Wall of WHAT?

I know I know, I’m a glutton for punishment. That’s why even while on holiday, I can’t help but follow the news in Bahrain; but then I give myself a break and some hilarity by reading the Bahraini local papers online and chief amongst those providing me of some merriment of course are the sycophantic Gulf Daily News and the incredibly unimaginative and obsequious Daily Tribune. I tend to not look at Akhbar Alkhaleej, Alwatan or Alayam unless I feel that my blood pressure is on a low side that particular day, leaving my edification of all things news about my little spit of a country to international online sources of repute.

As to the “noos”, it’s no surprise that all local papers are leading with something or another about the forthcoming by-elections, with a continuous articles and bylines “encouraging” the electorate to go to the ballot boxes and submit their votes. The areas affected of course are those vacated by the Al-Wefaq 18 who were responsible for over 187,000 voters accounting for 48% – 65% of the eligible electorate, depending on who you talk to.

I use the term “encouraging” with poetic license here of course, because all I’ve read so far does not entice voters to participate, but threaten them almost with ex-communication if they don’t! The regime, not unsurprisingly, wants this “political experiment” to succeed, or at least give the impression of success; hence, they seem to be using their usual mouth-pieces and threat of arms – as in police protection to voters – to do so.

The “encouragement” is somewhat contradictory though. Consider this from the Al-Mahmood who intriguingly called for the dismissal of the reigning prime minister – one of the ubiquitous red lines the country is filled with – only to now make concerted and continuous efforts to retract those statements by espousing even more extreme – and sometimes farcical – positions, like this one for instance, to probably compensate for his error in judgement, ehm, sorry, the Washington Times misrepresenting his statements:

A total of 187,080 people will be eligible to cast their ballots during the September 24 election being held to fill seats vacated by members of opposition group Al Wefaq. Authorities have pledged to do their utmost to safeguard voters and candidates after several candidates said they were threatened by groups opposed to the process.

Dr Al Mahmood condemned those who were seeking to pressurise Bahrain’s silent majority in the name of religion or sect.

Okay… strange that a cleric opposes using religion for anything, it’s their stock-in-trade and the reason for their existence in any case.

Quoting the Quran, he said Muslims must cherish the values of uprightness and probity while assuming their duties towards their well-being and that of humanity. [source]

Ah, that’s better! He’s quoting the Quran. So it’s okay for him but not for the others. I understand.

I don’t particularly care what any cleric says in regards to pluralism and democracy because we already know their positions intimately. What I do care about is the position of the state in this; if it censures one cleric for meddling in politics, why doesn’t it for this guy as well? Or is censure only reserved to those who oppose it?

As to participation in any elections, isn’t my decision whether to vote my democratic right? Why then all these shenanigans with ministers, other officials and paid-for journalists continuously harping on, threatening, urging and cajoling us to do so? My suggestion to all of them is to simply leave us alone to practice the democracy they’re so hung up on and be prepared to accept the free and unfettered result of our actions.

Getting people to believe in the democratic process and be active participants in it do not require all these machinations. All it does, is having a fair and equitable platform off of which we can leverage the powers of democracy to better ours and the country’s lot. Those don’t include threats and a concerted effort to lay the blame of your failures on your opposition.


  1. nouf

    Seriously mahmood, when a cleric tells you it is a sin to participate while another encourages it for the greater good who is abusing their religious status? And who should be cencored and who shouldn’t? It’s a shame that you cannot seem to find the word “consistency” in the thesaurus you’ve so obviously worn out by now. So interesting that you’ve fleetingly mentioned the unfairness of sh. Isa Qassim’s letter pretending not to care for religious opinions yet you feel it important enough to compare. Whatever your position is towards these elections, if you want to do some good you should use your large following to champion change in a positive manner and not incite more indifference towards a democracy in the making. BE RESPONSIBLE!

    1. Post

      What a ridiculous notion Nouf. Your anger is misdirected as well as being misinformed. Whatever “large following” I may have, it is minuscule compared to the two protagonists here, both of whom should most definitely be responsible. I resolutely think that Al-Mahmood abused his copiously position while in this case, Qassim has been rather consistent. So deal with it!

      1. Tanya Degano

        “copiously position” ?

        I’m available for private tutoring in basic grammar and writing skills. We’ll leave the vocabulary lesson for another time.

  2. milter

    Isn’t the bottom line of this subject what kind of interpretation you assign to all the buzzwords?

    Most people with a basic knowledge of this situation know that words like “dignity”, “freedom”, “responsibility”, “accountability”, justice”, “righteousness”, “women’s rights”, “human rights” etc., etc. are being flung vigorously at us from those with a hidden agenda.

    Most of those words have become popular as a result of the texts and principles of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Some countries found these texts contradictory to their religious texts and defined their own interpretations in the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam.

    As long as a big majority of voters, scholars, teachers, journalists, writers, opinion makers, school textbooks, religious leaders, politicians and all the rest of those that form the backbone of a country, as long as they don’t openly support the first version of “human rights”, that’s how long your present situation will continue.

  3. Bahraini

    How very endearing.
    Calling Bahrain a little spit.

    I resent that comment.

    1. Post

      Just like Nouf, I’m not responsible for your rudimentary vocabulary. Both of you, go read a book to increase your breadth of understanding, and when you can do better than spell your own names, come back and debate.

  4. Yaqoob's Dome

    Mahmood, we all know that Ayatollah Isa Qasim is a highly revered cleric in Bahrain, and whatever he says goes and only the incredibly stupid or incredibly brave can go against his word or even try to discuss with him.

    Because he is such a highly regarded and influential person in Bahrain, his words can be highly misinterpreted and become dangerous.

    Sh. Isa Qasim in his “pre-letter” Friday sermon supported the call for boycott (which is OK by all means) and went ahead and said that anyone who does run in the elections doesn’t represent “the street” nor has anything to do with “the street”.

    We all understand what he means by the “street” being Sh. Isa Qassim the spiritual leader of Al-Wefaq, with the “street” only consisting of Shia “believers” who look towards the (Faqeeh) for religious and political guidance. Using a sentence like “you have nothing to do with us” can be misinterpreted as You are not a Shia Believer and are the scum of the Earth hence the rise of violent language and threats towards several candidates (some now are ex-candidates), and I only pray that none of the remaining candidates don’t get physically assaulted for their stance.

    In regards to Al-Mahmood’s sermon, I strongly suggest that you don’t get the gist of it from the rag called the GDN as the quote you put from the article doesn’t exist in the transcript of the sermon, where the sermon was predominately about Lailat Alqadr and Zikat Al-Fitr, a very vanilla flavoured Ramadan Friday sermon and only gave the subject of the by-elections a few minutes before he called for prayer.

    From the sermon transcript:

    سقط حاجز الخوف عن الكثيرين الذين كانوا يخافون من بطش وسطوة بعض المتسلطين على رقاب البشر وأقدارهم باسم الدين والمصلحة الطائفية فيوجهونهم حيث يريدون أو يسكتون على مضض ، فرشحوا أنفسهم رغم التهديد والوعيد والتخوين والتكفير ، ووراء هذا خير كثير بإذنه تعالى .
    لهذا فإننا ندعوا للمشاركة في الانتخابات بكل الأصوات التي لها حق التصويت وتملك نفسها وتحب الخير لهذ البلد ، ولا يضرنا تنكب البعض عن هذا الطريق ، فالله من ورائهم محيط ، ونسأل الله لنا ولهم الرشاد والتمسك بالطريق المستقيم ، ومن بعتصم بالله فقد هدي إلى صراط مستقيم.
    اللهم كما أهللت علينا رمضان بالخير والبركات فتقبله منا وتقبل صالح أعمالنا ، واجعلنا من عتقاء هذا الشهر الكريم


    If you’re interested in what Sh. Al-Mahmood says in his sermons, please refer to the @TGONU handle as they tweet his sermon on Friday afternoons or in the papers on Saturday (Akhbar Al-Khaleej and Al-Ayam usually publish the whole transcript untouched)

    As for Mohd Khalid and Jassim Al-Saeedi, they’re hardly influential and suggest people to file court cases against their Traitor/Rafidha nonsense. The latter had been stopped from giving sermons a while back and hardly know what he says in his current sermons whilst the first (@boammar) is just trolling on Twitter and retweets parody accounts thinking they’re the real thing…Fa they’re hardly dangerous nor should be compared to Sh. Isa Qasim in political influence nor knowledge.

    1. Post

      Hi Yagoob, and thanks for providing the excerpt of the sermon as it confirmed the passage I quoted in English:

      المتسلطين على رقاب البشر وأقدارهم باسم الدين والمصلحة الطائفية


      والتمسك بالطريق المستقيم etc


      We all understand what he means by the “street” being Sh. Isa Qassim the spiritual leader of Al-Wefaq, with the “street” only consisting of Shia “believers” who look towards the (Faqeeh) for religious and political guidance. Using a sentence like “you have nothing to do with us” can be misinterpreted as You are not a Shia Believer and are the scum of the Earth hence the rise of violent language and threats towards several candidates (some now are ex-candidates), and I only pray that none of the remaining candidates don’t get physically assaulted for their stance

      is not a correct interoperation and I disagree with your conclusion. While I know that some (and by all indications those some are a minority) are proponents of Wilayat Al-Faqih, most of the Bahraini Shia are against it as has been repeated time and again by Al-Wefaq and other activists. So your alluding to that is a misnomer.

      As to you making the “faithful/believers – مؤمنين” as referring exclusively to the Shia or again alluding that Isa Qassim specifically means them alone is far from the truth. I’m not a fan, as you well know, but truth be said, that’s putting words in his mouth and then believing them.

      Because he is such a highly regarded and influential person in Bahrain, his words can be highly misinterpreted and become dangerous.

      By only those who are indeed incredibly stupid or brave! His words are laser-like in that particular speech, if they’re not laser-like, then they do not leave much to the reinterpretation.

      Mohammed Khalid and Saidi are influential. Didn’t you see the number of people they brought out time and again in their support and see them just sitting there like happy morons while they both spout their vitriol? What kind of human being just sits for that shite and not get up and leave just to register an objection? They both, and many many others in our lovely little island are contributing to the strife, and as long as they get the support from the higher-ups by posing with them directly after one of their fierce attacks, leaves not doubt to the imagination of how the country is being polarized.

  5. Bahraini

    My dear friend,

    It is very easy to confuse your usage of spit. Bahrain is an island so even with “poetic license” it can’t qualify as a spit (which by definition has to be connected to land). If you used spit to describe Qatar for example the geographical reference would have been obvious.

    Cheers and happy eid.

    1. Post
  6. Jons

    Why are religouis leaders interfering in a democratic debate anyway? Why are people listening to them? If the opposition want to seperate religion and politics why do the have a spiritual leader? Same can be asked to the pro government suporters.

    The more clerics interfere, the more sectarain things become.

  7. Ba7raini

    So instead of simply using the word “island”, the author opts out to use “spit”?!
    When I am asked to tell a little about the kingdom of Bahrain, I shall say it’s a small “spit” in the middle of the Arabian Gulf. lol


    1. Post
      1. Ba7raini

        You would have a long way to actually contribute to my “edification” or enlightenment in any way Mr.Al-Yousif. I knew what the word “spit” meant long before I started reading your blog.
        This particular incident, however, brings this question to mind: why would a lot of current Arab writers-like yourself, choose to use words like “Apothecary” instead of pharmacy, or “plethora” instead of a lot or even “spit” instead of SIMPLY saying island?! 🙂
        Do they think it would actually contribute to the advancement of their society’s levels of sophistication?! wouldn’t you think it would simply render the piece or “article” incomprehensible or should I say “sibylline”?!
        We have all watched some, if not all, of your vlogs, never once have I heard you utter words like “vitriol” or “cajoling”. So why use them when writing?!

        Your take on the issue would be highly appreciated.


        1. Post

          Fair enough. Let me explain.

          When you write for the eye to read, one adopts a different style than when writing for the ear to hear. Hence the difference between the two media; written posts and viewable vlogs.

          Regardless; though, my choice of words is mine alone and if one objects to me using them simply because they’re unfamiliar with them then tough. Understand that it’s really not my concern nor is it my interest to defend my use of a word, phrase, sentence or idiom against another. This is my style and I shall continue to use it as I see fit. This is not belligerence, but a simple statement of fact. As I said before, it’s really not my concern that some people’s vocabulary is challenged, to those I once again suggest they open their minds before they let their righteous vitriol to take over. I’m not going to change my style, nor dumb it down just for their benefit.

  8. Tanya Degano

    Also, Bahrain doesn’t qualify as a spit….nice try though…better to be geographically accurate than to try to use fancy words

  9. Anonny

    Tanya, are you going to address the topic any time soon? Your sentence construction is far too poor for you to promote yourself here as any kind of proof reader.

    1. Tanya Degano

      Again, I’d like to remind you that I’m willing to give lessons in basic grammar and sentence structure.

  10. Anonny

    Again and again we see that religious affiliations are the deciding factor when it comes to people’s political beliefs in this region. Forgive me for generalizing, but in general it’s true.

    Is there any support from the Quran or Hadith for the Western-style separation of house-of-worship and seat-of-rule? I hope so, but I’d like to be sure. Anyone?

  11. John Heiser/Habib Al Ahkdar

    Not for the Hadith. Most are false, and basically are the root of inequity in Islam. I have seen Hadith side by side with conflicting answers to the same question answers to the same basic question, a question that can have only one correct answer, yet they are all judged to be “Good” and “Correct”.. The three which both me the most are all Sunni. Two deal with age. Mohammad is given three different ages at death. All are correct. Aiesha is given three different ages for her marriage ot Mohammad, and again, three different ages for whe4n the marriage was consummated. Again all of this conflicting data is deemed good. Forget about what outsiders think, let us talk about those who teach these falsehoods.One more example also judged as “Good” and “Correct”. Aiesha is reported to have said the Mohammad told her he only has vision when he is inside or underneath her robes, or in other words, only when he has sex with her.This is scandalous. The only Arab leader in recent times who had the courage.to stand up to these falsifications of Islamic Tradition, was Gaddafi. His avowed enemies, who with the help of nations like France, Italy, Britain, and the United States, all of who have committed major crimes and have committed genocide against Muslims, the total death toll, in the tens of millions over the years, have now put these falsifiers of religion in power. Are all blind? Already more than two thousand surface to air missiles are missing, These groups are Kharajite. Be they Al Qaida, Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, or any of a collection of several dozen groups that claim to be religious, but, are refered to time and time again in the Qur’an, as ‘Mustakhim’ or hypocrites, those who ally themselves with evil and work against those who are truly in Islami(In submission to Allah), these people seek to prologue conflict. They care not for those who suffer. They live for blood, and call it Jihad, when an y good scholar knows that Jihad is the struggle of your soul, your spirit, and of all your ability, to teach others to follow Allah, not to hate it. Gaddafi, had too much influence too long. His sons should never have been elevated above any other. That is the cause of the separation of them and many Libyans. Those who would seize power are neither secular, nor truly religious. Islam has been made to look bad again. Am I the only one who heard Israeli accents in the early news reports. Ask yourself this. How many Arabs can say people with a ‘pe’ sound instead of ‘be’. It really was that simply. I am ashamed of Muslim scholars, that the4y missed such an easy one. I waited in vain, for a pronunciation, that even those who have resided abroad for twenty years cannot loose. Yet ALL of the so-called Libyans, from Benghazi and other towns, said people just fine. There are other words too.It only took that one. Can we agree to disagree. Like Nasser, Gaddafi made some serious mistakes. His emotions, those of an uneducated country boy, were 100% for Arab unity, and not under him. Islam has has separation of Mosque and State before, It worked well until its enemies made common cause to bring down these states and kill those who believe such could be, We can do it again. How many times must we be fooled. Stop supporting genocide against Muslims, and let us sit in circles, resolve our differences, and not allow the hypocrites to claim they know the religion, and thus divert us from what we need, a society where we respect all, live in Islami, and truly practice Zak’at. The people will come. What you ask can and must be done, Our unity, is more important than the divisions. It is time for Sunni,Sufi and Shi’ite, to be Islami. To do the work of Allah, whose names are also, Love, Peace, Compassion. Mercy, Charity. Let us remember this.

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