I bet you have all heard of the various ways candidates resort to in order to get their names and mugshots noticed; as anywhere else in the world, parliamentary and municipal candidates in Bahrain also offer bribes, buy votes, give gifts, refurnish houses and apartments, activate whatever wasta (influence) they have to ensure that their “customers” get their names pushed up the priority list for housing and other benefits if they can, and/or simply offer copious and unending supply of food at their electioneering headquarters. That last method is actually quite hilarious when you see people (and I am told most of those are non-voters, being Indian labourers etc) pushing and shoving others aside to get to the head of the serving queue at the end of the guys interminable speeches.
Where things differ in Bahrain, are two new methods, one pioneered specifically by the Salafis I think, in that they have leant from their compatriots’ Shi’a and their ma’atems experiences, is to sponsor and bring out preachers – some well known from – wait for it, wait for it – that land of tolerance, the land of the benign smile, and miswak: Saudi Arabia, where they spread their poison and stress to those attending (not sure if they are supporters or they’re actually just there for the food) that they should vote exclusively for their patron, and at the same time spread their poison against any and all opponents, especially if the opponent is a woman or worse, a Shi’a candidate!
Another very new and a most novel method is the creation of your very own vice posse to go around the flats and houses in your neighbourhoods catching prostitutes (arabic) (or who they believe are prostitutes) and take them to the police, under the guise of “cleaning” their areas of sin. This new method is pioneered by a Adel Al-Assoumi who is running for the first constituency of the capital covering Gudhaiybia and Hoora, with the full support and knowledge of clerics who have lauded his efforts in their Friday sermons, and even composed short text support messages which were transmitted to mobile phones.
Now there you have it! I must commend the people of Hoora and Gudhaiybia for such an honest, dutiful, straight and vigilante candidate. The “good” thing is that he says that regardless of his chances in the elections, he will continue with his posse even they are done and dusted. And what does the Ministry of Interior’s – the protector who never sleeps so that we can – comment about people taking the law into their own hands as they clearly allegedly are in this case?
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They’re encouraging people to continue to lodge complaints, blow whistles and point fingers, but not to take any further action as that is their sole domain.
Fair enough, that makes for a safer society, but what will the Ministry do to Adel’s Posse? Will they disband it, slap him on the wrist, or take him to court for clearly breaching several laws (and not forgetting those preachers who should also be slapped and told – once again – not to interfere in the elections?
No idea, but I’m not holding my breath.