Tag Archives parliament

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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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.

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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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The National ID “smart card” idea continues to take hold

yet no answers to the questions I asked are forthcoming, even though the same article has been sent twice to the national papers in Bahrain. No one seems to be interested in protecting their most basic of human rights: privacy. Amazing.

Now the BDF (Bahrain Defence Forces) Hospital which is one of the leading hospitals on the island just signed a contract to use these cards to access patient records, lab tests and various other information.

DOCTORS and paramedics will soon have instant access to life-saving information on patients, thanks to Bahrain’s smart card system.

BDF Hospital yesterday signed an agreement with the Central Informatics Organisation, which will make it the first hospital to implement the system.

People’s medical records will be saved on the new “smart” Central Population Register (CPR) cards, which will be introduced early next year.

This will give doctors, paramedics and other medical staff instant access to vital information, said Royal Medical Services commander Brigadier Dr Shaikh Salman bin Atiyatallah Al Khalifa.

“Paramedics will be able to get the medical information of the patient’s smart card and that will help them determine the best course of treatment,” he said.

“They could also inform the hospital en route of the patient’s condition electronically, by using a GSM device that will be installed in the ambulance, helping staff at the hospital to assess the condition more accurately.”

Great. Although it can and most probably will save people’s lives because doctors will have information about the patient at their fingertips through this smart card, we still don’t know – and it appears that we never will know – how that information is stored, secured and accessed. Who has access to what information stored on the card?

Next step… take this complaint to the parliament.

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To hell with democracy.. bring back the old ways

For the first time in my life I voted for the Bahraini Parliament. Now I know that I should not have bothered. Democracy is not worth it and it doesn’t work in the Arab world in general and Bahrain in particular.

They have been operating now since October 2002. Almost a full term considering that they’ve just voted to take 3 months off for summer! They want to be addressed as “your excellency”. They insist on getting Mercedes S320 cars with drivers. They get between BD 2,000 and 3,000 per month, maybe more if they’re involved in various committees and shall not be surprised if they also get overtime pay.

What the bloody hell are these people doing? Did they do a single thing since taking office to better the way of life in Bahrain?

Consider this:

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