The Pledge

I spoke before about ways of giving the Just Bahraini campaign teeth, I decided that one way of doing so is getting politicians who are worth their salt to sign a pledge that they will work toward and enact laws which will criminalise discrimination and by definition make Bahrain a better place, a place where all citizens enjoy the fruits of this country without the slightest prejudice, be that against their sect, religion, gender, colour, and the myriad of other matrices and stereotypes people throw at each other.

Therefore, together with friends, particularly Hani Al-Shaikh, we talked about the pledge and formulated the following which has already been adopted by 15 parliamentary candidates (of the National Unity and Wa’ad) and will be used as a blue-print for their parliamentary thrust.

I hereby invite all the other political parties and independent candidates to sign the pledge as well. The end result of course is unity, a One Bahrain, standing resolute against all those with vested interests to turn this country to chaos.

I also invite my fellow bloggers to carry this pledge on their blogs, or link to it on the Just Bahraini campaign site, to act as a central reference point for this movement and write about this pledge in their own words.

What we thought about when writing this pledge are the various areas where there are glaring instances of segregation and discrimination, where it seems that the only provisos considered when filling a position is the subservience of that person to the ruling family and his or her sect; thus, we have an inherent imbalance in the system, an imbalance of the distribution of jobs in the cabinet and under-secretarial positions, the heads of departments, the military, the police, as well as various government owned or controlled organisations.

This, of course, is most glaringly used in the highest positions in the land, where it has become tradition that half the cabinet must be from the ruling family, and the remaining positions are distributed equally between sunni and shi’i ministers.

This is no longer a situation which should be taken for granted, and the government should show enough foresight to break with this tradition. It should only appoint people based on their abilities and proven track record regardless of all other factors into all positions. When jobs become available they should be advertised adequately and candidates should be made to sit aptitude tests for the job on offer, and have direct managers involved in the interviewing process to assign the final candidate to the position, with an oversight committee in the ministry or organisation which ensures that no favouritism occur. This should also be practiced in the private sector too.

Other areas where that discrimination is rife of course is in the security apparatus; both the military and the police organisations are rife with this problem and a political will is required to fix this situation.

This country will not go anywhere while sectarian thinking and favouritism are entrenched. We need to get things to change, and stop measuring people by their subservience to the ruling family. Rather measure them by the services they have and can provide to the country as a whole, and their loyalty to translating the vision of a One Bahrain into action.

Therefore, the pledge reflects these thoughts. Here it is:

Just Bahraini campaign Arabic button
رفضاً للطائفية البغيضة واستنكاراً لإثارة وتأجيج الفتن والخلافات الطائفية، إضافة للتمييز الطائفي والذي يمنع التجانس والوحدة بين الطوائف والأعراق نطالب بالتالي:

    1. العمل على إصدار قانون مكافحة التمييز بكافة أشكاله وبالخصوص التمييز الطائفي.
    2. تشكيل هيئة وطنية لمكافحة التمييز، تعنى بمراقبة تطبيق قانون مكافحة التمييز.
    3. العمل على السماح لجميع المواطنين – من الطائفتين – بالعمل في الوظائف الحكومية – ومنها العسكرية – وإزالة جميع العوائق المانعة لحصول بعض الأفراد على مراكز قيادية في الدولة على أسس طائفية أو عرقية.
    4. التعهد بعدم نشر أو كتابة أو خطابة ما يثير الفتنة الطائفية بين أبناء البلاد ويخل بالوحدة الوطنية.
We pledge and resolve to reject the repugnant and abhorrent sectarianism, and the incitement to fuel dissent and discord between the peoples of Bahrain, as well as the discrimination which prevents sectarian harmony and unity among ethnic and religious groups in our country; we call for the following:

    1. Work on formulating and enacting a law to combat discrimination in all its forms, especially that of religious sectarian discrimination;
    2. Form a national body to fight discrimination and oversee the application of the anti-discrimination law;
    3. Diligently work to ensure that all Bahrainis are given the opportunity to work in government jobs, including the security forces, regardless of religious affiliation, and the removal of all obstacles to the appointment of Bahrainis to leadership positions in the country;
    4. Do not publish – in any way, shape or form – articles or speeches which sow sectarian sedition and discrimination between the citizens of this country and prejudice national unity.

Comments

  1. Post
    Author
    mahmood

    None Mohammed, PayPal only accepts one way transactions from Bahrain… I’m investigating others. Fortunately for us Bahrain is small and you could easily get to a place where they can keep donations for me to collect, or just give me a call and we’ll arrange to meet.

  2. Akkad

    For it to have teeth really, the proposed law (whatever you want to call it) must have two features: –

    (1) to make it a criminal offense to partake, abett, aid or counsel the D word. And then to establish harsh punshment for offenders and a mechanism and body, that ensures wide-scale, prompt and effective compliance. I suggest a body, like that which exists in the the UK for purpsoes of Consumer protection.
    The body should be vested with such executive powers as imposing fines up to certain, lower limits – any more severe punishments would be up to the DPP and courts.

    2) Becised, the new law should establish a mechanism, which must be effective aand far reaching for there to be affirmative action until the imbalances reach some form of equitable balance. The law should require there to be established short and longer term objective targets to be reached. It should mandate regular reporting and monitoring and there to be formulated policies and measures which bring about the said objectives. The reporting has to be made not only to the Cabinet but also to the Legislative and the HM the King. Different intervals of reporting can apply to these authorites. So Cabinet would receive on shorter intervals, followed by the Legislative and least by the Throne.

    If we are serious, we need such measures. If we are not, what are the theatrics and extra costs of the facade of ‘democracy in Bahrain’ about?

  3. JK

    That all is already in the Bahraini Law anyway.

    – Work on formulating… : That is already there.

    – Form a national body to fight discrimination … : the court should be enough!! and the Law is already there!

    – Diligently work to ensure that all Bahrainis are given the opportunity to work in government jobs … : Maybe work on implmenting that one.

    – Do not publish – in any way…: Duh?! another publishing law! you already felt how it was and you went thanking everybody in the ministry for their “Cooperation”!! Publishing Laws should be at least “open” the same at what UN says. Monitoring and Punishing should go to court!

    وكأنما تمخض الجمل فولد فأرا

  4. Akkad

    JK, your point are well taken, even though your conclusions may not be right. For one thing, the law and the courts are utterly inadequate. There should be Law Enforcement too. Without it the Law is not worth the cost of writing it.

  5. Post
    Author
    mahmood

    Of course the constitution and current laws include all of the points raised. What we want to do is just re-affirm and hold candidates to these points specifically.

    Have a look at the bottom left of today’s Al-Waqt’s page 2 (site is down at the moment) in which the soon-to-be-right-honourable-MP Abdulhaleem Abdulla Murad of the Asala bloc categorically states that he will not include any anti-sectarian tones in his program, meaning that he is either ignoring (at best) or practicing sectarianism (at worst) and you’ll probably understand where I’m coming from, and this is just one single incident.

    It makes one think that this country shouldn’t really be called “two seas” but “two lands”.

  6. Akkad

    I like these editing tools (quicktags and smilies) that you have in your Den and wish to have them in my own blog. First, do you mind? and too, how can I put them there? coz I am new to the blog tech.
    Thanks a million.

  7. Post
    Author
  8. sillybahrainigirl

    Mahmood.. I don’t know if it is me or you got this query before.. but I can’t upload the Just Bahraini image on my blog.. ma adri waysh el salfeh khooook?

  9. Post
    Author
    mahmood

    linking to images is not allowed to the sites (conserving bandwidth) hence the best way to do so is to download the graphics of your choice to your own computer, then upload it to your own server, so that you can treat it as a “local” graphic.

    You CAN directly link to the images on Flickr though, just go to “all sizes”, select the size you want, right click on the image and select “view image” and that will result in the actual image’s address on the address bar, copy that and use it as your image source and you’re done!

  10. CharlesWT

    “This should also be practiced in the private sector too.”

    As long as persuasion, not coercion, is used to encourage the practice[of no favoritism].

    “It should only appoint people based on their abilities and proven track record regardless of all other factors into all positions.”

    “Becised, the new law should establish a mechanism, which must be effective aand far reaching for there to be affirmative action until the imbalances reach some form of equitable balance.”

    These two goals will often be in direct conflict.

  11. فاطمة البحرانية

    ما أدري ليش الناس يقفزون فوق الأسباب

    عقلية الحكم قبلية بدائية ولا يمكن أن تقبل بكل ذلك

    أن تقبل بدولة حديثة فيها وطن ومواطنين ومساواة وسيادة للقانون الأمر ضد العقلية القبلية العنصرية البدائية التي تحكم البلد

    الولاء عند القبيلة هو للقبيلة والدم ولا ولاء للإرض

    والوطن يجب أن يقوم على الولاء للإرض ولكل مافي الأرض

    فهنالك تناقض بين عقلية القبيلة وبين الدولة الحديثة

    فمن المستحيل أن تقوم دولة حديثة تحكمها قبيلة

    السبب الإساس هو العقلية القبلية ولنكن واضحين في توجيه السهام نحو العقلية القبلية

  12. Post
    Author
    mahmood
    فاطمة، كلنا نعلم عدم قبولك بالحكم و هذا من شأنك، فلا داعي للتكرار رجاءً. و نعلم كذلك أن عندك ممبرك الخاص فالرجاء اللجوء إليه و عدم ملئ هذه الصفحات بتلك الإسطوانة فلن ترين مجيب أو متعاطف بهذه الطريقة.
  13. Ibn

    Mahmood,

    I want to point out that we must not get carried away and try to correct current discrimination, with different discrimination.

    Idealy, we would want both government and the private sectors to hire people on merit, irregardless of sect/race/religion, etc.

    For the govrernment, this must be forced. But for the private sector, it would be wrong to force “quotas” for them – ultimately one is free to associate with people of any race/religion at his/her own discretion, and forcing quotas on them would be wrong.

    The only way to discriminate against hiring people based on race/sect, is, well, to stop hiring people based on race/sect.

    Just wanted to throw that out.

    -Ibn

  14. CharlesWT

    Ibn,

    You have just listed some of the things that went wrong with efforts in the US to end discrimination. =(

  15. Post
    Author
    mahmood

    I’m not completely onboard as far as forcible quotas in employment, but am firmly in the camp that only merit should be considered for any job on offer be that in the public or private sectors, this to me will aid in our competitiveness and efficiency.

    I’ve got to think about the quota issue more to arrive at my own conclusion, however I cannot but condone the thinking that at least the police and military forces should be quota based by opening up their employment to correct their glaring imbalance of sectarian distribution at the moment…

  16. Ibn

    I’ve got to think about the quota issue more to arrive at my own conclusion, however I cannot but condone the thinking that at least the police and military forces should be quota based by opening up their employment to correct their glaring imbalance of sectarian distribution at the moment…

    Yes Mahmood,

    I think for the police and the military it is going to be tricky … we need to correct the imbalance there, probably through quotas in the beginning, but then phase that system out, once a balance has been achieved. Then, simply criminalize and make it illegal to hire/fire based on sect/religion in the government.

    CharlesWT,

    If you say so. I do not know enough about the US’s history vis a vis discrimination in this case to make a statement. 🙂

    -Ibn

  17. CharlesWT

    Ibn,

    Freedom of association is supposedly enshrined in the US constitution. But laws and regulations override this freedom to advance the goals of social engineers.

    Classes of people who were previously discriminated against are now protected classes. If an employer does not have the approved mixed of protected classes in his employment, he can be sued for discriminated even if no actual discrimination has taken place.

    Property leasers and service industries face similar difficulties.

  18. Bandargate

    We fully support you in this Mahmood. I would like to clarify for those who undermined this sort of effort, that this is not related to constitution or laws. It is , however, concerned with creating a popular awareness and commitment among society members. This awareness is the driving force behind a healthy change in our society.
    May I suggest amending the 3rd point of the above pledge so that it becomes not restricted to the government sctor only? Equal opportunity in employment should not be restricted to the government only. Besides, the real growth in employment is in the private sector.

  19. Coffee Lover

    But why is everybody picking on the Military and the Police Force? Why not look at the other side of the spectrum, Ministries of Health, Electricity, Power, Works, Industry, Municipalities, Batelco, Alba, major Commercial Banks, all towards employment of followers of the Shiaa doctrine. Why is it that they are never mentioned? All serious employers …..

  20. Post
    Author
    mahmood

    Fair enough, equality of employment should also be institutionalised in those sectors too.

    My personal interpretation is that the police and military represent psychologically much more than a “job”, it is the honour of serving one’s country by physically defending it, and as that honour is restricted to just the Sunni sect, the Shi’as look at it as they are sidelined because the government/ruling elite look at them as untrustworthy to be in those positions.

    It’s all part of national pride.

    As to the ministries you mention, I have seen statistics before which suggested that the vast majority of jobs in government are in fact skewed toward the Sunni sect particularly. I seem to remember Al-Wasat publishing statistics about the occupants of government jobs too some time ago, I am sure we can dig those stats, so if someone has solid and substantiated stats, please share them.

  21. Bandargate

    Let’s not be dragged to Shi’as/Sunni discussion. here is a copy and paste of point 3 above:

    “Diligently work to ensure that all Bahrainis are given the opportunity to work in government jobs, including the security forces, regardless of religious affiliation, and the removal of all obstacles to the appointment of Bahrainis to leadership positions in the country; ”

    Coffee Lover:

    Why are you against with this paragraph? Are you happy that our security forces being run by expats while unemployment rate is above avarage? Besides, who talked about Shi’as and Sunnis here? We are basically calling for elimination of such terms when it comes to equal opportunities and rights : JUST BAHRAINI !

  22. jasra jedi

    CharlesWT,

    The US has a much better system of recourse .. you have Courts and Laws and Rulings that address the issue of unfair discrimination.

    In Bahrain, we dont have the right surrounding legal, employment structure in place. Hence, afirmative action/quota policies are not such a bad idea to adopt as a temporary measure until the necessary surrounding legislation/implementation is in place ..

    Politically, Lebanon has a quota system in terms of the Speaker, the Prime Minister and the President. I dont know whether it works, but it may be better than any other alternative. Bahrain needs to readress its cabinet. Truth be told though, I would like to see more women there first ..

    Complicated …

  23. فاطمة البحرانية

    أنت إذن لا ترغب إلا بسماع صوت معين ولا ترغب بسماع غيره , لنقف عند الشاطىء فإعماق البحر تؤذي
    :yes:

  24. Hassan Ali

    فاطمة البحرانية
    صادنة صداع فى الراس من كتاباتكي ومراهقتكي ومزايداتكي السياسية, قفي علي الشاطى لوحدك فنحنوا مع صديقنا العاقل والوطني والمثابر محمود اليوسف اما اعماق البحر فانتي لا تزالي صغيرة علية ولا تعطي نفسكي حجم اكبر من سنك وخبرتك فالمثل يقول
    تمخض الجمل فولد فأرة

    :grinnod: :grinnod: :grinnod: :grinnod: :grinnod: :grinnod:

  25. CharlesWT

    jasra jedi

    “Hence, afirmative action/quota policies are not such a bad idea to adopt as a temporary measure until the necessary surrounding legislation/implementation is in place ..”

    The US’s affirmative action/quota laws and regulations were set in place as temporary measures about 30-35 years ago… =|

  26. Post
    Author
    mahmood
    فاطمة، أنا لا أمانع سماع صوتك البتّه! تأنيبي هو لدفعك من الخندق الذي حفرتيه لنفسك الذي منه لا تبالين بغربته، فقط لا غير. كل ما قلته أن كل إعتراضاتك من لحظة دخولك المدونة تتشابه و سمعناها مراراً و تكراراً. ألن يحن الوقت للخروج من هذه الإسطوانة المخدوشة و تأتينى ببيّنة أخرى؟

    هيا، جزاك الله ألف خير… فنحن على إنتظار أحرّ من الجمر.

  27. sillybahrainigirl

    😆 Thanks for the technical advice. And your Arabic is not bad walla. It’s just that some of the words are too Arabic for our (or rather my) ears!

  28. jokesa

    Mahmood
    I am surprised there has not been more reaction to the last item of the pledge:

    “Do not publish – in any way, shape or form – articles or speeches which sow sectarian sedition and discrimination between the citizens of this country and prejudice national unity.”

    Anti-discrimination laws may be brought in for very just reasons, but it would not be long, I fear, that such a law could be used against legitimate opposition and differences of opinion. How many prisoners of conscience are there around the world who have been sentenced for “prejudicing national unity” or similarly trumped up charges?

    This is a very dangerous part of the pledge, which (as JK has already pointed out) undermines everything you have been arguing for on freedom of the press. To work, we would need a totally independent police, prosecution and judiciary. Are you confident they fit the bill?

  29. Post
    Author
    mahmood

    Thanks, I see what you mean and I’m amenable to rediscuss the pledge in order to make it better, but obviously not to water it down. The main premise I think is understood, we just need to translate it and firm it up some.

  30. Ibn

    CharlesWT,

    The US’s affirmative action/quota laws and regulations were set in place as temporary measures about 30-35 years ago

    Temporary? Are you sure? I dont think so, but like I said, I am not familiar with the history too much.

    Jokesa,

    Anti-discrimination laws may be brought in for very just reasons, but it would not be long, I fear, that such a law could be used against legitimate opposition and differences of opinion. How many prisoners of conscience are there around the world who have been sentenced for “prejudicing national unity” or similarly trumped up charges?

    Precisely Jokesa! I wanted to mention this to you too Mahmood, but someone else beat me to it. 🙂

    Freedom of speech has many facets, and it is those facets that often get confused and warped. I think this is a summary of them:

    1) Freedom of communication.
    2) Direct threats.
    3) Slander.
    4) Incitement to violence.

    Now I will admit, number 1 encompases 2, 3 and 4. A faulty argument I have heard many times before when argueing with beardies is that “Well its illegal to threaten someone right? Thats speech right? Therefore this type of _insert_ speech must be banned too!”

    What they dont realise is that 2, 3 and 4 are subsets of the whole, 1. So let me first lay out what must not be protected. What is left, is what must be protected:

    I think 2, 3 and 4 must not be protected, for the reasons outlined below:

    Threats must not be protected, because they inform one of an action to harm them, albiet, a delayed one. When you threaten someone, you are informing them of your intention to do them bodily harm, or destruction of property, etc. Thus, “I will kill you” must not be protected speech.

    Slander I think is a little tricker because it involves reputation. More to the point, slander involves the falsification of ones reputation. Why is the falsification of ones reputation important? It is important because it has the potential to harm ones interaction within his society, which would previously not have been harmed, had his reputation not been falsified. The easiest quantifier for this is money. How much monetary impact did a falsification of your reputation cause you?

    I think that if there is enough evidence that slander has caused an individual (or company) a loss of capital purely based on that someone falsifying their reputation, then it must be prosecuted.

    Incitement to Violence. Well, this is very tricky. Very tricky indeed. I think in its simplest case, incitement to violence is when person A, tells person B, to go and kill person C. Its like case 2 with threatening, only person A has not told you he is coming after you to kill you. He has told person B to kill you, and you are oblivious to this fact. In both cases however, there is an intent to kill. (Or intent to perform violence, dectruction of property and violation of your rights). So if it can be proved, that someone has in fact incited others to harm you, (as in threatening), then it should be prosecutable.

    That I think, just about covers it. So what it protected speech?

    Take “Anything that can come out of your mouth” minus the above, and that is what you have a right to say. And that includes offensive speech, calling people names, comedy, argueing with government, dissenting, etc.

    -Ibn

  31. Post
    Author
    mahmood

    Jokesa, Ibn, how would you then word article 3? It’s a bit late for me (just back from the premier of A Bahraini Tale by Bassam Al-Thawadi – more later) so work on it while I sleep!

  32. CharlesWT

    Ibn,

    “Temporary? Are you sure? I dont think so, but like I said, I am not familiar with the history too much.”

    Well, that was the argument at the time. That the protections would be rescinded when a balance was reached and they were no longer needed. But, over time, new classes have been added to the whole and the definition of an agreeable balance keeps changeling. Also, the protected classes are voting blocks who’s votes politicians buy by keeping the protections in place.

    You’ve made some very good points about freedom of speech. I wish US law more closely matched your argument.

    One good point in US civil law is that truth trumps slander. I.e., you can’t successfully sue someone for slander if they are telling the truth about you. Also, public persons have less protection in civil law from slander than do private persons.

Comments are closed.