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TERRORISM, definition of

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Let’s see… the UN says that terrorism is defined as:

criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other nature that may be invoked to justify them”. (GA Res. 51/210 Measures to eliminate international terrorism)

and says that the academic definition is:

“Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby – in contrast to assassination – the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat- and violence-based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperilled) victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target (audience(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought” (Schmid, 1988).

UN ODC

While the CIA defines it as:

The term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.
CIA Terrorism FAQ

And terrorism according to ONE Muslim source, is:

If we consider the meaning of the word “terrorism” on the one hand, and its fallout and traces left on human life on the other, we note that terrorism may be carried out on different levels. There is a terrorism which threatens security, honour, property and the like; there is a cultural terrorism which tears human identity apart, and leads to the abyss of perdition and aimlessness; there is an information terrorism which deprives man of his freedom to breathe in an unpolluted atmosphere. We can cite other types of terrorism such as economic terrorism, scientific terrorism, diplomatic terrorism, military terrorism, etc.

BUT (yes, there is always a but):

There exists, however, a division based on the type of perpetrators, which must be taken into account. It is the division into official and unofficial terrorism. Official terrorism – which is the more dangerous – consists of all acts that are supported by an internationally recognized quarter or State, whether by the army of that State or individual elements or in the form of an operation for the benefit of the said quarter. Opposing this type of terrorism is unofficial terrorism.
Fifth Islamic Summit

In Wikipedia, it’s defined as:

Terrorism refers to a strategy of using violence, or threat of violence to generate fear, cause disruption, and ultimately, to bring about compliance with specific political, religious, ideological, or personal demands[1]. The targets of terrorist attacks typically are not the individuals who are killed, injured, or taken hostage, but rather the societies to which these individuals belong. Terrorism is a type of unconventional warfare designed to weaken or supplant existing political landscapes through capitulation or acquiescence, as opposed to subversion or direct military action. The broader influence of terrorism in the modern world is often attributed to the dramatic focus of mass media in amplifying feelings of intense fear and anger.
Wikipedia

See how disparate these definitions are? Is it any wonder that our own parliamentarians, bless their effervescent souls, should find it quite difficult to agree what it should be defined as? Well, in that case, as is usual to that malleable body, they lump everything together – like taking a pot-shot with a cannon at a tied and trussed bird – and call it intelligent:

According to the law, people who deal with foreign terrorist organisations receive a life sentence and if they carry out operations with their backing get the death penalty.

MPs also disagreed on the government’s definition of terrorism, which stipulates that anyone who uses violence or threatens others, whatever the reason or objective, to execute an act, whether alone or for a group, to terrorise people, or scare them, is considered a terrorist.

It also says that any threat to people’s lives, property, freedom, rights or security, or damage to the environment, public or private utilities or national resources and international facilities, is considered as a terrorist act.

The definition of a terrorist act also includes threats to regional stability and safety or the countries’ leaderships and politicians.

Some MPs are calling for the adoption of the definition of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to Combat International Terrorism, which was used in the money laundering law passed by parliament.

The definition specifically exclude armed struggle for liberation and self-determination.

Others believe that the foreign affairs, defence and national security committee, which studied the proposed law, did not cover all terrorist activities in its amendments.

Meanwhile, Al Wefaq National Islamic Society expressed its concern that the law was being pushed by the government.
GDN :: 12 July, ’06

Which, naturally, by utilising this froufrou definition includes anyone who farts in my presence, let alone someone who vociferously advocates sending the Bahrain Defence Forces to jihad to help our Palestinian brothers and sisters against a country which we accepted to have the right to exist!

And this hurts: that last call was done by someone whom I have heretofore regarded as a “good” force in parliament, and one whom I had held in high regard. What’s this brain fart then? It must have been released whilst thinking of re-election, at least I hope that is the case.

No matter. The essence is, if the Bahrain government definition is actually taken to be true and laws are based on that definition, then with my writings, and that of everyone else on the island, we are died in the wool terrorists and don’t be surprised too much if we are summarily executed while our brain-dead MPs stuff their faces with crisps while giving aiming instructions to our executioners!

The Bahrain parliament is capable of defining terrorism, while they still can’t decide whether to install “efrenji” or eastern “hole-in-the-ground” toilets in parliament! Hah!

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How much you pay?

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When the only metric that you consider when evaluating a job is the cash you can stash rather than any other factor which should be considered, especially if that job is in the service of your country, then you are not worthy of that job, regardless of its pay and benefits.

Take for instance our dear moronic Chairman of the Council of Representatives, when he spews forth this gem:

«انا لا أطمع في الحصول على منصب وزاري، لكن لو عرض علي هذا المنصب لما كنت قد قبلت به لأن راتبه غير مجز»

Translation: I do not covet a ministerial position, but if such a position where to be offered to me I would refuse it as its pay is not worthy.
الوسط :: 12 يونيو 2006

That reminds me very distinctly of an article I have written a while ago in which I discussed the mindset of the typical (entry level) Bahraini job seeker, the surprise is that this person, who calls himself the Chairman of the Council of Representatives, follows the same rule in evaluating a job as does the office janitor!

Obviously he has no concept whatsoever of public service. And he conveniently forgets that every single minister in this government, including the prime minister, would regard that pay packet as lower than normal pocket money; that every one of them is a multi-millionaire, and every one of them probably owns huge tracts of land, houses, farms, boats, etc and that they really don’t need this particular monthly check… especially as the law being discussed to peg ministerial salaries is void of all the other hidden benefits they receive (talk in the press previously of each sitting minister with portfolio gets BD100,000 a year as an annual bonus during Eid, while the ministers without portfolios receive BD50,000. I have a hunch that there are a lot more of these gifts that they get, but are not declared for the national budget or any other transparency device.)

I agree that in other countries that ministers may get a lot more in their pay packets, but the guarantee is probably that they (1) have to declare their wealth at assuming office, (2) subject themselves and their families to regular audits, (3) not allowed to have another job, (4) no conflict of interest, and a myriad of other laws and regulations that they have to abide by which I should only be too happy to apply to our own ministers and higher government officials. If they agree to these measures, I would have no problem whatsoever of quadrupling their monthly salaries.

But then there is this other thing: a person does something for the love of one’s country, rather than just the love of one’s bank account. The latter’s succinct example is none other than this construction company owner who has been pre-ordained to the position of the chairman of our elected parliament.

And he has the temerity to actually state that he is not only standing for re-election to the parliament for the next term, but also standing for its chairmanship too?

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100 Days

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Let’s assume that we actually do have only 100 days left to elect a new parliament in Bahrain; yes, I know that as the talk at the moment is toward the combined session of the Shura Council (appointed) and Chamber of Representatives (elected) around the end of the month might be a signal that the king has finally made up his mind to tell the people when the 2nd full elections in our fledgeling democracy is going to be, and that date might well be before Ramadhan, then it might be that we have a lot less than those 100 days I initially imagined. In fact, as Ramadhan is about to roll over once again on around the 24th of September, and as the law states that elections must be announced 45 days prior to people going to the polls, then the announcement should be no later than the 10th of August. That means we only have 35 days to go for that fateful day!

That, my friends, is “good news” for us. I think I can speak for the whole of Bahrain when I say that we are waiting for it with baited breath. We are totally fed up with this bastardised parliament, one born illegitimately when a large section of the population decided to boycott the inaugural elections 4 years ago due to their belief that the constitution is not the one they signed up for, and broken promises. With so many good people deciding not to stand for elections, the minnows took that once in a lifetime chance, beat their vacant chests, made some noises and were installed in parliament, not for those who elected them then believing in their capabilities; rather, they were the only ones standing! So they gave voice to the local adage: ‘the only man in the village!’

I don’t think I need to recount their “accomplishments” in this first term; everyone knows them by heart, from that effete acquiescing chairman to those sectarian moguls Mohammed Khalid and Jassim Saidi, and everyone in between who ensured that whatever freedoms we had before parliament are almost completely taken away for good: laws of public assembly, peaceful demonstration, press law, terrorism law, law 56, the budgets which have easily passed through and hundreds of other things which they rubber stamped with alacrity by yes-men not worthy to be even valets at the parliament. I am sure that if one takes away the global meteoric rise of the price of oil from calculations, we would have seen the real adverse effect this parliament has had on our quality of life as a nation.

Quality of life? Not their concern and it never was. It is their own quality of life they are concerned with, rather than their electorate’s. Probably the only thing they can take to their graves as an accomplishment is the receipt of pensions ad infinitum because of the single term they have gotten completely by chance.

I know that there are no guarantees that the forthcoming members will be any better, but I hope that with a bigger gene-pool to choose from contesting, we will fair no worse.

We can wait a little longer, it looks like no more than 80 days…..

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A fist is mightier than the word!

MP Mohammed Khalid putting ice on his black eye caused by a punch he received from MP Jassim Al-MawaliBankruptcy comes in difference guises, the most dangerous of which of course is that which is associated with the intellect; because if one is intellectually bankrupt then everything is acceptable, even if the solution is at the cost of morals and societal norms.

What then can we expect from a whole intellectually bankrupt parliament whose members rule by simplistic and devastating metrics they no longer bother to hide under the surface? Using only sectarianism to arrive at decisions has become the rule rather than the exception, and members of both sects are wholly culpable.

The Sunnis align themselves blindly with the government, thinking that it will continue to offer the teat that nurtured them as long as they fight everyone else off it; while the Shi’as continue to cry foul and intransigently oppose any government action if their Sunni colleagues support it.

Of course the problem is a lot deeper than this, at least one hopes that it is not that simple. The inescapable fact is that the Shi’as form a majority in a country ruled by a minority. They have been sidelined and subjugated for centuries and not many avenues have been open to them to take without a fight. The opposite is perceived to be true for their Sunni compatriots.

It is the quintessential fight of the haves and have-nots then. And that will continue to breed these kinds of situations unless an honest attempt is made to bring the two sides together, and that is never going to happen unless the government launches a real program of rapprochement between its citizens and create a real truth and reconciliation program to remove the chasm between the sects and the schism between the citizens and the government and ruling family, and until the law is witnessed to be applied fairly and equally across the whole society.

MP Jassim Al-Mawali attacking MP Mohammed KhalidUntil then, we shouldn’t be surprised to see scenes like these… hungry dogs in a fighting pit each concerned only with itself and its own survival, rather than recognising that they both really should unite to demand and get what is rightfully theirs… life with dignity for all the citizens regardless of sect, gender, colour or ethnic background.

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A new government department is born

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Please welcome the latest government department in Bahrain; it’s staffed by 40 managers, most are really not more than janitorial shift supervisors than they are managers, and some – who habitually trip over their IQ ratings – could just be hired as mere janitors, who invariably are the most vociferous of the lot. Empty vessels is the old adage…

However, regardless of the level of contribution they muster, they are all very well paid, to the tune of BD 3,000 (US$ 8,000 approx) per month plus some benefits here and there. They all got BD 10,000 (US$ 26,500) as a one time gift from his majesty the king when they started their jobs at this department so that they can fix up their status, buy a couple of suits or bishts for state occasions.. we can’t really have them looking like the riff-raff of society that they are, so we have to at least dress them up a bit.

They were also given a monthly stipend as allowances for their transport – no, not bus fairs of course, we can’t get them to mix with lowly labourers! No way, remember they spearheaded campaigns to segregate those people from society even more than they are at the moment and banishing them to somewhere where they cannot be seen or heard! – these worthy gentlemen get to drive around in German automobiles, or those Hyundai mini-bus vehicles with tarpaulin covered 4 rows of seats to make space for their multiple wives and their brats. They even get an allowance to actually have an office and hire a couple of people to man it! How about that for a janitorial gig?

Government jobs, particularly these, are pretty good.

So what’s the scope of work?

Big brooms, carpets, lift then flick of the wrists.

Very onerous, I know. It takes most of those 40 worthy individuals to bend over, lift the carpet, and for another herd of their cohorts to use the broom to sweep the dirt under said carpet. Release the carpet to cover that dirt and pretend for ever that it is simply not there!

When someone dares to question the various unsavoury smells emanating from that carpet, they are ordered to (1) state categorically that they have lost their sense of smell, so they aren’t bothered by it, (2) if there is to be an enquiry as to what that smell is, then do so in a closed room, edit every observation in that room, and come out with a press release that states that the smell was in fact, contrary to popular belief, was extremely savoury and it was nothing but Bahraini roses put there in order to extract the aromatic oils and preserve that for posterity, (3) if the public don’t like those observations, then they humbly remind us that Bahrain is a collection of islands, surrounded by the sea, and they have given us the open invitation to drink our fill.

They of course do not recognise that we only have narrow corridors to actually access the sea to partake of their advice, and that those corridors constitute approximately 3% of a coastline which exceeds 700 kilometres, but that’s just detail.

These government employees are hired for 4 years of their lives, fattened, and then released back into the community where they never again have to lift a finger to earn a living; they are all on a pension scheme which is the envy of the world, some say they would keep more than 50% of that inflated salary if they are called to serve just one 4 year term, if they are fortunate enough to be selected for another term, and most look like they will be, especially the actual janitors as they have demonstrated their total and unconditional support for their canny employer, that pension will soon approach 100% of their salaries in addition to all the other benefits they will gain.

Not to mention of course their other sources of revenue: “the lecture circuit.” They will have a booking agent for the various talk-shows they will appear on, the various conferences and expert janitorial panels in the Arab world and beyond they will be invited to and adequately compensated for and probably deposited in one or more Swiss bank accounts.

Whoever thought that they were elected in the first place to guard against black marketeers, corruption and to clean up the scum of society is sorely mistaken. They might – and I reiterate, might – have had that silly notion when they started their journey, if only as a janitorial campaign promise, but with the slow and deliberate inculcation and sitting on the government organ via grants and photo-ops with high government officials, that spark has been snuffed within the first few days.

We’ve got another 136 days of their company still, and we should feel utterly privileged to have that particular pleasure.

How can one live without that government department which looks after the citizen’s rights first and foremost and roots out corruption and all that ails this country? We can only hope that these worthy gentlemen are selected once again to occupy those plush leather seats.

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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?

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A present to Ali Matter and his lot

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Shaikh Ali MattarLash and Mask KitYes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a special lash and mask kit I would like to present to our dear member of parliament Ali Mattar who suggested the very valid and totally workable solution to penalise errant journalists… WHIP THEIR ASS!

And of course Mattar is going to wear that mask while he’s doling out the lashings punishment (arabic).

Mattar of course backtracked on his brainfart and justified it by saying that he was just joking! Well, I never thought that this guy and the whole herd he belongs to have any sense of humour whatsoever. But I am obviously wrong so I fully and humbly and unambiguously apologise for my temerity.

At a time when he and his compatriots in this parliament should fight tooth and nail to increase civil rights, what we get is the continuous attempts by them to restrict them. When we look to them to develop the penal law and establish true correctional facilities, we get them proposing amputating limbs and chopping off heads to combat crime, when we want to encourage tourism, they blindly and willingly categorise any concert as satanist and entice simpletons to riot to force a closure of a concert, and the list goes on…

brainfart!A joke? Not by a long shot.

It is their secret wish to change this country into an Islamist Wahabi extremist state living more than 1,400 years in the past.

It is their secret wish to encourage and applaud suicide bombers and see innocent blood flow in the streets of Bahrain.

It is their secret wish to want to kill anyone who simply opposes their twisted and moronic thoughts and beliefs, using their brand of Islam as justification.

But they are no secrets at all! They have come out and declared all of these factors in the very parliament we voted for in 2002!

The only time we will see a smile on their mugs is when they achieve their version of Bahrainistan, only then will they be happy:

Taliban Afghani religious policeman lashing someone who is not in the mosque during prayer time.

Are we to continue to stand around and let these brain-dead jokers control our lives? Are these the kind of people we really want to get into parliament again?

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Truth & Reconciliation!

The best news to come out of Bahrain for a very very long time… this could be the very thing we need to turn a new page for the whole community, after 30 very dark years:

Justice and reconciliation in the Bahrain reform process will come under the spotlight at a five-day conference organised by MPs and civil societies, which opens at Elite Suites Hotel in Sanabis tomorrow.

Bahraini MPs, members of human rights and political societies will join international human rights delegates from all over the world for the conference on Transitional Justice.

Parliament vice-chairman Abdulhadi Marhoun and Bahrain Society for Freedoms and Democracy (BSFD) president Ali Orrayedh will give the opening address at the conference.

Three papers on transitional justice in Bahrain will be presented by members of the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), the Committee for Former Exiles (Returnees) and the National Committee for Martyrs and Victims of Torture.

New York-based International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) director Hani Magali, Washington-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) office director and Middle East and North Africa division director Joe Stork and Morocco-based International Federation for Human Rights president and Moroccan Truth and Reconciliation Committee member Idrees Al Yazmi will open a second session, on aspects of transitional justice.
GDN :: 22 Apr ’06

I have been calling for a truth and reconciliation commission in Bahrain for some time now to start the dialogue and repair some of the damage meted out to a large portion of the society in the 90s and at other times. I am extremely happy and really encouraged that we finally have something like this happening in Bahrain now.

This is really excellent news.

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An historic day for our parliament

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Will they rise up to the challenge, or continue to disappoint?

Today they hold a special session to discuss and amend the Press Law which contains parts which necessitate imprisoning journalists for what they write.

The islamists – as expected – are all for imprisoning the writer AND his managing editor who dares challenge any of their beliefs and crosses what they mark as a red line. Demanding respect by terror, but not stopping of course at denigrating God, religions, the Qur’an and the Prophets, but going further by criminalising anyone who dares question the Prophet’s (Mohammed) companions and wives, and as a nod to the Shi’as I guess, the Prophet’s progeny.

The penalty for this is a minimum prison sentence of 3 months to 1 year AND a fine the minimum of which is BD 5,000 to 10,000.

I’m not sure how they could reconcile this over the top punishments when (a) the king specifically said that he is completely against jailing journalists for their thoughts, and (b) the constitution which specifically says that punishment should be individual rather than several.

I’m not sure either how they could reconcile this with the two agreements the king has signed (but parliament didn’t pass yet) which deal with the political and human rights as detailed by the United Nations.

The thing is, reading the papers since last Tuesday, several political parties have changed their tune (read Al-Wasat and Al-Waqt of today for analysis) and most are not doing away with imprisonment and replacing that with heavy fines.

We await the outcome of these special sessions… I just hope that they look at this law as an important democratic tool to insure Bahrain’s progress going forth, rather than some known numbskulls translating it into ways to get their own back at the press and handcuff journalists from exposing corruption and reporting the truth.

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Elections coming up!

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Finally, an official response to the various rumour mills about the elections in Bahrain. Although no date has actually been set yet, at least now we know that the elections will occur sometime this year. Which is a relief. Some thought that at least the parliamentary elections might get delayed a couple of years. Thankfully that doesn’t seem to be the case and my estimate is right smack-bang in the middle of when the government says that the elections must happen between (Aug – Dec ’06.)

So I’ll keep the countdown as it is; another 180 days or so to suffer these bozos and I hope and pray that at least the Islamists won’t see the inside of that chamber again… what with ALL of them proposing and supporting an amendment to the penal code to introduce the severing of thieves hands’ as a punishment, and fanning the flames of sectarian discord by the likes of an intellectually subnormal cretins like Al-Saidi and Mohammed Khalid.

Now, will the municipal and parliamentary elections be done on the same day? There is that possibility as the constitutional limits on when the elections for both should happen overlap in August. And August is a bad month in Bahrain, hot and it becomes a virtual ghost-town with everyone abroad on holidays.

Will the election districts be changed, so that the huge disproportionate representation between the more affluent south of the island when compared to the northern area?

Will the constitution be amended so that the Shura council contain less people than those elected in the House of Representatives? Or at least limit the Shura council’s authority?

Will the chair of the House of Representatives chair the joint sessions with the Shura council if and when a National Assembly is called for?

And most importantly will MPs be able to propose laws?

Too many questions and far too short a time left to get answers… What’s the government playing at?

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