The government’s solution to sectarianism

23 Jun, '08

bombIs to create a over-sight commission headed by the Minister of Interior and includes representatives from the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Information to oversee whatever is published in the papers or electronic websites as well as whatever is said in the Friday sermons, and if any is found to be sectarian motivated, well, the news report doesn’t specify the punishment.

On the other side, the public was invited to sign a petition and a code of ethics promulgated by the liberal National Action Democratic Society (Waad) against sectarianism. A 100 signatories already penned their name on the document which will also be available as an electronic petition for the rest of the public to sign, should they wish.

That’s it. The problem is solved now. We can rest and recuperate.

But wait. I am really uncomfortable with the government’s solution as I don’t think it will really achieve anything as they simply do not have the required credibility with those named for the committee already have been noted in that “nefarious report.” And as the government itself does not recognise the existence of the Bandargate scandal, let alone acknowledge its central theme of systematic marginalisation and discrimination against those who constitute the majority of this country’s citizenry. I fear that they will use this committee to justify further spying and to hatch more nefarious schemes. I might be too pessimistic, so forgive me if you feel my suspicions a bit over the top.

The second thing is this petition; while it is a much thanked for step in its sincerity, but just like the much respected “Code of Ethics against Sectarianism in the Press” which was signed by the vast majority of journalists and their publishers, we have not witnessed any reduction of such discriminatory poison in the press – generally – on the contrary, we have seen a clear increase in the dissemination of hatred perpetrated by at least one paper which has mitigated the latest mass demonstrations we saw last week, which in turn prompted these steps by the government and society.

So what’s the solution in my view then? Well, I don’t think that anything will work unless there is a clear and comprehensive anti-discrimination law which punishes anyone and everyone who practices any form of prejudice which is against human values, ones which this government has already accepted and signed in international treaties.

Signing papers and forming committees just don’t cut it any more. In my humble opinion.

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Comments (8)

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  1. I spoke to someone who knows an international journalist who covers Bahrain. Apparently today foreign correspondents were told by the foreign ministry they cannot even allude to the fact that Bahrain has a Shia majority.

  2. Starkville says:

    Jusst read the front page of the GDN – what’s with all these restrictionos on what the press can write? I don’t (can’t) read the Arabic press, and I don’t know if certain columnists have been writing partciularly incendiary missives, but surely the point of a free society and press is that everything is up for criticism, and those who are the subject of it have every right to reply?

  3. Anonny says:

    The free press is a myth everywhere. It’s a great idea but even in the UK you have the D-notice.

  4. Salman says:

    So, this is how they wish to cover it up? Stick some speed tape to cover the incredible hole in our society and paint it so that people cannot notice it?

    Good going!

  5. exclamation mark says:

    Well to tell you the truth…
    Since the government is of a sunni majority…what to be afraid of is :
    this committee will just concentrate on the shiite sect of islam and will end up screening shiite books, lectures and especially those in matam’s…

    And even charge shiite people of just expressing there core beliefs

    Some one would ask me, How do you know ?

    Well past experience has shown that…
    People like al saeedi, Mohd khalid and others from the brotherhood have had their freedom on expressing negative gestures against shia are kept roaming freely…

    Whereas books expressing shiite belief and some are of their core beliefs have been confiscated in the post office – Muharraq bracnh

    experienced it myself…

  6. nhusain says:

    One of the leading Shia clerics has had his passport confiscated. The excuse given is there was a problem with the applicaion etc. Though I am a big fan of the Al-Khalifa government we all can say that 90.00% that this move was due to other reasons aside from or along with the technical reasons mentioned.

    To be a bit more frank they see some Shia groups, leaders etc. as conspiring to take over power. So they seem to be operating with an us against them approach.

    We all know that the government has issues. The opposition needs to unite on the issues that concern every single human being in Bahrain. Rather then simply focus on the grieviences of one single segment of the population. That is how the opposition can bring about an improvement in the overall situation.

    • mahmood says:

      The passport wasn’t just confiscated, but Shaikh Najati and his family have had their citizenship revoked!

      This is very serious and normally countries would only go to this step for very high treason.

  7. nhusain says:

    Apparently he still has the right to travel documents. But he is not allowed to vote or get a housing allowance. Is that true?

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