Bahrain, post-Nancy

October 22nd, 2003 is an historic date for Bahrain and in a lot of Bahrainis’ minds they will remember events henceforth as pre-Nancy and post-Nancy. MPs, particularly the Islamists, should also take note of this phenomenon as it most certainly has determined their future within the democratic establishment and society.

So far we have not heard an apology from these MPs who instigated the riots, on the contrary, they – particularly Adel Al-Moawada, got further entrenched in his views with threats of a repeat performance any time a singer gets invited to Bahrain to perform for whatever function (Al-Wasat Newspaper, October 25th, 2003, page 6) he goes on to further distance himself from the riots defending his actions as a child would have after striking the match that burnt the house down. In his mind it is still a clear cut issue: “prevention of vice and promotion of virtue” and it is his God given right to “defend the faith”. Not stopping for a second to contemplate that democracy is an encompassing process that takes into consideration other people’s views, and his job is to uphold and defend our infant democracy.

This demagogue is joined by many of his ilk evidenced by the various Friday sermons, but they, to the modern thinker in any case, represent all that is dangerous to these islands of ours. Zero tolerance for the others views.

What’s next? Shut down all forms of entertainment and sports? Roll back the clock and live by paraffin lamps, dates and in camel-hair tents ruled by an elite class of religious junta? Create a cadre of religious police with sticks to go around enforcing their views of prevention of vice and promotion of virtue? Maybe we should also have another national referendum to change our country’s name to Bahrainistan?

I take pride in Bahrain’s centuries-old heritage as a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural cosmos built on the respect of other people’s views and religious beliefs. I also take pride in Islam as a modern religion where no person is forced into Islam by force, nor get Islam’s views imposed. I take pride in the great strides we have taken towards the road of democracy. I take pride in my ability as a citizen to have a say in the way the government is run. I take pride in my ability to elect my parliamentary representative. I take pride in the various people who have voiced their opinions about this subject in the local papers and internet fora regardless of whether their views coincide with mine. But I mostly take pride in being able to write this article without fear of persecution.

If we as a nation don’t take a firm stand against these extremist views and show these elected representatives that they are indeed being watched, then there is no hope in the future. We also have to take a firm stand against the saboteurs who terrorised innocent people and destroyed the peace and property and not allow the government to treat them with a soft hand, nor accept that they be released by pardon. They should serve their term in the hope that they will realise their error and think twice about responding to such incitement in the future.

In the post-Nancy era, we have to seriously consider the separation of religion and politics as the events and responses of the past few days clearly demonstrated the kind of polarised society we live in. For some people personal freedom and choice is paramount, while to others it is restricted and governed by their own ideology. The only way to guarantee tolerance and personal freedoms is patently obvious. It is this that the parliament should concern themselves with rather than frivolous matters like permitting veiled women to drive or allowing Nancy to perform.

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9 Comments
  • anonymous
    26 October 2003

    Bahrain, post-Nancy

    Even before the events of the last week there must have been questions about the commitment of the country’s Islamic radicals to democracy. Last year we had Al-Wefaq, the Shia Islamic radicals, trying to strangle the parliament at birth by calling for a electoral boycott (fortunately ignored by the majority) in the hope of depriving it of legitimacy. Now we have the Sunni radicals of Al-Asalah showing their commitment to democracy by inciting thugs to riot when they don’t get their way in parliament.

    But in the rather gloomy aftermath of the weekend’s riot, it should be remembered that – perhaps surprisingly – the majority of Bahrain’s MPs distinguished themselves when they struck a blow for liberty by flatly turning down Al-Esalah’s hysterical attempt to ban Nancy Ajram.

  • mahmood
    27 October 2003

    Re: Bahrain, post-Nancy

    I might be wrong, but it seems to me that the majority of MPs are not taking a firm stand with these Islamists for fear of being labeled as “kafirs” (non-believers) etc, or feel intimidated by them.

    A large proportion of news reports and analysis of the parliament sessions are dominated by Islamists’ declarations, yet we hardly hear of any other work that is proposed by the other MPs. Is that by design? The media inflaming feelings? Or is it truly the case that most sessions are almost hindered by the Islamists narrow view of what’s right and wrong? Or is it the Islamists beating their drums whenever they get a small victory like the law allowing veiled women to drive.

    Yes I know that they have been discussing transparency, naturalisation and other subjects, but as these issues take a long time to percolate, the Islamists concentrating on simple emotive issues, ergo handed easy wins.

    It also seems to me sometimes that parliamentary work is actually conducted through the national papers rather than the parliament! A few figures like to see their pictures in the papers I guess.

    Maybe if they had a website detailing their work, the darkness would be lifted. It might also be a good idea if members of parliament started their own sites or weblogs so that we the people can actually see what’s going on.

    I am really happy with their stand re Nancy, an intelligent man would now think twice about presenting a bill to parliament to attempt to restrict personal freedoms. But I don’t think this will be the case, as the Islamists agenda is to convert the country into an Islamic state regardless of what we, the public, want.

  • anonymous
    30 October 2003

    Bahrain, post-Nancy

    It seems like you echo the feelings of most of us Bahrainis.Well done for putting it on the net.

  • mahmood
    30 October 2003

    Bahrain, post-Nancy

    Thank you for the affirmation.. I know that most Bahrainis feel almost as I do, and I hope that more Bahrainis like you would comment and make your voice heard… the dnagerous thing is leaving “them” a free reign as all “they” hear is their closed-minded followers views.

  • anonymous
    16 January 2004

    Bahrain, post-Nancy

    After the riots one religious extremist I know – a supporter of Esalah – told me of how he approved of the riots, but said that when Elissa comes to Bahrain he hoped the rioters stay in doors so he could attend her concert in peace.

    Well this week Elissa was billed to take part in this week’s Gulf media awards in Bahrain, but she’s said no, and considering the treatment given to Nancy who can blame her? As for the Esalah supporter, he’s deeply disappointed, but as with any of these extremists can’t manage to make the link between cause and effect.

  • mahmood
    16 January 2004

    Re: Bahrain, post-Nancy

    Sounds typical. Now not only Elissa won’t perform in Bahrain, but Mariah Carrey too. She’s limiting her appearance to Beirut and Dubai. Pity.

  • Abyrlkme
    25 June 2008

    But you are say, that this idead is bad?,

  • victoria
    26 June 2008

    Mahmood

    you wrote this back in 2003 ,,, and it ties in with what jade wrote just recently under the ´correcting a wrong´post

    If we as a nation don’t take a firm stand against these extremist views and show these elected representatives that they are indeed being watched, then there is no hope in the future. We also have to take a firm stand against the saboteurs who terrorised innocent people and destroyed the peace and property and not allow the government to treat them with a soft hand, nor accept that they be released by pardon. They should serve their term in the hope that they will realise their error and think twice about responding to such incitement in the future.

    I think you are doing a fantastic job speaking out against intolerance and exposing injustice !!… you are deffinately not one of the cowardly silent majority of so called peace lovers that jade mentioned ,,, .. your courage is an inspiration to us all !!
    >

  • mahmood
    27 June 2008

    thank you Victoria.

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