Parallels in dealing with terrorism

Bahrain is now on fire. Officially. The King has unambiguously unleashed the security apparatus’ hand in “dealing with saboteurs and terrorists”; those who burn tyres in the streets and lob molotov cocktails on all and sundry. Good, said many. “Deal with them with an iron fist” said others, and recently, we’ve had the usual posse declaring their support and loyalty by taking out press ads and even street hoardings such as these:

sectarian-hoardings-bahrain-1

 

When this happens, as we have seen over the last few decades, you can rest assured that the ruling elite aren’t happy and they probably are doing something to appease some criticism, or when they’re possibly threatened that things might go out of hand, or even possibly do the traditional slight of hand to divert attention from something which is happening or about to happen. I’m not a clairvoyant so I wouldn’t know the motivations other than what is plain to see. Could it be to divert people’s attention to the gerrymandering as the elections approach? Where a single vote in a minuscule southern governate equates to 21 in others? Well, I’ll leave these factors to your deductions.

However, things this time – when compared with 2002 and 2006 – have taken a turn for the worse. This time, terrorism charges have been levied against a group of vociferous opposition persons, some of whom have participated in an annual House of Lords seminar in the UK, about human rights and political transgressions in this country. Their reward was to go directly to jail and never pass go.

Of course, when that happens and as they do enjoy tremendous support amongst the disenfranchised, the country goes into a spiral of violence. That is, our own kind of violence – you know, tyre burning, impromptu demonstrations, rock and the occasional Molotov cocktail hurling kind of violence. Nothing really that would lead generally to loss of life. Nothing like what happens in other countries like India for instance, where a minor transgression would result in hundreds dead. But in a supposed affluent country, this kind of “disruption” is a big deal. Some say that it leads to some sort of loss of face, something unacceptable in our culture…

So they get whacked across the head with charges under the Terrorism Law. And soon thereafter, the Public Prosecutor bars any discussion about their cases in the media (all forms of media), something we have witnessed before to be ineffective, but often employed resort.

So, I shall acquiesce to their request and shall quieten my gob.

But before doing that, please allow me to draw your attention to a parallel:

Canada, the lovely country which I’m visiting at the moment for a soon to end holiday, has been rocked over the last couple of days with an arrest of three suspected terrorists. Did you note that I emphasised the word “suspected”? Good. How might you say that they were suspected?

Well, an RCMP investigation lasting 18 months and gaining the required judicial instruments only after showing just cause, arrested three individuals so far and found bomb making material, remote control rigs, books and correspondence to facilitate terrorism acts and the manufacture of explosives. All three have now been presented in court after having lawyers appointed to them and given full access to their clients. Needless to say, as Canadian citizens, they will enjoy the full protection of the law and will be judged and either found guilty or released as innocents. There is of course no question that the media will be barred from reporting on the case, nor have they been held incommunicado.

My friends, we’re not doing ourselves any service by carrying on like this. Making a mountain of a mole hill all the time with and without cause. Sane people should speak to those in power and tell them that the path they have chosen is incorrect and at lease not commensurate with this day and age. That it will be much better for all concerned to release the grip on power a little and share the wealth. That for the sake of the country and the longevity of their rule it’s best to remove the tribal spectacles and include the citizens as true partners in progress. That those who are advising them now are spent and have lost credibility as they cannot integrate into a modern and interconnected world. That we love them and want them to continue. That the only way to do so is to share. That they need to reevaluate their strategy, mission and vision for the country and its inhabitants.

To continue as we have been doing is very trying and tiring and will lead us all into avenues we both won’t like. The chaos that will ensue is not something trivial and will last generations. All that will do is delay us once more from grabbing passing windows of opportunity and to rise to a higher level of responsibility borne out of good governance and accepted civic duties.

Every body I speak to now hardly even thinks of voting. Not only that, most are actually making plans to leave the country. Is this what we want? To live in an actual desert with ghosts? Oppressed and suppressed for ever?

Get things corrected for goodness sake before chaos really ensues. What’s happening now is nothing more than an appetiser of what could be in the offing and I’m sure that none of us looks forward to that.

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23 Comments
  • FYI
    28 August 2010

    how many times has the King pardon them? after alwefaq’s mps go running to him. how many times has alwefaq unsuccessfully tried to stop the hooligans? how many people must die? be burnt alive in their cars for the government to take action. Enough is enough.

    • mahmood
      28 August 2010

      True. Violence is not the answer and only a shared path borne out of democracy must prevail. Everyone is tired of the cat-and-mouse games. Everyone is also tired of this lopsided status quo and the rampant discrimination which breeds discontent.

      Don’t you think that it’s high time that this situation is redressed?

  • Bu Yousef
    28 August 2010

    I hope this gets under control. I wish your lovely little country all the best. We have many friends (and some even have relatives) there 🙂

    Don’t loose hope.

    • mahmood
      28 August 2010

      Thanks bu Yousef, Kuwait – I daresay – is the closest friend to Bahrain in the Gulf. We share a lot and I’m certain that with mutual understanding and will, Bahrain will be okay soon.

  • FYI
    28 August 2010

    the opposition’s methods must change. I consider this post, this blog to have more political influence than burning a tire, or blabbering hatred in a matam. at least someone it reading your opinion and weighting your arguments.

    their message was lost the minute they resorted to the actions of the 90’s. times have changed so must the type of pressure placed on the government.

    • mahmood
      28 August 2010

      I agree. Again, violence is not the answer and dialogue MUST prevail. It’s also not a one-way street, and you can’t expect people to happily give up their rights as in having your vote to equate to less than 5% of your compatriots. That, and many other prejudicial issues which are not addressed give rise to discontent.

      I feel that the political will has all but disappeared my friend. That’s very worrying, don’t you think? With its absence, do you think that a solution is truly in the offing?

      • Nhusain
        29 August 2010

        Foreign labor have little rights are discriminated against and have no clear path to participate in the system. Do you see them burning stuff? The answer is to participate as much as possible through legitimate means.

  • FYI
    28 August 2010

    Until I see a strong pro-reform liberal party I don’t really care about my vote. What’s the point of having them get into power just so they start enforcing their morals and values down my throat? Ban this ban that when would it ever end till we resemble something like Saudi or Iran depending which party wins. Fight corruption and the distribution of wealth is always their first goal, two months later, because of the governments stubbornness and each party’s religious backing, out comes the new and improved agenda.

    If i had to choose between 1: having no political rights only personal freedom or 2: complete political rights while living in a religious state of the winning party where is the light ?

    • mahmood
      28 August 2010

      Until I see a strong pro-reform liberal party I don’t really care about my vote

      Well said, but the problem is that liberal parties are not given a chance to flourish in our societies. They’re a threat to the ruling regimes AND the Islamists!

      Ironically, they hold the solution to our political problems as they are non-sectarian and secular, believe in human rights and personal freedoms and promote good governance. Thus, pulling the proverbial rug from under both current powers.

      The solution?

      I don’t have a sure fire thing, however, I fully support democratic measures and the complete divorce of religion and the affairs of state and think both of these factors will go a long way in establishing our society on an agreeable path. This, of course, will take generations but if we make a start, an honest start, I think everyone will definitely buy in and make the reforms their very own.

      • Nhusain
        29 August 2010

        I have a better solution. Grow your beard and run for a seat in parliament. Or get your liberal friends to do the same. Once in an election in USA. A black guy with an Irish last name ran for a seat in Chicago for some minor position in a Irish dominated neighborhood. And no one knew him as he was not famous nor was the position a major position and people vote on multiple issues and positions at one time. So the story goes that the guy one and then everyone was shocked that a black guy won in an Irish neighborhood. Play politics bro.

  • Ali
    28 August 2010

    In any other country this would be seen as a way to encourage voting for the right wing pro govt. party. But as we don’t have one and voting goes along other lines I too am bemused about this crack down and accompanying posters.

    However, until ordinary folk stand for election and say enough is enough to religion in politics we will continue to live in Tudor Times.

    Prosperity needs a secular and transparent Parliament – Bahrainis deserve better than the last ones. So why isn’t change happening?

    • Nhusain
      29 August 2010

      Ordinary people can’t run without financial backing. So either a rich person runs or the rich person backs someone.

      • Ali
        29 August 2010

        How much does it cost to get your name on the ballot?

        • mahmood
          29 August 2010

          don’t feed the troll Ali!

          • nhusain
            30 August 2010

            Another option would be get someone with significant achievements or famous last name to break this deadlock in the parliament. I’ll throw out two names that may make good candidates. They can even have a webiste to solicit donations for their campaign. The two guys I would suggest are sohail al-gosaibi and salman sharida.

          • nhusain
            30 August 2010

            Another popular way to get someone elected is to get a famous personality or a famous sportsman to run.

        • nhusain
          30 August 2010

          The question should be what is the procedure to get on the ballot. You only need one sensible person to bring about positive change. Look at abdulrahman al-lahem in saudi for example. The money is needed to promote the right candidate. Make flyers, audio visual ads etc. Something maybe mahmood could help out with. Then you would want to see which constituency to run the person in. A good candidate could be a successful businessman with deep pockets or a successful lawyer who can argue intelligently. If the public votes for people with beards though, the candidate would need to be convinced to do so.

  • The Cynic
    29 August 2010

    These rebels are very smart. They won’t attack the royal family directly, cause that would be sure suicide. Instead, they grind us: the people in between.

    They know that we are very peaceful to retaliate outside the law, so we’ll do the only thing we can possibly do: beg the royal family to save our lives. They know that when we beg the people in charge of enforcing peace, we can’t be heard, not in a million years, cause the people in charge couldn’t care less about us when they live safely behind their high-walled castles and well-paid bodyguards.

    This attitude will stir the wrath and finally awake the sleeping giant, and since the royal family is like 1000 or so, and the rebels are countless, guess which ranks would the sleeping giant join?

    You people who live up in the clouds need to throw more food to us, the ones living on the ground, every once in a while, because if we felt enough frustration to invent airplanes, your place is as good as gone.

    • Ali
      29 August 2010

      Don’t forget in the french revolution the middle class were also executed

  • Tariq
    31 August 2010

    Isn’t the disparity between the Sunni minority and the Shia majority of Bahrain the core of the problem? I suspect that for the sake of not alarming their powerful neighbors, i.e. Iran, your monarchy is going about setting circles of entrapment, or so it seems. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    • mahmood
      31 August 2010

      Complex problem which cannot be simplified other than the trust between the rulers and the majority of the ruled seems to have evaporated. They think that they can protect themselves and elongate their rule by subjugating their very population!

  • Ajax
    1 September 2010

    sooner or later absolutest system gonna crack and crumble , it is the 21st century not the middle age.

    might as well seed/share power with the people.

    given the right timing,UK-like system.

    instead of bloodshed

  • Mahmood
    4 September 2010

    its all in the hands of the ruling class, we all know the cause of the chaos , hungry people with no doors on their homes if they have homes, children selling water in the streets, in a small oil rich country with roughly 700k original inhabitants, its plain and simple REALLY LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE give them what they want and peace and prosperity will be everyones to share.
    take the example of our neighboring rich little states dubai and kuwait

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