Shame on you Bahrain TV.

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If there is ever a reason for shutting down the joke that is called “our national television”, then it’s their broadcasting a “crawl txt message” in their ticker describing the majority of the country’s population with a completely offensive and derogatory word.

At around 1.30am this morning, their ticker tape included the word “rawafidh” according to a tweet by Amira Al-Hussaini:

Disgusting! #Bahrain Television showing sectarian messages, where the Shia are called ‘rafedha’ and it seems acceptable! [link]

The messages Amira was talking about are those which appear as a crawl at the bottom of the screen like a ticker tape:

@mahmood I was watching TV at around 1.30am when my I spied with my eyes those text messages at the bottom of the screen #Bahrain [link]

I know those systems intimately, we sell them and have even sold a few to Bahrain TV in the past! I can tell you categorically that NO message appears there UNLESS an operator approves it. If it was put into an automatic mode, then the output is delayed by a few seconds upto several minutes or more in order for the operator to scan the messages before they are posted. There are some features available there as well to automatically scan a dictionary of bad words and reject the messages containing those words completely. So having such a despicable word actually appear on TV is either gross incompetence OR a deliberate result of someone allowing such a message to go through on air. On a National television channel whose population’s majority are rightly offended by the broadcasting of such a derogatory and offensive word.

Never mind that those very population are completely and utterly ignored as non-existant by this so called “informative organ”; when was the last time you heard a Bahrani accent uttered on that screen – other than to make fun of them of course – or even heard the Shi’a Athan being broadcast? Isn’t 70% of the population worth having their call to prayer marked? The sad and shy attempts at having a couple of programs broadcast during Muharram don’t count. Having a few pet-Shi’a so called clerics appear on their illustrious screen doesn’t count. We should have total inclusion in this public facility, or else, allow us to start our own TV and radio channels without harassments and without the repressive and impossible rules put in place to prevent such a thing from ever happening.

Incensed. I immediately fired a Tweet to the country’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Al-Khalifa (sadly, I intended to also tweet his majesty’s media adviser Nabil Al-Hamar but I mistyped his moniker):

@khalidalkhalifa @alhamar RT @JustAmira: Is it BTV’s policy to call the shia of #Bahrain ‘rawafedh’ now? [link]

I was seeing red.

Fortunately, the gentleman responded soon thereafter:

The foreign minister Shaikh Khalid Al-Khalifa responded:

Totally intolerable .. Btv should pay attention to such stupid incompetence or else be closed and sent to Hell #Bahrain [link]

I wouldn’t expect less from our straight talking foreign minister. He is a gentleman by the true sense of the word and know that he loves the country and everyone in it. Others in positions of power should follow his example.

The resolution to this incident cannot be anything less that firing the person in charge of that ticker tape when the incident happened and fire their immediate supervisor. The TV station, its motives and modes of operation must come under review, and proper integrated programming must be funded and broadcast on that channel catering to ALL the people of Bahrain, rather than a simple minority. Cultural sensitivity training must also be enacted within that organisation. Multiculturalism in that corporation – I know from first hand experience – is imbalanced to say the least.

I would also suggest that you write to the Head of Television, Mr. Fathi Mattar to register your disgust and complaint and ask him to ensure that this kind of situation never happens again.

You can reach Mr. Fathi Mattar at [email protected]. Your email might include the following:

    Mr. Fathi Mattar,
    Head of Television
    Bahrain Radio & Television Corporation
    Po Box 1075,
    Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain

    Dear Mr. Mattar,

    It is with extreme concern that I have came to know of the broadcasting at around 01:30AM on 30 August 2010 on your television channel's ticker tape of an extremely derogatory word describing the Shi'a community as "rawafidh". This does not only disgust me, but does so too to the hundreds of millions of Shi'a Muslims around the word. Especially as we near the end of the Holy Month of Ramadhan, the very month which has been blessed with the inception of Islam - the inclusive religion which we all ascribe to and one that teaches us to love one another as a basic tenet of its belief system.

    Sir, let me remind you that as you run the only television and radio channels in the Kingdom with in-house production and broadcasting facilities, it behoves you to be careful of your messaging and your duties. This country of ours has been a haven of multiculturalism throughout its history, something we are very proud of. However, irresponsible incidents like this will give rise not only to rightful anger, but also will lead to the fueling of hate which might give rise to turmoil, something I am sure you will not want to see happen in our kingdom.

    I urge you to take the necessary steps to ensure that incidents like these never recur on your television and radio channels. You are also strongly advised to instigate multicultural sensitivity training and programs to your staff in order for them to know their responsibilities and to properly evaluate what constitutes acceptable and non-acceptable behavior.

    The persons responsible for this morning's incident must be administratively punished in order for them and others within your organisation know that what they have allowed to happen is wrong and should never be repeated again.

    I trust that you will do the right thing.

    Sincerely yours,

    Your name
    contact details

    Do the right thing.

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28 Comments
  • May
    30 August 2010

    I think that one must ask the question why this is happening. all this cannot be a coincidence. I believe that there are certain people in Bahrain trying stir up all this rage within the two sects for a reason I am not sure of yet.

    + we can’t forget… the elections are around the corner

    • nhusain
      31 August 2010

      The solution of the sectarian impasse is to offer the foreignors the option to become Bahraini citizens regardless of their religious affiliation.

  • FYI
    30 August 2010

    more from BTV to come Mahmood lol, they just published in the 8pm news photos of ten of the perpetrators. i don’t sympathize with them; but everyone should have rights. where is innocent till convicted part?

    http://www.bahrainforums.com/showthread.php?t=663312

  • nhusain
    31 August 2010

    Maintaining sectarian harmony is extremely necessary. All minority groups should have a fair chance to get to positions based on merit. As far as athan is concerned since it is a divisive issue it should be removed all together from the TV. There should be more dialogue on TV between the sects so that people can make their own informed choices. The 70% number thrown out there however seems a little off. If there is any reference for that, it would be nice to see.

  • Bu Yousef
    31 August 2010

    I agree entirely. I will send the email. I know I’m focusing on the wrong thing here, but I just have to say it:

    I’m so impressed that your Foreign Minister is on twitter and that he responded 🙂

  • Ali
    31 August 2010

    I suppose the ticker would be blocked. That what exactly happened to my my site 🙂

    http://www.facebook.com/ali.araj#!/photo.php?pid=5098555&fbid=443310799192&id=510389192

  • The Cynic
    31 August 2010

    Since when did we need hints to notice the discrimination happening against Shi’a?
    It has been, and will always be, as clear as the sun. It has been there all along, and of course, sometimes something has got to give, and that something was the ticker mishap.

    We know everything, but we can’t say it out loud, because we don’t want to disrupt the calm surface of the lake. Worrying that we might accidentally bring down the house on our own heads in the process. Live and let live, my friend.

    If I don’t talk about it, it doest mean I don’t know the discrimination is happening. And we can also see clearly the self-preservation measures the Shi’a has taken in reaction. If you can’t see them, ask around and you’ll be enlightened about these counter-discrimination measures.

    Anyway, what really amazes me is that nothing major has really happened to raise this discrimination issue. You would think that 70% of the population (as mentioned above) would actually have the final word whenever they want, which may be interpreted in many ways: weakness, cowardice, being a minority, aggravators.. etc.

    They talk and talk, and when they are tired of talking they talk it over again. Stop talking cause no one is listening. Has anyone ever negotiated your demands, or even responded back in a respective manner?

    If yes, then I wish you the best of luck in your further negotiations.
    If yes, but the response was not promising enough, then what are you going to do about it?

    If not, then why on earth are you still talking?

    If you have the simplest decency and minimum self-respect, you’d know that you only have 2 options left:

    One: is live and let live.
    Two (I don’t recommend, but only as last resort): what was taken forcefully won’t be returned by other than force.

    By the way the childish hide-and-seek they implicated our youth in, serves no purpose, and will never lead to anything achieved. If you want your voices heard don’t send children to say it for you. Unless your too pathetic to even stand by your cause.

    “Of course, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.”

    • mahmood
      31 August 2010

      I think Dr. Abdulhadi Khalaf published many articles and books explaining this phenomenon.

      Basically, no system can maintain its structure without the active participation of at least some of the influencers in the country. This, we have aplenty in some of the Shi’a families in Bahrain.

      I don’t think that the phenomenon could be simplified completely just by this particular factor, but it is certainly a mainstay.

      But I contend that the status quo above worked in days gone by, now, with the complete connectiveness of the world and the country, and with the rise in voices, the world is taking notice and it is that factor which must influence change for the better.

      So talking now, on the Internet through various media and in the “real” world, does and shall make a difference.

      People want nothing more than be treated with respect.

    • HR
      5 September 2010

      ur ass bitch. u dont know shit of what they are going thru late6la3 feeha, faggot bye:)

      • mahmood
        5 September 2010

        Thank you. This kind of hatred – from impressionable children – is a direct result of the current situation in Bahrain. Is this really what they want? civil war next?

  • Tariq
    31 August 2010

    In one of my previous visits to the island, I was urged to apply for a Bahraini nationality, which would be concurrent with my Saudi one. When I asked why, I was told that as a Sunni Saudi I was a preferred choice and my applcation would be immediately approved, the implication being that numbers count, and the ‘rafideen’ have to be checked by at census board, once Sunni numbers were up. Arent they all Bahrainis, I wonder?

    • mahmood
      31 August 2010

      In 2003 or 4, I received a call from one of my clients in Jeddah who asked me to please speak with their office boy as he has important serious questions which he would like ascertained.

      I swear by the lives of my children that he asked me if I can sponsor him to come to Bahrain so he can apply and collect his passport. The gentleman was from Yemen. I respectfully declined.

      On several occasions passing through many airports in the Gulf, I was asked by immigration officials on presenting my passport whether I was a “real” Bahraini. A few offered that I should join the Foreigners queue as they can no longer identify “real” Bahrainis.

      This is what it has come to my friend.

      • nhusain
        31 August 2010

        The officials manning the Gulf airports have serious behavioral problems. Actually the more professional ones are the Bahraini officials. The whole issue is how you define a “real” Bahraini. You should be proud that your country is open minded enough to allow “foreignors” to become part of their society. That is how societies become successfull.

  • nhusain
    31 August 2010

    I don’t see a problem with this except that you should have some link to the country such as a job, relatives or owning a piece of property for example. Opening up the citizenship will bring in foreign investment etc hopefully bringing jobs to everyone.

  • Anonny
    1 September 2010

    “You should be proud that your country is open minded enough to allow “foreignors” to become part of their society. That is how societies become successfull”

    Oh really?

    Tell that to the Japanese. Or the Chinese, for that matter.

    nhusain, I cannot help but feel that you are desperate for a Bahraini passport. I don’t blame you, I’d love to have one too, but not if Bahrainis did not want me to have it.

  • Moahmmed
    1 September 2010

    I hate it when someone is trying to categorize people in such offensive way .. and I feel that after the recent political issue this month; a lot of people started to look at a Bahraini group as they are criminals and killers. It is because some of the government officials thought that by running a campaign against burning tires can strength the government side of story. YOU are dividing the country, and somehow I am not worry about mature people but I worry about the young of Sunni and Sheaa kids, I worry that they start to hate each other and because of such campaigns Sunni and Sheaa kids starts to build a wall of hate !!!! We are one nation stop this black comedy and let us go back to the years before 2000 where we hardly see the word Sunni and sheaa in the press or hear it in our homes.

    sorry for my bad English, I hope that I have at least made my idea clear ..

  • Ahmed4u2
    1 September 2010

    I agree with u that defatory word should have not been used. It is highly offensive and stupid to that.
    but ur comment about “the Shi’a Athan being broadcast? Isn’t 70% of the population worth having their call to prayer marked”. with all do respect they are not 70%, stop saying that, it is not true and for u to say it is misleading.

    • mahmood
      1 September 2010

      Thank you Ahmed4u2. If we agree that in a democracy the rights of the minorities MUST be protected while the majority rules, even if you assume that the Shi’a in Bahrain are the minority, don’t you think it is their right to be recognised?

      As to your contention that the Shi’a are not 70%, well, would you like to offer a substantiated percentage?

  • Ahmed4u2
    1 September 2010

    well mahmoud, i like to think that there right have been recognized well enough. I don’t think they are been treated as the kurds are in Turkey, or even the Sunni’s in Iran.
    The opposition, like Waad, wefaq, Haq say that the goverment has nationalised 30,000, so them saying that shia are 70% doesn’t make sense, does it. I would like to think that sunni’s who are Bahraini are 30%,non Bahraini Sunni 20%, other Expats 20%, and shia about 30%.

    • mahmood
      1 September 2010

      You might “like to think” that, and it feels too cruel to disabuse you of the notion of alternate and much fancied reality, but when you get the facts straight come back to play with the big boys. Until then, I wish you very happy dreams!

      • Ahmed4u2
        2 September 2010

        my facts are straight, it’s ppl like u who call for freedom of speech, but can’t really handle an opposing view, who need to wake up and stop spreading ur poison. the problem is that sunni’s are not as intrested in politics in thiscountry as shia (who abuse the worship place for their objective unlike the sunni’s), but when the sunni wake up remember this country will change, just wait for these election.

        • mahmood
          2 September 2010

          Back up your figures.

          And lose the tantrum.

  • Ajax
    1 September 2010

    honestly, i don’t see what wrong with that word ?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafida

    those how reject evil…

    or is it just because the BTV admin is sunni’s?

    the way how nigers is offensive when a a white person say it(but not when black say the word) ?

    • mahmood
      1 September 2010

      What’s wrong with the word is that it is used in a pejorative manner which is very offensive.

      If you don’t find it offensive, well you have that privilege, for the vast majority of the Shi’a, it is. Especially when it is used specifically to insult a whole cast of Muslims.

    • Nhusain
      3 September 2010

      If the person on the receiving end of the word finds it offensive then it’s offensive. In these times we have to be careful not to offend as much as possible.

  • Anonny
    2 September 2010

    Ahmed4u2,

    It isn’t about what we “would like to think”. It’s about reality, and how we can all work together to improve our reality.

    Speaking as a foreigner, I understand the sectarian difference from my years of reading and discussion, but I don’t respect the sectarian hostility because I think it is tiny-minded, provincial and above all cheap.

    Mahmood has worked and is working with Bahrainis both Sunni and Shi’i: people who in the main are successful and productive, who have left sectarian differences behind and have contributed towards a better, more prosperous Bahrain. Have you done this? Once you start working harder and becoming more successful this sectarian melodrama will probably become less important.

  • exclamation mark
    2 September 2010

    I’m not surprised at all… And I knew for sure that two bodies of the govt are heading towards this kind of policy, the ministry of Islamic affairs, and the ministry of Information. And what is mentioned above is just a tiny bit, remember that people like Othman Al Khamis and Adnan Al Ar’ur, men that are know for there sectarian extremism , and preachers like AbdulKafi and others had been invited to Bahrain in recent years.

    At the other end, several books talking about Shiite beliefs and thoughts had been also banned in Bahrain – a complain I heard from some book publishers – and this is noticed in the Book fairs conducted, and as a sign of this Iranian book publishers had not present in the past couple of years in the book fairs conducted.

  • smon
    23 February 2011

    Well werent they mentioned that alrafeda hum al qawm aldaloon and they were spoken of them in the Quraan and Sunna?

    So stop complaining, or else convert.

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