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Wait oh Saar fire….

A local saying immediately popped into my mind as I read these words in today’s Al-Wasat:

وطالبت لجنة الحقوق الدينية في وزارة الخارجية الأميركية بـ «تقديم أي من المسئولين في الحكومة البحرينية الذين ثبت تورطهم في انتهاكات صارخة للحرية الدينية إلى العدالة ومعاقبتهم بموجب القانون، ويجب على الحكومة البحرينية إصدار اعتذار رسمي لتدمير العشرات من دور العبادة، وهو الأمر الذي وجدت اللجنة البحرينية المستقلة لتقصي أنه ينتهك بوضوح القانون البحريني والدولي»

 

and represented in this official statement from USCIRF:

 

Soon after the release of the BICI report, King Hamad al-Khalifa appointed a committee to review how to implement the report’s recommendations. The committee is expected to report back to the King in February.

USCIRF urges the committee to address the following concerns during its review of the BICI’s recommendations:

  • The report recommends the government of Bahrain should “consider rebuilding, at its expense, some of the demolished religious structures in accordance with administrative regulations.” USCIRF is concerned that the government may rebuild only a few of the religious structures with legal permits and decrees, and not many of the other structures. In consultation with the Shi’a community, the government of Bahrain should restore or rebuild all the structures that were illegally destroyed;
  • The report does not address the loss and destruction of religious materials in some of the demolished structures. The Bahraini government should restore, replace, or compensate the local Shi’a community for the loss of these materials;
  • The report’s findings do not address allegations by multiple human rights groups that some individual members of the Shi’a community were harassed, interrogated, and arrested for returning to some of the destroyed sites to pray or retrieve religious materials. These allegations should be addressed and officials responsible should be reprimanded and held to account;
  • Any Bahraini government officials found to have committed severe religious freedom abuses should be brought to justice and punished under the law; and
  • The Bahraini government should issue a formal apology to the Shi’a community for destroying dozens of religious structures that the BICI found clearly violates Bahraini and international law.

“USCIRF welcomes the King’s decision to establish the BICI, as well as his public announcement that the government intends to rebuild Shi’a places of worship. It is important that these structures be rebuilt in close consultation with the local Shi’a community and not unilaterally,” said Leo.

The emphasis is mine and the cause of my raised eyebrows and that idiom popping into my mind. To represent it fully, the idiom goes:

Wait oh Saar fire for water from Hnainia

Saar being a village in the north of the island while Hnainia is in the south. We use that expression to represent the improbability (or even impossibility) of an event ever happening…

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LIES LIES LIES! Really?

Nick Kristof was once again in Bahrain recently and as any good reporter, delved right into the events he came to investigate, talked to both sides of the conflict and came to the conclusions that most of the Bahraini people have been laboriously living through and breathing over the last ten months.

Others who choose to keep the blinkers permanently affixed to their conscience – and expectedly – cry foul whenever someone attempts to remove them. They do so not in providing evidence to contradict what has been reported, of course, but by blaming someone for the effort. This time, ironically, the government:

That’s right. Advise an erring government to further push its head in the sand. And here, my friends, is the crux of the problem. “Loyalists” if they could actually be called that, are doing immense damage to the country and its people by naively believing that the best way to deal with real problems is to hide from the truth and through their actions condone the government’s straying from the correct path. They also assume that international observers are like the sheep they’re used to, are very easily misled and will also believe their versions of the “truth”, though the truth is staring them in the eye.

So what did Nick do this time? What kind of “untruths” did he tell?

Well, spend a few minutes with this:

And here’s the article that goes with this video.

We ain’t goin’ nowhere fast if we continue to bury our heads in the good stuff.

So what are the things that will get us out of this mess? Well, they are what every human being on earth is and should be aspiring to:

    1. A new constitution forged by a constituent assembly elected to establish a constitutional monarchy and an elected Government.
    2. The adoption of an equitable electoral system to achieve representation of all of our society.
    3. Dismiss the government and the formation of a transitional government whose mission is to achieve political and security breakthroughs so as to create a suitable ground for a serious and fruitful national dialogue. We reject the reduction of this important requirement through a limited cabinet reshuffle which is a repetition of the previous attempts which did not provide a real alternative to our people.
    4. Release of the remaining prisoners of conscience and political prisoners and the abolition of their trials.
    5. The formation of an independent and impartial commission of inquiry in the killings that took place since 14 February, and to bring those responsible to trial.
    6. Neutralization of the state’s official media in order for it to be nationally representative of all components of the society and their views.
    7. To provide the necessary safeguards to achieve the government’s commitment to agreements it undertakes.

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The Source of Instability

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Secretary Clinton encouraged both Bahrain and Saudi to embrace the Arab Spring. I do hope that they do because it IS in their best interest t do so. What we actually see on the ground now; however, is abstinence and a deep sense of denial. It’s almost as if some in both countries’ administration are refusing to believe that the Arab Spring has arrived at their shores and that it could never happen to them. For those still in disbelief, she had these wise words:

“The greatest single source of instability in today’s Middle East is not the demand for change,” she said, “It is the refusal to change.”

ArabianBusiness.com

These words should have jerked them awake to the fact that the US administration (and the democratic world) recognizes that they are the biggest rocks in the path to democratic change. To me, what’s veiled within them as well is the somewhat diplomatic warning that if they don’t embrace such change and acquiesce to their public’s legitimate demands, the US might well not stand by them but for once actually stand on the “right side of history” and gladly watch them fall.

The whole Arab world, not just Bahrain, needs to embrace change and use the positive energy within change to forge forth with a better more inclusive and democratic future in which institutions rule, rather than the whims of individuals.

Clinton continued:

Clinton said the United States would continue to have “frank conversations” with long-time allies such as Bahrain, where the Sunni ruling family brought in troops from Sunni allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help crush a protest movement earlier this year.

“Mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens and will not make legitimate calls for reform go away,” Clinton said, saying the tiny Gulf country’s monarchy had made public promises to begin political dialogue and investigate abuses.

“We intend to hold the Bahraini government to these commitments and to encourage the opposition to respond constructively to secure lasting reform,” she said.

Reuters

Good. I know that intrinsically everyone wants to be on the right side of history, ultimately, but some need to be judiciously encouraged to tread a path in that direction. This pressure by a major power which has a vested interest in this region as well as the local political opposition groups are good manifestations of the much required pressure. The momentum of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya will gain strength and the laws of motion will take root. Whether the remaining Arab countries will use that momentum for their benefit, or get rolled over and discarded in the process remains to be seen.

Eid Mubarak!

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How to alienate sympathisers to your cause

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Like just about everybody in Bahrain, I’ve been caught in traffic due to roads being closed either by physical objects, oil spilled on the road or a combination of both. The end result of course is that the demonstrators want their message to be received by those in charge that they have legitimate demands and they will do whatever they can to disrupt daily life to get those demands addressed.

Fine. Ok.

But guys, why should you endanger the road users in this manner? What you’re doing is simply bolstering the position of those who oppose you and turn those who possibly sympathize with you into new enemies!

I completely understand that you have legitimate demands and those are being brought out in the open on a weekly basis in the various authorised and unauthorised demonstrations and gatherings, why do you have to resort to an activity that not only inconvenience road users, but put them in jeopardy as well?

There are other ways to get your message across in a peaceful manner without endangering others. I don’t mind you inconveniencing me to make me aware of your needs. I completely understand inconvenience, but when it comes to putting me in danger that’s a bit much.

So quit this please before you alienate many people who once were your supporters. Find other ways to make your voice and demands heard.

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Civil War is in the offing

Civil War is in the offing

If you’re not afraid of what and where Bahrain is going, then this clip should give you a good indication. In it, a bunch of ignoramuses are taking the mic in front of a government building in Muharraq inciting not only hatred, but openly calling for the killing of the Shia in Bahrain, and threatening that Muharraq will be the Shia graveyard. Muharraq, that lovely island we’ve always associated as being the model of tolerance, understanding and multi-cultural living seems to be now degenerating at the hands of murderers, torturers and thugs.

All this in front of a government building.

In addition to that, the nefarious convicted torturer Adel Flaifel is calling for the formation of armed gangs with the help of the Muharraq Municipal Council and the Ministry of Interior to “deal” with the Shia – whom he calls traitors – and protect Muharraq from their advance!

I don’t care for these people nor their message of intolerance. What I care about is that by virtue of them being in front of a government building, using the building’s PA system it seems, preaching hatred to the crowd and not a single person is stopping them and to date, I haven’t heart of any official condemnation of that gathering and not a single legal channel has been moved to curtail them when they are clearly breaking the law. If my memory serves, a police station is directly opposite of that location too, so why the police didn’t intervene is mind boggling too. Unless of course the police there don’t understand Arabic and the gathering was deemed authorised and legal?

Enjoy the clip, and pack your bags while you’re at it. Bahrain – with these morons openly operating in it with the full aid and knowledge of the government – is not a place that I want to spend my future in.

Disgusting.

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Free Ebrahim Sharif

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One Bahraini politician whom I really respect is Ebrahim Sharif.

Ebrahim Sharif is the secretary general of the secular National Action Democratic Society, acronymed Wa’ad – which translates from Arabic to “promise”. I believe with his tenacity and steadfastness to the truth and his passion to get this country to a better plane on which all are equal under the law and everyone is held responsible for their actions is the salvation that this country is in dire need of.

Unfortunately, he currently languishes in prison with a bevy of his compatriots for what some have determined to be politically motivated charges.

I also admire Ali Salman, the general secretary of Al-Wefaq1 and some of his colleagues like Khalil Al-Marzooq for I believe that they too are sincere in their efforts to achieve the same ends that Sharif aspires to. I know that this concept might be very difficult for those who’ve put on the sectarian shades on and see Wefaq as being necessarily beholden to the Iranian Ogre – due to Wefaq’s membership being overwhelmingly Shi’a. I on the other hand don’t have those preset views to encumber my deductions and do see beyond a person’s chosen confessional beliefs and evaluate positions exclusively with what is good for Bahrain metric.

Ebrahim Sharif is spending his first of five years in prison for his beliefs amongst others of his compatriots who have been accused of similar offenses and have had sentences levied against them from five to life. I can’t do much about those sentences other than to hope that they know that they will for ever be remembered for their sacrifices, and hope too that they continue to stay true and strong. There is every chance that they will be exonerated soon.

Until then, please show your support by visiting a blog that has been especially created to support Ebrahim Sharif at http://freesharif.wordpress.com.

Stay well Bahrain.

Ed: typo corrected, was Wa’ad, now Wefaq – 11:52
“Bahrain demonstrates in solidarity with Egypt – Feb 4th, 2011 – with a quick interview with Ebrahim Sharif added at 17:22

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Selective security

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While I abhor the Molotov cocktail attack on Samira Rajab’s residence and regard it as a heinous crime not to be condoned at all, especially when consideration is given that this attack was most probably undertaken due to Ms Rajab’s opinions and political position, I am left at a loss as to how the security services can find and apprehend the perpetrators within a day of the incident and those even more severe attacks on the two Wa’ad HQs in both Manama and Muharraq, the attack on the Wefaq Secretary General’s residence and countless opposition MPs, doctors, journalists and writers are still at large!

What gives?

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REPENT!

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I was just looking through my Flickr stream and came across this recent picture I took in Manhattan, NY. Was reminded of the place and its hodgepodge of cultures and people from all corners of the world, yet, they mostly live in peace with each other and even enjoy each other’s company. Even with the presence of some who could be classified as crackpots. Yet, they just live… and let live.

I just hope that this spirit of coexistence returns back to this fractious country soon with the establishment of a better democracy and better respect for human rights.

Here’s to hope.

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Congratulations Libya…. Next?

The pictures speak for themselves.

The question that wise “leaders” should ask themselves is: “Do I want to end up like any of these?”

I suppose not.

So what they need to do is relax that grip of power, give people the chance to live with dignity, treat them as equals and that will undoubtedly prolong their rule.

But who’s listening?

Congratulations Libya. Now please work hard at demolishing the idolization of persons and establish laws that apply to all and institutions to run the affairs of the country transparently and forge the future that was stolen from you for over 40 years.

Now. Who’s next?

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