We seriously considered buying one of these lovely houses. It fits our needs perfectly: large plot, nice garden, swimming pool, 5 bedrooms, huge living room area, dining room, servants quarters, big garage, excellent finishing and design. A dream home that anyone would wish to live in for the rest of their natural.
It’s been on the market for more than a year now, and no takers. We didn’t get it because of two main reasons: 1. location, 2. over-budget.
1. The location is in Duraz, just outside the village. Throughout the 90’s in Bahrain Duraz was (in)famous for its resistance movement and it still is. The residents are quite religious, or at least this is what they want to be famed for, ultra-conservative, and led by a plethora of “mullahs” and various religious figures.
So we knew that had we bought the house, we would be right in the middle of “troubles.”
As I’ve documented here before, it has become the fashion in Duraz to gather after prayer and go out on a march or demonstration. The causes they’re championing? Take your pick: Palestine/Israel, morality issues in Bahrain, concerts, release of prisoners, cars back-firing as they’re driving past the village, alcohol availability, a goat that dropped her kid because of that car back-firing… basically, they’ll create a cause as they go. It has become their form of entertainment.
2. Budgetary constraints prevented us from buying it. The initial price quoted was BD 180,000 (US$478k). The whole row of houses apparently were sold to a Saudi investor (I’m not sure about this) and suddenly their quoted price jumped to BD 250,000 (US$ 663k).
The houses stood unoccupied for more than a year, except for one which was very recently rented to an English expatriate and his young family, hoping to enjoy the house and its various facilities.
That was until last night.
The family decided to throw a Halloween party for the children, so they prepared pretty well for the party, completely made over one of the rooms as a “haunted house”, hired a DJ, invited some 50 or so people, but also made sure that the music played in the garden wouldn’t be loud to respect their neighbours, the closest of whom was a compound some 500 meters away, and the village is about 1.5 – 2 kms far.
Being new on the island, he did ask some of his Muslim colleagues at work if they anticipate any problem with him throwing such a party, they collectively encouraged him to go ahead with it as it’s completely up to him. In order not to hurt his colleagues’ feelings, he discussed the issue with them and sought their understanding that he would not invite them as he is sensitive to their feelings as it is Ramadhan and they’re fasting. They gave him their full blessing and wished him well and for the children to enjoy themselves.
The party started, everyone was enjoying themselves until a crowd of villagers (about 50 or so) gathers in an area opposite the house and a leader was dispatched to the house to voice their demands: “cancel the party as it was Ramadhan, get everyone out of the house, else he will gather more than 1,000 people to ensure that their demands are met.” They gave him 15 minutes.
The leader of this gang is described to be in his 40’s, soft spoken, but a fanatic non-the-less for it is he who delivered the unveiled threats. Others in the crowd (they were from 6 years-old children to adults) were a bit more vociferous in their demands and gesticulations didn’t leave anything to the imagination should the demands not be promptly met and also delivered a sermon about Bahrain being an “Islamic State” and this is Ramadhan, the most holy of months to Muslims, etc.
Much to the guy’s credit, he kept his cool and did what this mob wanted him to do. He canceled the party much to the children’s and other guests displeasure and asked everyone to go home.
Just imagine the terror these people who are guests in our country must have felt. Imagine the surprise, the displeasure, the uncertainty and fear for their lives as well as for their children’s as they were leaving the house heading for their cars and the drive back to their homes.
Imagine also what their response would be when the time comes to renew their contracts. Imagine what would happen to the property market when suddenly we wake up and find that supply has now become much more than demand. And when people stop building because there is nobody to house. Imagine the skilled and unskilled labour – most of whom are Bahraini – lose their jobs in the property market, and a lot of other industries because they can’t run. We now have estimates of some 30,000 unemployed in Bahrain. I expect that to quadruple in a few years thanks to the religious leaders and Islamist MPs.
The crowd grew to more than 100 at this time, and some people leaving the house reported that they were threatened that their cars would have been torched had demands not been met promptly.
Personal freedom in Bahrain? Not a chance. If something is not done to alleviate this situation pretty darned fast by the government, parliament and everyone else concerned, we know what the future will hold for these islands.
The question has to be asked though: why did this mob feel so empowered as to impose their will on a family and their home? Who instigated this mob to gather and harass a person doing nothing against the law of the land? Why didn’t the village leaders intervene and disperse the crowd and explain to them that it is not their right to terrorise law-abiding people regardless of their origin? Where are the leaders of the “Al-Wefaq Islamic Society” as it is their hot-bed of support in Duraz and every other village on the Budaiya road to educate these people in what’s right and what’s wrong as far as freedoms are concerned? Why didn’t the government’s security apparatus do anything about this?
It seems to me that as time goes by, personal freedoms, choice and now the sanctity of homes are completely transformed from known and agreed upon descriptions to those that what mobs make them as.
If nothing is done about this… there’s much more to come.