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Bahrain in the news

We’re famous! Again.

So far this morning, Bahrain is mentioned 7,754 times in Google News for just one single item. Is it the discovery of a new oil field? Huge gas reserves? A Bahraini scientist discovered a cure for cancer?

Nope, unfortunately not for any of those things. It’s to do with a has-been singer and an alleged child molester who was given refuge in this here great compassionate country at one point. To repay his host’s generosity, he buggered off leaving behind debts in millions. Serves ’em right.

Bahrain's Shaikh Abdulla and Michael Jackson, courtesy of the Telegraph, UK
Bahrain's Shaikh Abdulla and Michael Jackson, courtesy of the Telegraph, UK

Och well. I guess there is no such thing as bad publicity. We should be happy. I guess we should all concentrate on how good Jackson was, I mean, for people of my generation he was an icon to be sure. We enjoyed his music which was revolutionary, some say, I don’t really know, I’m part deaf that way. But regardless, I don’t personally see his contribution to be more than momentary pleasurable auditory experiences which are soon forgotten to be replaced by another. Maybe it’s just as well that most songs are of around 3 minutes duration.

Anyway, he’s dead. In the waning interest in wars and suffering all around the world, I guess this piece of news is going to dominate the airways for a while.

What will I remember of him? Well, His touring the Seef Mall and being caught in a burka – of all things – shopping in Marina Mall, the lowest class mall in Bahrain.


Michael Jackson in Bahrain in a burka shot exiting the Marina Mall in the capital Manama

(edit: Google News reports about Bahrain has increased to 19,129 on 27 June!)


Crazy Steve is dead!

Steve Irwin was killed on 4Sept06 by being stung by a ray through his heart in AustraliaI am shocked. It is unbelievable. That affable and completely crazy wildlife expert is dead! Crockhunter is dead! Steve was filming a huge ray around Australia when the thing turned on him and stung him with its barb straight through his heart.

I am very sorry for death and wish to extend my personal condolences to his family and friends. He was crazy as a moon bat but he certainly brought his love of nature into our living rooms and infected us with it too.

May he rest in peace now.



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I got this in the mail today, and I thought it was a practical joke. Who the hell would send me this stuff?

BLENDER cover page BLENDER article

Then I remembered, I was interviewed by Blender for an article about Michael Jackson a few months ago!

It was a good interview actually, very well written and encompassing, not one that is superficial and fawning. After reading the article I’m glad I did it, and thanks go to my friend Shayma for arranging it.

Unfortunately, their site doesn’t seem to have that particular article, so you have to go out and buy it if you want to read it.


Let the fireworks begin; Nancy is in town!

Nancy's in town, and everyone is waiting for a couple of parliamentary members' brainfarts

The last time this young lady came to Bahrain, we had parliamentary and street riots, with people lying on the roads leading to her performance venue, quite a number of burnt tyres and scuffles with police, all apparently planned and executed by Islamists in parliament and the street. Ironically that was one of the few occasions in Bahrain’s recent history where both Sunni extremists as well as Shi’a both came together to form “the Nancy Opposition Movement.”

The concert did go ahead, but Nancy was so scared that she didn’t dare show skin (and she could show plenty!) but chose to wear jeans and a very conservative top. It must have been very stifling creatively for the lovely siren, being restricted with those close while performing.

No matter, the important thing is that it was Nancy – and no one else and I say that with hand on heart – that started our real democracy and the fight for personal freedoms rolling, and it hasn’t stopped yet.

Now, everyone on the island is expecting a repeat of the previous experience three years ago, and I know people would gladly pay through the nose to thumb theirs at the Islamist dimwits who everyone expects to create yet another unneeded and unwarranted ruckus.

The cartoon in today’s Al-Wasat is quite apt, and also demonstrates quite plainly that some MPs are in it for their egos rather than the good of the country, or even worse, some just cannot separate parliamentary work and that of religious preaching.

The guy in the cartoon is calling an MP (most probably the usual posse of Islamists/Salafis/Wahabi: Mohammed Khaled, Jassim Al-Saidi, Adel Al-Moawdah – though he’s been rather subdued of late – Ali Mattar, Abdulla Al-A’ali, and the rest) and saying “Hello, Mr. MP, Nancy Ajram returned to Bahrain, get prepared as this is your game!”

I’m putting my money on Nancy to win by a head. What’s yours on?


The Boy busts another record!

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Michael Schumacher on the way to his record breaking pole position at ImolaMichael Schumacher dominated qualifying today at Imola, recording his 66th career Pole Position and moving ahead of the previous best of 65 recorded by Ayrton Senna at this circuit 12 years ago. Schumacher’s Bridgestone-shod 248 F1 looked especially well hooked up as he stopped the clocks with a 1:22.795s, nearly two-tenths clear of the field.

“With the car we had, getting a pole was sort of obvious, but it is always great to start from Pole,” Schumacher said. “The record is less important for me. You look at records when you finish racing. I think we can show our very strong race pace.”
F1 Live

To all of MS’ detractors out there… the boy is on his 66th pole, the highest ever recorded in F1 history – okay, if you take away that altercation with Villeneuve and him being penalised, some would say that would bring his “official poles” down to 63, but hey, he WAS on the front of the grid for 66 times and that’s what counts.

The race tomorrow, especially with the make up of the grid (I hope that Barrichello doesn’t do anything stupid “just to prove himself”) should be an interesting race…

Where are you going to watch it? C’mon, tell all where is the best place in Bahrain to watch the race!


Cat’s in Bahrain!

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Cat Stevens - Yousif Islam - Yusuf IslamProbably the best thing to come out of the “Championing the Prophet” conference in Bahrain is the fact that Cat Stevens (now Yousif Islam) is in Bahrain too!

I wonder if he could give us a rendition of Matthew & Son, Wild World or even Morning Has Broken (which we used to sing every morning during assembly at the Sacred Heart’s School when I was a wee tot sometime during the last century!) while he’s around?

Welcome to Bahrain Cat… Man I was your most ardent fan at the hight of your fame all those yonks ago, and still like your music!


Is Jackson off, finally?

Michael JacksonThe freeloader has been kicked off the island, it has been reported. Good riddance and thank you Shaikh Abdullah for doing what I would have done from the start: not offer him a pad in our fair isle. But then, you’re more generous than I am.

In any case, I hope he does not return.

I wonder how that is going to affect the forthcoming Blender article I was interviewed on the subject for. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Thanks forzaq8 for the headsup.


Bahrain, post-Nancy

October 22nd, 2003 is an historic date for Bahrain and in a lot of Bahrainis’ minds they will remember events henceforth as pre-Nancy and post-Nancy. MPs, particularly the Islamists, should also take note of this phenomenon as it most certainly has determined their future within the democratic establishment and society.

So far we have not heard an apology from these MPs who instigated the riots, on the contrary, they – particularly Adel Al-Moawada, got further entrenched in his views with threats of a repeat performance any time a singer gets invited to Bahrain to perform for whatever function (Al-Wasat Newspaper, October 25th, 2003, page 6) he goes on to further distance himself from the riots defending his actions as a child would have after striking the match that burnt the house down. In his mind it is still a clear cut issue: “prevention of vice and promotion of virtue” and it is his God given right to “defend the faith”. Not stopping for a second to contemplate that democracy is an encompassing process that takes into consideration other people’s views, and his job is to uphold and defend our infant democracy.

This demagogue is joined by many of his ilk evidenced by the various Friday sermons, but they, to the modern thinker in any case, represent all that is dangerous to these islands of ours. Zero tolerance for the others views.

What’s next? Shut down all forms of entertainment and sports? Roll back the clock and live by paraffin lamps, dates and in camel-hair tents ruled by an elite class of religious junta? Create a cadre of religious police with sticks to go around enforcing their views of prevention of vice and promotion of virtue? Maybe we should also have another national referendum to change our country’s name to Bahrainistan?

I take pride in Bahrain’s centuries-old heritage as a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural cosmos built on the respect of other people’s views and religious beliefs. I also take pride in Islam as a modern religion where no person is forced into Islam by force, nor get Islam’s views imposed. I take pride in the great strides we have taken towards the road of democracy. I take pride in my ability as a citizen to have a say in the way the government is run. I take pride in my ability to elect my parliamentary representative. I take pride in the various people who have voiced their opinions about this subject in the local papers and internet fora regardless of whether their views coincide with mine. But I mostly take pride in being able to write this article without fear of persecution.

If we as a nation don’t take a firm stand against these extremist views and show these elected representatives that they are indeed being watched, then there is no hope in the future. We also have to take a firm stand against the saboteurs who terrorised innocent people and destroyed the peace and property and not allow the government to treat them with a soft hand, nor accept that they be released by pardon. They should serve their term in the hope that they will realise their error and think twice about responding to such incitement in the future.

In the post-Nancy era, we have to seriously consider the separation of religion and politics as the events and responses of the past few days clearly demonstrated the kind of polarised society we live in. For some people personal freedom and choice is paramount, while to others it is restricted and governed by their own ideology. The only way to guarantee tolerance and personal freedoms is patently obvious. It is this that the parliament should concern themselves with rather than frivolous matters like permitting veiled women to drive or allowing Nancy to perform.


Nancy oh Nancy, thank you for breathing life into our parliament!

Nancy AjramThe Bahraini parliament yesterday was a whole lot of fun. They actually had the backbone to shoot down the motion to ban a Lebanese singer from performing in Bahrain. But to be fair, they gave the floor to one of the people tabling this motion, but he was slapped down by shutting off his mic just as he was getting going!

What fun. On her part, Nancy Ajram said in an interview in Bahrain while signing the thousands of autographs that “any publicity is good publicity!

Rock on Nancy.. and welcome to Bahrain. I most certainly will go out and buy your CD now regardless of whether I like your music, but every time I play that CD or listen/see you perform, I will remember that it was YOU who set the parliament’s pulse racing and set a precident to let this so called MPs treat the parliament with respect rather than waste its time with worthless debates like these.