dr Mohd and Hussain’s detentions have been extended for a further 15 days.

    (2) A demonstration for their release was planned near the parliament building today — some demonstrators were arrested for their protest (according to a posting on BOL)

    (3) The govt is not allowing the annual Martyr’s Day rally to take place on Sunday (but the organizers plan on going ahead with it)

    (4) Shaikh Mohd Habeeb Miqdad is being prevented from entering Bahrain at the airport (according to a posting on BOL)

    (5) Abbas Abdali and his wife were briefly detained when they demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Interior on Tuesday.

    What do you make of all this Mahmood?

  25. can we talk says:

    Chan’ad

    “.. again your response re the hair indicates that your underlying fear that somehow if the majority get into power we will be living under an islamic state. .. is the same argument that underlies the idea that it is better having a ‘liberal’ dictator than a democratic state. … let us agree to begin this debate from the idea that we should have a contractual constitution and a democratically elected parliament rather than crossing this off as a step towards an islamic revolution! Because underlying fears of yours distorts the entire debate as it extrapolates to the potential unknown rather than what is on the ground at the moment.”

    you can’t blame people for fear of losing liberties they already have and are not willing to give up under any circumstances. it might appear to be a small matter of hair, but it represents interference in a most basic right.. to be who you want to be, dress how you want to dress, go for any job you want and still be a decent person. one quick look at country will tell you how far back we have moved in personal freedoms in the last couple of decades. a comparison of the university today with what it was 15 years ago is a shocking eye-opener. I love my country, but if someone starts telling me how to dress, i’d be on the first plane out.
    I am not going to say that liberal dictatorship is a good thing, but frankly IF a democraticly elected parliament is going to lead to an islamic state, then the latter IS worse. I can’t say that that is going to happen, but I can tell you that if we do end up going down that road, it will be too late then to cry over spilt milk.
    the solution has to be to ensure everyone has their basic rights fairly and equally and the opportunity to earn more, without taking away freedoms.
    you want to focus on what is on the ground at the moment. what IS on the ground at the moment? what are the alternatives? the alternatives cannot be divirced from each one leads. if you make choices without looking at where the roads lead, you might as well go “eenie meenie minie moe..”

  26. mahmood says:

    Chan’ad, all things being equal I would agree with you, but as the persons selected to the Shura have been incriminated, not only is it wrong to have them in there, but it also shows that complete indifference to people’s feelings you have by insisting on them in the first place. I would agree that the Shura could be the place where you would get minorities represented, but I think there are more Buhra, Ismaelies and HIndus in our community than there are Christians or Jews; of course none of the aforementioned would garner international headlines. Therefore, I suggest that their placement in the Shura in the first place was done for PR purposes rather than a genuine desire to represent a minority.

    I will not go into the uselessness of the returning faces. Al-Wasat brought out the statistics of the activity of these “MPs” a few weeks ago, and a big zero was given to several of them, of the top of my head: Khalid Sharif, Saud Kanoo, Essam Janahi, and various others. I must dig up that page and put a link to it here for reference. The only two who pulled their weights are Jamal Fakhro and Ibrahim Bashmi. I’m glad to see that they have been reselected.

    As to the other issues you mentioned, yes, I’m afraid they fell through the cracks of having the elections, parliament convening and of course the boycott of Wefaq. They, I hope, will get the attention they deserve, and this is our job – as bloggers – to highlight these issues and as such am glad of specific activism blogs like Free Mohammed which is doing an admirable job and focusing their visitors’ attention on that cause.

    Maybe someone needs to start another blog to just track these situations. The BCHR site always highlighted issues such as these, but there need to be an independent effort too. I wish I had the time.

  27. Ibn says:

    Correct me if im wrong Mahmood,

    Is the bottom line that Al-Wefaq boycotted this session in parliament even though they won 62% of the popular vote, because the higer-ups told them they cant get in unless they drop a b-gate investigation?

    -Ibn

  28. mahmood says:

    They didn’t tell them anything. They control the majority of the council with 22 votes out of 40 and no matter what Al-Wefaq or anyone else demands is immaterial, through those “trusted” votes they can completely control the parliament and the issues raised within it.

    The carcass has already been divided if you read what today’s papers carry from the mouths of Salah Ali, Mohammed Khalid, and the like. Also read the editorials of the 4 main Arabic dailies and you’ll be left with no doubt that this has been cooked a long time.

    Read specifically Abbas Busafwan’s piece in Alwaqt (he’s a Wefaq insider) in which he explains that Wefaq has requested a meeting with the King as far back as Wednesday to share their concerns, but the king was at the equestrian endurance race in Qatar as part of the ASIAD games. This indifference has forced their hand and resolutely put them in a corner and forced them into using this (democratic) tool to show their displeasure.

    Of course if you read Anwar Abdulrahman’s piece, you’re left with no doubt at all that Al-Wefaq are nothing but traitorous low lifes who planned to embarrass the king all along. Anwar of course is known to be much more royal than the king.

    This is not the end of it, but just the start and no matter what everyone says, politics is a game of chess as JJ so succinctly put it earlier, and what we are witnessing and as “Just me” has also observed that are nothing more than opening moves.

    links lead to Arabic articles

  29. jasra jedi says:

    Just me: You state

    JJ, again your response re the hair indicates that your underlying fear that somehow if the majority get into power we will be living under an islamic state.

    Darling, the name of the majority in this case is called Al Wifaq National Islamic party.

    Do you still think that my fears of potentially living under an Islamic state are unfounded?

  30. Just me says:

    Yes it is unfounded, I stated that we should start this debate on the pretext that we all agree on a contractual consitution based on tolerence, pluralism and representation, inclusive of all political tendencies of the country, be it Alwefaq Islamic society, or the Green Dugong Society.

    It’s a fallacious argument one which based on fear of potential outcomes. If you truly fear such an outcome you should focus on raising educational standards, constitutional patriotism and political conciousness. What we see is political strangulation which promotes radicalisation and religious extremism. Let democracy take its course, economic inequalities tackled, everyone just wants a dignified existence based on equal rights.

  31. can we talk says:

    “”It’s a fallacious argument one which based on fear of potential outcomes.””

    that is how one evaluates alternatives.. based on their potential outcomes. anything else is gambling.
    p.s. my comment above “(12:54am Dec 16th) should have been addressed to “Just me” not to Chanád

  32. Just me says:

    How about gambling now on the present rights and responsibilities of the players (citizens, commmunities, societies and ruler) involved in determining the potential outcomes?

    So instead of peddling fear of what may happen, how about focussing on how to make it a smooth transition by making it an INCLUSIVE, and consensus-driven process. At the moment, the so-called-reforms are a take-it-or-leave it proposition, which drives certain factions to boycott such a proposition in the first place.

  33. can we talk says:

    “a smooth transition ”

    to what? that’s what I want to know. so we can make informed choices..

  34. Just me says:

    I said many times during this discussion:

    I stated that we should start this debate on the pretext that we all agree on a contractual consitution based on tolerence, pluralism and representation, inclusive of all political tendencies of the country, be it Alwefaq Islamic society, or the Green Dugong Society.

    …basically some form on democracy, constitutional monarchy based on rights and responsbilities of citizens, parties, and the ruling family. The latter should get used to waving their hands in alien fashion and making a few appearance at horse races and other stuff useless monarchs do.

  35. jasra jedi says:

    Just me ..

    Wasn’t it Al Wefaq who protested Personal Effects Laws on the grounds that it was unislamic?

    My fears are not unfounded. Iran pre and post revolution is still very similar. Same problems of corruption. Same everything. Except, women are covered.

    Sorry, but I would rather deal with reform minded secular liberals than with Islamic parties.

  36. chan'ad says:

    A random point about the Family Law, since you mention it.

    I’m sure you heard the rumours from insiders that Al Wefaq’s spiritual leaders (Qasim, Ghuraifi, et al) came to an agreement with the King, in which he would not push the Family Law if the clerics would participate in the elections.

    If that rumour was true, then we should expect to hear the govt start talking about the Family Law again any moment now (to counter Wefaq’s boycott threat). Let’s see…

  37. jasra jedi says:

    Chan’ad.

    Do you think thats true? Why would they settle with HM on that? The last time they took a position, they have OVERWHELMING majority with them and they took to the streets to protest.

    If Al Wefaq wanted a negotiating chip, it would’t be Personal Effects Law. It would be structure and makeup of cabinet, or consitutional reform.

  38. can we talk says:

    this is exactly what I mean by bargaining with our freedomes and rights.
    and for an Islamic state, no thank you. that would be like signing the death warrant on this country’s economy and its future. it may work in SA next door, although a lot of people feel opressed there too, because it fits with their competitive advantage; having the one thing noone can emulate (the house of Islamic God). so it makes sense.
    we take steps leading towards an islamic state and we are basically killing our children’s future, if not ours.
    you cannot negotiate with people who cannot see that or who don’t care. you cannot negotiate the economic future of a country with people whose sole goal is other-wordly. especially when your side is also motivated by ethics and the well-being of society.
    in simpler terms, if the middle and the right negotiate, you end up in the right. hence you are no longer in the middle. hence the right wins.
    everytime there is a negotiation, you move more to the right. more compromises with our liberties. more freedoms lost.
    We need more liberties, not fewer.. we need more freedoms, not fewer.. we need more individuality, not less.. we need more empowerment, not less..we need more thinkers, fewer parrots.. more intellect, less puppetry.. more intelligence and creativity, less brainwashing..

  39. Just Bahraini says:

    I was particularly incensed when a community of 42 gets a representative in the Shura, and a community of probably less than 200 gets another one that is touted to be installed as one of the Shura’s vice chairs, while the largest community in this island representing at least 60% of its population – and that is conservative – gets less than half of those seats!

    Let’s hope the ones who got in are “Just Bahrainis” trying to do a good job – no ethnic / religious / racial labels. What’s happened to you, Mahmood?

  40. can we talk says:

    any news on today’s events in Manama?

  41. mahmood says:

    That was a rather cheep one. You know exactly where I stand and what my meaning was, unless you’re skewing it to your advantage, that’s a different matter.

    CWT, just posted an update.

  42. chan'ad says:

    JJ said:

    Do you think thats true? Why would they settle with HM on that? The last time they took a position, they have OVERWHELMING majority with them and they took to the streets to protest.

    I don’t know whether there was an explicit agreement between the clerics and the King (though the photos of them getting cuddly in his court suggested so). However I have no doubt that the regime used the Family Law solely for bargaining purposes and nothing more. If the govt really wanted the Law, then it would have bulldozed it through parliament as it did with the hugely unpopular Terrorism Law and Gathering Law. But nothing happened — the government suddenly went silent.

    So I think Ghada Jamsheer is absolutely correct for seeing through the farce and recognizing the govt’s use of the Family Law as a means of black mail (read her statement issued last month).

    The point that needs to be understood is that the state/tribal/corporate patriarchy is not much better than religious patriarchy. It is all just about men using women’s issues where and when it suits them.

  43. jasra jedi says:

    chan’ad ..

    The point that needs to be understood is that the state/tribal/corporate patriarchy is not much better than religious patriarchy. It is all just about men using women’s issues where and when it suits them.

    point seen. point understood. point heard loud and clear.

    now what????

  44. chan'ad says:

    @JJ

    now what? now, we need to stop allowing the Al Khalifa regime to legitimize its rule claiming to be the defenders of women’s rights in Bahrain.

    the regime of course wants everyone to believe that there are only two choices available. either the current dictatorship, or a bloody islamic revolution. either the state/tribal patriarchy, or religious patriarchy. but this is not the case. there is always a third avenue… and if there isnt one then we have to create that avenue.

    so what does this mean for women? it means that rather than continuing to be used as pawns by both the regime and the clerics, women need to assert themselves. it means they need to get out of their coffee mornings and their charity photo-ops and start doing something to empower all women. look at the bigger picture, recognize patriarchy in all its forms, and challenge it.

    you may have read some of the excellent work produced by haya al-mughni about women in kuwait. the situation and history there seems very similar to what we have seen in bahrain. she discusses how most women’s organizations in kuwait are usually classist organizations that do little to empower women in general (except for during a very short period of time). the same goes for bahrain. whether its the expat housewive’s organizations, or the businesswomen’s orgs, or the supreme council for women — all of them work within the male-defined roles for women (with little or no concern for working class women).

    the only group (that i know of) which has sought to challenge the patriarcharchal status quo is ghada jamsheer and the women’s petition committee. though there is only so much that can be done with the limited resources and support available to her.

    the state patriarchy will at times tolerate or encourage women to oppose the hijab or wear mini-skirts — but it will not allow women to challenge the male rulers for real power, political power.

    so, no more coffee-mornings. reclaim the streets.

  45. jasra jedi says:

    chan’ad ..

    the states had the constitution written in 1789 – or thereabouts. women got the right to vote in the 1920’s.

    switzerland only sorted out the womens issue in the 1970’s.

    In the UK, for a very long time, it was only men who owned property who could vote for parliament. women got their position after the world wars methinks.

    look at saudi when the women tried to drive and they got hammered, the by the powers that be. they were told that ‘it wasnt the right time to fight for the right to drive’..

    i think women only get their position AFTER years and years and after the state has sorted out votes for men.

    so, until the government fight their battle with the clergy, i am staying put … no point in being a martyr before my time ..

    aint gonna take to no streets .. let others do their battles ..

  46. can we talk says:

    “so, no more coffee-mornings. reclaim the streets.”

    sorry, too busy for coffee-mornings, and can’s see the futility of taking to the streets.
    too busy wifing, mothering, working, studying, contributing to society in whatever way possible..juggling.. and sometimes posting.. drinking coffee on the run!

    the only way to move up today is to get an education, put your foot on the first rung of the ladder that you can reach and show that you’re better than anybody else.. and if you can’t move up, move on to another ladder..
    i won’t be told what to wear, but i ain’t gonna go on the streets and fight for more rights for people who themselves march against their own empowerment.. i’ll fight my own way..

  47. M says:

    “i think women only get their position AFTER years and years and after the state has sorted out votes for men.”

    Good thing Martin Luther King didn’t say that about blacks getting their position after white women got their votes sorted out. Besides, there is an added danger with the clergy completely getting control and the backwards slide for everyone. The best way to effect change is for the voices of the moderates, be they male or female, combining to speak louder than the few who want to control the many.

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