Tag Archives democracy

Chaos as MPs clash over ban on reporter

Parliament’s weekly session ended in chaos yesterday after MPs quarrelled over a reporter being banned from the session. Some MPs walked out in protest as Al Wasat newspaper reporter Batool Al Sayed initially refused to leave the Press box.

Parliament chairman Khalifa Al Dhahrani had reportedly earlier contacted newspaper chairman Farouk Almoayyed, insisting that Ms Al Sayed stay away from future sessions.

This followed a written request from the Al Menbar Bloc, following a report by Ms Al Sayed on a row between MPs Shaikh Mohammed Khalid Mohammed and Shaikh Abdulla Al A’ali two weeks ago, over a Parliament statement on the fighting in Fallujah, Iraq.

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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.

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This is not my Bahrain. This is not my Islam.

Nancy Ajram performing in BahrainIslamist MPs Adel Al-Moawada, Mohammed Khaled Mohammed, Ali Matar, Abdulla Al-A’ali, and Hamad Al-Muhannadi tabled an urgent motion in the Bahraini Parliament to ban the Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram from performing in Bahrain citing her act as provocative, indecent and debaucherous.

The motion was squarely defeated with most members including the chairman describing the motion as frivolous. In a democratic country, this should have been the end of the story. However, because of these MPs’ own agenda, the issue did not rest but transpired by their (passive or active) encouragement, a gang of their followers violently demonstrated at the venue last night resulting in several injuries to innocent people and property, burnt rubber tires, and set fire to a traffic light. They were clashes between these gangs and the public security who in turn used tear gas to try to disperse them.

This is clearly a precursor of the future of Bahrain. That is, if these Islamists don’t get their way democratically, they will resort to inciting simple fools to violence.

The end result? Bahrain is not a place worth investing in nor is it a place to bring your family to enjoy a peaceful time. You and your family are at the mercy of these extremists.

These so called Islamists miss the main point of democracy: “your freedom ends where another person’s freedom begins”.

The concert went ahead despite the violence, albeit with more than half of the audience forced away.

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2nd session of our parliament has started with the important motion to ban a singer from performing in Bahrain

Nancy AjramCalls to ban Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram from staging a concert in Bahrain may not be discussed at today’s parliament session, sources told our sister paper Akhbar Al Khaleej.

The issue has sowed divisions within parliament and one MP said that he would personally watch Ajram’s concert.

The proposal was initially submitted by the Al Asala parliamentary coalition chaired by second deputy chairman Shaikh Adel Al Maawda.

They complained about the singer’s erotic gestures and clothes.

Ajram joins super-star Ragheb Alama to perform in a concert being held tomorrow as part of the second anniversary of Bennigan’s restaurant.

In a statement late last night, Bahrain Family Leisure Company chairman Abdullatif Al Aujan said his company was co-ordinating with the Information Ministry and several MPs over the show.

He said the company, which owns Bennigan’s, honoured Bahrain’s traditions and values and the show would in no way go against the social customs and ethics.

gdn

See? Anything and everything distracts them from what they’re supposed to be doing. If they want to really move the country forward economically, educationally, and yes even morally, we have to separate politics from religion.

But with 19 Islamist members out of the elected 40, I guess their priorities are a tad bit different from what people in the street want.

update: here’s the story from a better newspaper

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