It’s over, an islamist parliament is complete

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All but one of the liberal candidates have not made it into the new parliament, which has a distinct Islamist feel to it: 17 Wefaq (Shi’a), 8 Minbar (Muslim Brotherhood) and 5 Asala (Salafis). That’s 75% of the make-up of parliament, but when you look closely at the rest, only one is liberal, and the rest have distinct Islamist leaning, one of those actually (Jassim Al-Saidi) is so extreme, even the Asala bloc cannot afford to publicly state that he belongs to them!

So we are left with Aziz Abul to carry the flag of non-sectarianism and moderation.

But let’s give them all (again) the benefit of the doubt and see what the next four years have in store for us.

What makes me a bit more hopeful this time is that it looks like a proper parliament; the whole of Bahrain – virtually – entered the race and chose their representatives without a call for a boycott other than the Haq party, and they do not account for a big majority. What also makes me optimistic about this parliament is that Wefaq have gone with with a clear and declared agenda, and have chosen their people wisely with a good cross-section of technocrats too. Other than that and by virtue of them being run like a proper political party, they have a full back-office to support their efforts in parliament. That back office has access to political scientists through to businessmen to advise them on proposed legislation and budgetary discussions etc.

So, even though the liberals did not make it this time and hope that they will have a much better showing in the 2010 parliament, I am sure that this parliament will be a much more effective one than the one just finished.

I hope they do not destroy the little optimism there is by going into sectarian fights which will benefit no one.

The things they should concentrate on now is the cancellation of the restrictive plethora of laws their predecessors brought out like the unconstitutional gathering and assembly law, terrorism law and also redo the press and publications law to encourage and protect the freedom of expression as well as increase the level of personal freedoms.

Good luck Parliament of 2006. The people will be watching you.

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26 Comments
  • can we talk now
    3 December 2006

    look on the bright side..
    the glass is 2.5% full.

  • chrisamillion
    3 December 2006

    I like your post, sort of a congratulatory-optimisitic-ominous-warning!

  • chrisamillion
    3 December 2006

    sums things up quite nicely

  • Maverick
    3 December 2006

    Well spoken Mahmood.

    They also need to take care of the following.

    Make compulsory minimun wage for all, not only Bahrainies. They must also set a hourly wage rate like is western countries. This helps laborers to have a basis to claim wages.

    Laws relating to maternity leave must be made common to all not only civil service employees as this is discriminatory and goes against the constitution and basic human decency.

    Basic education, sports, home science, civic studie, science and technological education must be made compulsory.

    Family law based on fairness to all must be implemented, not on sharia which can be misinterpreted as and when it is liked.

    Scrapping of the slavery/sponsorship/property law which makes expats slaves and property under the right hand possession of their sponsors.

    Opening up the economy by allowing expats to import and export without a sponsor.

    Encouraging and educating Bahrainis with civil education, home science, thereby making them them less reliable on maids, street cleaners etc. Why can’t a Bahraini bake his own bread or clean his streets?

    Encouraging companies to open up their shares for sale or awards to their employees as incentives in case they cannot give raises. This will make the employees shareholders and give them incentive to work harder for profit and prosperity.

    Just some ideas to ponder with the morning coffee.

  • Hussain
    3 December 2006

    Start the count down clock to kick their butts out!

  • anonymous
    3 December 2006

    بنجوف Ùˆ بننطر بس بصراحة ما توقع اي شي يذكر راح يصير …. الا بالعكس من الحين ناطر الهوشات Ùˆ المسلسلات الخليجية اللي بتصير في المجلس Ùˆ التصريحات الغريبة العجبية …. بس احلى تصريح في البرلمان اللي فات تصريح وزير العمل …. يالله الله يوفقهم 🙂

  • Bandargate
    3 December 2006

    Unfortunately, I see the results as a major setback to reforms in Bahrain and the region. The government of Bahrain has sided with islamic extremists and insisted on dividing the socity into 2 religious blocks. I would say that opposition has won 18 seats while government gained 22. Therefore, since the government is controlling this parliament, in addition to the appointed superior one, I see no one to blame for malfanctioning of this process in the future except the government. No one to be blamed for lack of freedom of expression, restricting liberties, increased secterian tension, etc, except the government of Bahrain.

    Maverick:
    The points you’ve recommended are valid and were mostly adopted by the opposition candidates (liberals in particular. ) However, it’s now up to the government and king of Bahrain to adopt any of your recomendations.
    All lines of power are now concentrated in the hands of the king, his son, and his uncle.

  • mahmood
    3 December 2006

    Bandargate I’m in complete agreement with you. I am at a loss as to why the government behaved in such a manner to ensure the liberals’ defeat. I really do not understand the motives. My thinking go along the lines that with a strong and nonsectarian parliament you would get a strong government. A strong government is the bulwark of stability. Stability begets longevity of rule.

    So why side with those who will ultimately be the most potent tool to the royal family’s demise?

    Yet, we have those who mock the liberals’ defeat rather than demand a day of mourning!

  • nurox
    3 December 2006

    There’s a strong political motive behind pushing out the liberals, in short it helps place the opposition party in a corner that represents a specific sect or school of thought. Hence if (not when, i’m trying to be optimistic) things go wrong, it’s easier to throw the blame around. It’s unfortunate really.

  • Tariq Khonji
    3 December 2006

    I think its interesting that Abul won even though he seemed to have spent much less than his rivals on his campaigning, at least as far as billboards is concerned.
    His main competitor Abdul Hakeem Al Shemmary had huge signboards depicting him holding pens and what not to make him look educated, etc. Abul for the most part had these teeny tiny signs stuck on little poles on rocks. And the mug shot of him, frankly, looked kind of funny (reminded me of Groucho Marx). Its good to know that money isn’t necessarily the deciding factor in Bahrain.

  • mahmood
    3 December 2006

    But it is.

    Abul is a known entity supported by not one, but FOUR political societies and was running against a moron who no one liked. Look at the difference in votes: 70/30. Hakeem is a known fake. That’s not to say that the Minbar “General Voting Centres” MPs are not fakes too, but they have the direct government unlimited backing, to the extent of mobilising both Mohammed Khalid and Saidi to go preach outside of their normal authorised limits, in this case Arad and Muharraq in order to continue to label the liberals as heretics (they didn’t mince words) and encourage people to vote against them, rather than for the other candidates.

    Dirty campaign indeed.

    And today we have Al-Moawdah coming out and praising them for slagging people off, yet the Ministry of Islamic Affairs are as silent as a tomb for people using their properties to preach hatred.

  • nurox
    3 December 2006

    Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

    M I A for short,

    what other phrase does that acronym remind you of? ;0)

  • TEXAS
    3 December 2006

    nurox BAHRAIN

    Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

    M I A for short,

    what other phrase does that acronym remind you of? ;0)

    MIA:
    Missing In Action
    MIAmi

  • Staci
    3 December 2006

    Great post! I can always rely on Mahmood for information that the press leaves cryptic. I just read an article about the second-round elections and was confused about the term “Islamist” versus the sectarian breakdown… really wanted to hear WHICH parties won and what the overall breakdown was via Wefaq, Minbar, etc. So, thanks Mahmood. After living in Bahrain (last year), I find that I miss it dreadfully and so this blog really gives me a “Bahrain away from Bahrain.” For my blog on my experience in Bahrain, go to bahrainmassemail.blogspot.com

    Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone has any comments on how much cooperation goes on between “Islamist” parties that are Sunni and Shi’a. In other words, does the conservative orientation trump the sectarian issues?

    And what does it all mean? I suppose that is the ultimate question… but how much of a “setback” for liberalization of the country is this? If Wefaq manages to address the needs of the Shi’a community to have more (political, socioeconomic) opportunity in the country, then perhaps that is progressive?

  • can we talk
    3 December 2006

    Tariq, Abul is a well known persona, nationally. every knows what he stands for and he is not sectarian at all. and yet if you look at the numbers, from the general stations he only had 72 cmpared to his opponent’s 327 (less than a quarter), whereas he had local 2426 to his opponent’s 1084 (more than double) so he kept his win. the other guy is not as well known an entity. so there may have been some ineffective pressure here as well. the numbers just didn’t stack up.

    as for encouraging a dead-locked bipolar parliament, could this be a way to create a self-destructive body? keep them busy bashing each other’s heads and out of trouble, while the masterplan continues? what’s more, sectarianism would be the culprit.

    another possibility is that although the issues liberals will want to discuss will be ethical in nature, they will want to investigate things preferrably kept under the carpet. our liberals are less likely to have complete allegiance to any party, so they will be uncontrollable. they need people there who can be managed and pressured if it becomes necessary. candidates with an achilles heel are far more attractive to the powers that be than those without one. I can see how rogue members who will stand up for what they believe in regardless could be very discomforting. the pots they could stir…..

  • zodiac
    4 December 2006

    A shame .. :no:

  • zodiac
    4 December 2006

    btw did u see the flood in muharraq .. it was describing the shameful acts ..

  • Anonymous
    4 December 2006

    To answer banderagate and Mahmood,
    The reason the government made sure the liberals do not get elected by manuipulating the votes in the “general” voting centers is to not get Sheikh Ali Salman elected as speaker of the parliament.

    In the first round, they let AlWefaq enjoy their victory with their 17 seat victory. They also didn’t dare to meddle (manipulate) with AlWefaq votes since they didn’t want a huge public outcry.

    In the second round, they managed to completly remove the liberals from the parliamnet by meddling with the general voting centers vote counts. Ofcourse they favored meddling with the liberals since their outcry and protests will not be supported by a huge national protest since the liberals’ popularity base is small compared to the Shia’s and the Sunnis.

    This all makes sense, since, if ALL the liberals managed to get elected to Parliament, including (Ebrahim Sharif, AbdulRahman AlNaimi, Munira Fakhro, Abdul Aziz Abul, Sami Seyadi), and the unsuccessful Wefaq Candidate who lost in the 2nd round, Mahdi Abu Deeb; the opposition would have had 23 seats in the parliament thus having a complete majority, having their sway in major decisions, being able to consitutute major reforms in many pending issues + (which is possibly the most embarrassing to the government out of all), electing a major oppositioin leader who was kicked out of the country in 1994 to be the next speaker of parliamnet! This if actually translated in reality would be something unusual in the history of Arab nations!

    I hope that by 2010, the nation would finally get rid of this racial sentiment and this Shia’a sunni differentiation breaking up our country. I also hope that by 2010 that the citizens would realize the competency of the liberal and opposition members and would elect them by majority in 2010.

  • nurox
    5 December 2006

    I wasn’t surprised when mansoor aljamri spoke on alarabeya and said “the opposition should be getting around 15 seats, but to think that they’ll get 20 or over, under the current situation, they’d need “i3jaz Ilahi” (Let’s just say a miracle). And we still kept our hopes up going into round two!

  • Anonymous
    6 December 2006

    Look at this new post at the ****** so called Sheikh Mohammed Khalid.

    In this song, he makes fun of the liberal opposition candidates (the left) and calls them infidels and many other pethatic names!! A so-called Sheikh would be more mature than to even think of releasing such a song.

    http://www.q8forever.com/audio/sound10.rm

    Look at how he is celebrating his victory in Hamad Town. He looks like a teenager after a soccer match and not like a Sheikh:

    http://boammar.com/we_win/16.JPG

    And you ask what’s the difference between him and Sheikh Ali Salman!!??

  • mahmood
    6 December 2006

    nobody doubts his moronity! But couldn’t we pay that guy driving to slam on the brakes?

  • mahmood
    6 December 2006

    On a much more serious note, read what columnist Lamees Dhaif wrote advising him on how to conduct himself in parliament in yesterday’s Al-Ayam.

    Excellent advice for sane people.

  • can we talk
    6 December 2006

    “A so-called Sheikh would be more mature than to even think of releasing such a song.”

    what do you mean he released it? what was his part? the producer, the promoter, the agent, the recording artist, what?

  • can we talk
    6 December 2006

    what did i tell you? generally speaking, the shura is more confidence-inspiring than the representatives. yes there are a few question marks and a few mutes but overall not too bad. at least we can expect some intellectual discussion.

  • chan'ad
    6 December 2006

    @canwetalk: the song is the background music on his official website. go here and wait for the music to load: http://boammar.com/index.htm

  • can we talk
    8 December 2006

    very mature. words like “lecherous” and “distasteful” come to mind.

    poor ammar.

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