Tag Archives human-rights

Dammit, it’s STILL ain’t enough!

Or that’s what both Ibrahim bu-Sandal AND Yousif Qardawi think, so they’ve organised a conference in Bahrain for March 21st to chew the fat and spit out condemnation notes:

Scholars from the Arab and Islamic world will discuss the lifting of the ban on Danish goods in a conference in Bahrain on March 21. The meeting will also review the offences of Danish newspapers and contemporary Islamic matters.

According to Ibrahim Bosoundel, spokesman of the Bahraini Committee for the Support of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), Muslims in Bahrain would continue to boycott Danish goods despite the official apology of the Danish authority.

“The Danish government’s apology wasn’t good enough as the statement regrets the offence but highlights the importance of the freedom of the Press,” Bosoundel said.
Bahrain Tribune :: 11 Mar ’06

Excuse me guys, what else do you want? Can you give us a list so we too – being good Muslims – can join you and “protect” our Prophet’s reputation? I mean, we all know that we hurt Denmark very very badly by throttling their economy, all 0.025% of it that owes it’s living to Bahrain, and oh the huge figure of 2% due to the full Arab trade with Denmark. Aren’t they drowning in their tears… we showed them didn’t we?

Hang on a minute though, if we’re not hurting their economy, and if we’re not accepting their apology (no matter how hard they try), then what’s all the fracas about?

Open your senses and smell the hummus. There is this guy called Amr Khaled who is trying to organise a conference in Denmark for Islam’s scholars to discuss this infraction, while his friend Yousif Qardawi is berating him for dampening the flame of outrage in the Muslim world!

Yousif Qardawi

Now we get it. Personal agendas. Nothing more and nothing less. This is nothing to do with Islam, nothing to do with the revered Prophet, nothing to do with anything other than to continue to find excuses, no matter how thin, to attack the evil West. So thanks Denmark for providing the excuse… we’ll use it.

But why the hell host this thing in Bahrain? And why invite such an intellectually bankrupt leeching personality like Qardawi to be in it for God’s sake? Is this what we have descended to? Who’s going to sponsor this “conference” which will be nothing more than continuous rants and conspiracy theorists?

Let me save bu-Sandal and Qardawi the trouble and write their conference resolution for them: “the West is corrupt and there is a huge conspiracy against Islam and Muslims by the West.”

Ok, fine, we know that broken record by heart. But we also know that the world does not manufacture vinyl any more and people have moved to MP3 players, not just kept up with the invention of compact disks.

When will a conference be launched here whose concluding resolution would say something like “yes, we understand that not everyone in the world shares our view and high respect for our prophets, and that is their opinion and no matter what they throw at our prophets’ reputations, Allah will continue to protect them and their religions. We also recognise that everyone has a right to speak, no matter how crude or unsavoury their speech gets to be.”

I’m not holding my breath… but, one request to the powers that be, if and when he comes to Bahrain to do his thang, please, pretty pretty please, don’t take pictures of him with every high official we have on the island (no pictures with the king, ok?), as that would give his cause credence, and ours disrepute. Let him stay with bu-Sandal and Saidi. They deserve each others’ company.


Women’s Day

Women's Day Logo

Humanity owes women its very existance.
But all they are given is more heartache.
Second- or third-class citizens in virtually all communities.
No rights.
Other than walking a few steps behind men.

Isn’t it time they realise their own potential?
Unhindered by society, custom or religion?
And stop judging them by biological differences?
Isn’t it time that they are accepted as equals?

Didn’t humanity ever had a female prophet?

Happy International Women’s Day.


Family Law, part deux

Posted on

Crying childPrepare yourself for another 100,000+ person march this weekend (yes, the F1 weekend!) to blackmail the parliament to rescind the Family Law the government sent it yesterday. Our e-steamed clerics are adamant that the proposed Family Law which concerns the Ja’afari sect (Shi’a) NOT be discussed and passed into law by parliament.

What are their main objections?

Do they want to:

Family Law (against) demonstration1. Ensure that women and their children are protected at all times, especially in cases of divorce.
2. Ensure that women and their children are provided for post divorce with an adequate alimony and child support payments.
3. Ensure that women and their children are provided with relevant and decent housing post divorce.
4. Ensure that women will have adequate access to their children should those children be in their father’s custody.
5. Ensure that women are not blackmailed into submission and acceptance of unfair divorce conditions in lieu of them keeping custody of their children.

No. None of the above unfortunately.

The main reason for the clerics’ objections is their realisation of the waning of their sun when such a law becomes a reality. Because then they will be “robbed” of their “God-given” right to (mis)interpret His religion and His laws to their benefit and to the detriment of women and their children.

Family Law (against) demonstrationThey object that the law does not have a codicil dictating that it can only be changed by the respected clerics rather than MPs in parliament. They want that inculcated into the constitution, a constitution to all intents and purposes they disagree with and inherently do not recognise, just as they do not recognise any constitution on Earth other than their own malleable interpretation of the Qur’an and the Sunna, neglecting the fact that quite a number of Hadiths are controversial at best and down-right lies at worst. Neglecting the fact that due to their impudence specifically hundreds of women and their children are destitute, neglecting the fact that a woman virtually cannot divorce her husband even if he continuously abuses her and her children both verbally and physically? Neglecting the fact that they have interpreted the Words of God to their and men’s exclusive advantage?

Tell you what? If they accept to make women imams and judges with all the privileges they themselves enjoy, I won’t have a problem by pulling the Family Law out of politician’s hands and keep it in their unisex domain.

Family Law (against) demonstrationUntil then, you can go out and demonstrate all you like, disrupt the Formula One event and wreak havoc as you usually do, I fully support the government in codifying such a law rather than keep it in your malleable and sticky hands.

But the really really sad thing is to see these thousands of women demonstrating against something that would give them back their rights.

Images courtesy of Al-Wasat newspaper in their coverage of the demonstrationsa on 10 Nov 2005


Public Private Records

I know, that’s like a definition of an oxymoron, but as far as this situation is concerned it hits the nail very much on the head.

Let me explain: I took my mother this morning to the Salmania Medical Complex for a check-up x-ray for bone density. That section is housed in the very old part of the hospital, a place that used to be the old maternity ward and where I as well as my two younger brothers were born, but now almost completely dilapidated with that old building smell.

The corridors surround a nice area which could be turned into a lovely garden where patients might want to be brought to relax. The shocking thing however is the way that the hospital authorities decided to store thousands of presumably old x-ray films and records at the side of these corridors! Some folders and film envelopes were covered in tarpaulin for protection against the elements I guess.

I couldn’t believe my eyes, I thought these must be just empty envelopes awaiting disposal, but opening a couple and looking in I was aghast; they actually contain actual x-ray films! Some of these files especially the ones on top of the heaps are caked with dust, so these files must have been there for a while. The files had the names of patients, and of course as you can see from the pictures the film itself has the name and particulars of patients imprinted as well.

Aren’t these x-rays very private and are privileged information? Why are these files just thrown there for anyone to rummage through and find the most intimate medical details about people? Doesn’t the Ministry of Health have better ways of storing or destroying old records?

These are patient privileged information for goodness’ sake. Is this what privacy means to the Ministry of Health?

I called the PR section at SMC and spoke to Hussain Al-Mousawi who shuffled this problem on and blamed the Ministry of Finance as (according to him) they are responsible for coming and collecting these files to take them to the Central Stores, and said that these files are very old “anyway” but when I told him that some of those were dated 2003 he promised to take the matter up with the SMC management. I hope he does, and does it very quickly. I don’t have much hope that the management will do anything with this situation any time soon.



I’ve attended two demonstrations this afternoon in Bahrain, one was FOR the codification of personal and family status laws now, while I drove past the other which was AGAINST the codification of these laws without a perpetual guarantee to not tamper with the resultant laws by anyone other than approved clerics.

The first demonstration was attended primarily by Bahrain’s liberals. Ibrahim Sharif the president of the National Democratic Action Society was there as were other liberal/socialist society leaders like Dr. Hassan Madan (Minbar) in addition of course with quite a number of women activists including Ghada Jamsheer and Wajeeha Al-Baharna. The attendance was impressive with numbers probably around 200 in my guesstimate which is very significant given that it was organised on short notice, and the attendees were not threatened with eternal damnation.

Driving past the other demonstration it was quite clear that the numbers should be in the thousands, probably more than 5,000 to be sure judging by these pictures, a demonstration that was called explicitly by Shaikh Isa Qassim and other clerics who told their congregation that their attendance at the demonstration was a religious duty.

I call this religious emotional blackmail.

But even without going to that level, Bahrain is a deeply religious country for the most part and they would not walk, but run to execute the religious leadership’s requests, and run they did this afternoon by their thousands.

Regardless of where anyone stands about this issue, this is democracy in action and I am privileged to have experienced it.

There will be those usual voices that will try to escalate ethnic and sectarian tensions, as they will try to force through bills that would limit this freedom, but those voices should be defeated. These are people expressing their opinions democratically in legal and authorised demonstrations for things they believe in deeply.

What will happen now is anyone’s guess. Mine is that the government, backed into a corner by impractical demands of these Shi’a clerics will promulgate the Family Status Laws for the Sunni sect and let the Shi’as stew in their own juices. Maybe in a couple of years when the Shi’a women see for themselves how the Sunni Shari’a courts are running and how their judgments suddenly started to support women and their children in family disputes with consistency, they will wake up and demand their right even if it runs against their husbands and clerics.

I hope it won’t be too late by that time, because by then, the Shi’a would have been relegated to third-class citizens by their own doing and by their own obstinacy.


The Last Information Minister

Anas Mohammed Al-Rasheed

Remember his name well, because it is a person with this vision and courage that is sorely missing in Bahrain at the moment.

Anas Al-Rasheed is the new Kuwaiti Information Minister, and his stated goal in his new position is to CLOSE the Ministry of Information!

Kuwait’s new information minister has a unique approach to a job that in many countries is little more that a propaganda tool for authoritarian leaders.

“My idea for improving journalism in Kuwait is the elimination of the ministry of information,” Anas al-Rashid told editors and reporters at The Washington Times yesterday.

Mr. Rashid said he took the information ministry position in April on the condition that the government eventually close the ministry, which has the authority to regulate the print media through mandatory licenses. The press in Kuwait is independent, but many journalists practice self-censorship to avoid breaking laws against challenging the authority of the emir or criticizing Islam.

and from Al-Sharq Al-Awsat

آخر وزير إعلام
هذا هو حلم الدكتور أنس محمد الرشيد وزير الاعلام الكويتي، الذي قال انه يساند فكرة الغاء وزارته ولتكتفي الدولة بتلفزيونها واذاعتها بلا وزارة تدير شؤونها.
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat

In our lovely Kingdom however, the stark reality is that it seems that every Minister of Information we’ve had is hell-bent on destroying the country’s reputation in international circles, threatening everyone who dares to put pen to paper to criticise, or posts something that is a little off the party line on the internet and give them prison sentences and fines for their efforts.

Criticism is the best form of advice, the government is paying millions to consultants for advice, journalists are providing that advice free of charge!

Over the last few days (since the IAS was administratively closed) there has been various appearances of the Bahraini Information Minister in the papers essentially trying to legitimise the government’s attempts to silence opposition, shrouded in “nice talks” to the editors of the local papers to teach them the manners of dialogue and criticism. Which basically is: toe the line.

Time to learn from Anas.

The Bahraini Minister of Information re-iterated his ministry’s position to go ahead with website registration directive. This is the highest ranking official at the ministry who now supports this archaic move.

So as we see the countries around us (disregard Saudi from this statement) doing away with their ministries of information, ours continues to bolster its presence.


When the Emirates and Kuwait have private television and radio stations, our minister questions the feasibility (arabic) of allowing private stations to operate in Bahrain! Hello? Anyone knows how the Dubai Media City is doing? How many jobs did that generate, and how did it enhance Dubai’s name locally and internationally? How many businesses outside of the media sphere did it attract?

It’s all a jumbled up situation with absolutely no priority given by the government to effect real progress. We’re standing still, and have been for so long that virtually everyone has passed us in the world.

hat tip to iDip for his post on Anas Al-Rasheed.


Activist should not be punished for denouncing abuse

A leading human rights organisation is urging the Bahraini government to drop the charges against a woman’s rights activist set to be tried on Saturday for criticisng family court judges. Ghada Jamsheer faces up to 15 years in prison for three incidents of alleged “slander” over her criticism of how women are treated by the family court system, says the New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“Ghada Jamsheer is being punished for exposing the injustice that women face in the courtroom,” said HRW’s women’s director LaShawn R. Jefferson. “These lawsuits are a blatant attempt to silence her and undermine the reform efforts she spearheads.”

Jamsheer is a leading women’s rights activist in Bahrain and heads the Women’s Petition Committee, which is pushing for the kingdom’s family laws to be codified and the family courts to be reformed. She has organised protests, vigils and a hunger strike to draw attention to the suffering of women in the current court system.

Bahrain has two separate Sharia (Islamic law) based family courts, for Sunni and Shiite Muslims, which hear personal status cases, including marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance cases. As the laws are uncodified, the judges are free to make judgments based on their own reading of Islamic jurisprudence. Human Rights Watch says the judges are generally conservative religious scholars with limited formal training, many of whom “are unapologetically adverse to women’s equality and persistently favour men in their rulings.”

Since 2001 the Women’s Petition Committee has documented hundreds of such cases, for example, where judges deny women custody of their children because they work or are studying higher education. Dozens of complaints have been presented to the justice ministry and the King’s office, but despite promises to grant divorced women presumptive custody of their children, little action has been taken, HRW says.

Jamsheer faces three trials – the first of which is due to begin in the capital Manama on Saturday – in which she is accused of slander for calling Bahrain’s family court judges “corrupt, biased and unqualified” and branding one specific judge “rude and unfair”. She also faces criminal charges brought by the ex-husband of a woman whose case the committee took on. She is charged under a part of the penal code which has been widely condemned for allowing the government to suppress public criticism.

Human Rights Watch is also calling on the Bahraini government to eliminate the criminal penalties for slander in cases that do not involve direct and immediate incitement to acts of violence or discrimination.

“Rather than putting one of Bahrain’s most committed activists on trial, the government should work with Ghada Jamsheer to immediately address the issues that her organisation has brought to light,” Jefferson said.


Reports land journalist in the dock

A 52-year-old Bahraini journalist is being prosecuted for allegedly writing for a newspaper abroad without government permission.

He should have had official permission from the Information Ministry, the Lower Criminal Court heard.

The defendant, a journalist for nearly 30 years, is charged with illegally working as a correspondent for a Kuwaiti newspaper.

He admitted at an earlier hearing writing for the Kuwaiti paper, but told the court he had no idea that he needed ministry permission.

The ministry sent a complaint to the public prosecution that the journalist was acting as a correspondent for the newspaper without obtaining official permission.

It said it had repeatedly warned him to stop sending articles abroad without permission.

He has violated the Press and Publication Law of 2002, said the ministry.

The defendant worked illegally as a correspondent for the paper from March 8, 2002 to February 28, 2003, says the prosecution.

He told the court he stopped sending articles abroad for some time when he learned he could be prosecuted if he did not have official permission.

“I asked officials at the Information Ministry about the requirements one needs to practice this profession of becoming a journalist and a correspondent here in Bahrain,” he said.

“They told me that they wanted a letter from the editor-in-chief of the Kuwaiti newspaper requesting the Information Ministry to register me as its correspondent in Bahrain.”

He said the paper sent the letter as requested and he continued as a correspondent.

The court adjourned the case until September 12, to find out whether the ministry had given permission or not.
GDN :: Mohammed Aslam :: 30 May 2005


The Truth & Reconcilliation time is NOW

Over 5,000 people attended a seminar organised by both the dissolved Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and the Committee Supporting Victims of Torture in Bilad Al-Qadeem near Manama to discuss the results of the recent United Nations report on torture in Bahrain.

You can see the attendees lifting banners calling for the enactment of CAT, Committee Against Torture recomendations, one of which is the repeal or at least an amendment to Decree 56 of 2002 which would bring the torturers to justice.

Wouldn’t you think that this is a perfect opportunity for the creation of a Truth and Reconcilliation Committee a la South Africa and more recently Morocco?

Sure a few (high) heads would roll because of it, but the Royal Family would be assured of ruling for another few centuries…


Swedish Cookies

In Sweden, a website cannot use cookies by law unless the site offers the user the option not to use them. A dislaimer must be shown on any site so that the visitor’s privacy is protected:

Today, July 25, 2003, the Electronic Communication Act (“the Act”) enters into force. A practical effect of the Act is that the use of cookies, that is local data files storaging information about a certain user and browser, will be regulated (the Act, chapter 6, clause 18, based on Article 5.3 in the EU communications directive).

in English, this is better explained as:

Here is the obligatory cookie information, as required by Swedish law: this site uses cookies to store the name, email address and URL you enter in the comment form. The information is only stored locally on your computer. Using this feature is optional. If you have JavaScript disabled, no cookies will be stored. If you check the “No” button in the form, no cookies will be stored and any existing cookies set by this site will be erased. — 456 Berea St.

Of course in Bahrain, they STILL want us to register websites, and accept a national smart ID card down our throats.. the MPs and their impotent parliament are still in slumber, with a “DO NOT DISTURB” sign permanently hung on their chamber’s doors.