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Satanwala rises anew

Pouting Islamist MP Salah Ali the Muslim Brotherhoods bloc head in Bahrain

And he’s got a new recruit too. The surprising thing – well, unsurprising really – is that this “phenomenon” seems to be a feature of the Muslim Brotherhood specifically. First it was our effervescent Mo Khalid, the original Satanwala, then now it’s the big kahuna at Al-Menbar Islamic Society who has done some “good Internet research” into this “phenomenon” and as in today’s Al-Wasat, he has lectured about it to kids at the old age pensioner’s home in Hidd.


Let’s read what he has to say about it and educate ourselves from this font of knowledge:

كم أعمارهم؟

وبحسب علي، فإن من تم القبض عليهم من أعضاء عبدة الشيطان في غالبية الدول العربية تتراوح أعمارهم ما بين 15 و24 سنة، وأنهم من خريجي المدارس الأجنبية، ولا يعرفون شيئاً عن الإسلام على رغم أنهم مسلمون، كما أنهم لا يحفظون الفاتحة ولا أياً من سور القرآن، ولا يعرفون أركان الإسلام ولا معنى الشهادتين، ولا أياً من القيم الإسلامية، على حد قوله.

كيف يتعارفون؟

وأفاد علي بأن لعبدة الشيطان أسلوباً في التعارف يكون بصبغ الشعر باللون الأسود وحلق الشارب وقص اللحية بشكل غريب ووضع الكحل حول العين ولبس الملابس السوداء اللماعة وإطالة الشباب شعرهم وربطه من الخلف وارتداء بعضهم قرطاً فضياً في أذنيه ولبس السلاسل والقلادات التي ترمز لشعارهم وعقيدتهم، وتطيل الفتيات أظافرهن ويستعملن «روجاً أسود» مع ارتداء ملابس رسمت عليها أشكال غريبة مثل الجماجم وصور لأشخاص يقولون عنهم إنهم مساعدو الشيطان.

من حفلاتهم

ووصف علي خلال اللقاء مع الشباب طريقة حفلات عبدة الشيطان، وذكر أنهم يذهبون إلى مقابر ثم يستخرجون جثث الموتى كما يقومون بذبح قطة أو كلب صغير يلطخون بدمائه وجوههم وأيديهم ويشربون منه، ثم يقومون بالدوران في دائرة حتى يرضى عنهم الشيطان، وإذا لم تتوافر هذه الحيوانات يخدشون أيديهم حتى تسيل الدماء منهم بعدها يتعاطون المخدرات وحبوب الهلوسة على أنغام موسيقي «الروك» الشهيرة.

عبدة الشيطان في البحرين

ولم يغفل اللقاء التطرق إلى عبدة الشيطان في البحرين، إذ قال النائب علي: «إن أحد الحاضرين للحفلات الشيطانية وهو طالب في المرحلة الإعدادية تلقى دعوة للحضور من جماعة مجهولة نظمت 3 لقاءات منذ العام الماضي في البحرين، في حين تجاوز عدد الحضور 100 شخص من عبدة الشيطان غالبيتهم من الشباب تتراوح أعمارهم ما بين 15 و22 عاماً».

وكشف علي عن أن حفلات عبدة الشيطان في البحرين أقيمت في عدة أماكن، منها الشقق المفروشة المستأجرة، المزارع الخاصة، صحراء الصخير، فلل أحد الأعضاء، حجز قاعة بالفنادق، وصالات الأندية الأجنبية.

Satanic Star

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Salah Ali has defined – with his extensive Internet research and a dolefull of hearsay – who, what, where, when and the whatfors of Satan Worship; let me elucidated – briefly mind you – the gist of what he says:

    1. Those who have been apprehended in most of the Arab countries are aged between 15 and 24 and they are private school graduates and don’t know anything about Islam even though they are Muslim, and they do not memorise the Fatiha or any of the other Quranic suras and they do not know any of the pillars of Islam nor the meaning of the two shahadas and none of the Islamic values.
    2. They get to know each other by dying their hair black and shaving their moustaches and shaping their beards
    3. They wear shiny black clothes and let their hair grow so that they tie it from behind (as in ponytail) and some wear ear rings
    4. sorry this is just getting too disgusting for me to continue to translate, here’s Google to do the dirty for you if you are that interested, or read the original text referred to in Al-Wasat above.

But basically, the hugely popular and elected Member of Parliament, the representative of ALL Bahrainis, is casting stones on large segments of society, and you know what? He’ll once again get away with it; here we have him categorically and in print categorising whom he calls “Satanists” to be those who are in:

    1. In private schools
    2. come from rich or middle class families
    3. who wear black
    4. Salafis and other Islamists such as himself
    5. What, weren’t you paying attention to his second point above?

    6. The youth of both sexes between 15 – 24
    7. Who like rock music
    8. Party in private clubs, etc

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen, this is what you pay for, now sit back and enjoy the show.

The words moronic rather than satanic comes to mind when I read this “report”. Another one for the anals of journalism me thinks.


Bahraini wins Miss Arab World contest!

Bahraini Wafa Yaqoob crowned Miss Arab World 2007 in Cairo

Bahrain’s Wafa Yaqoop beat 19 other candidates to win the Miss Arab World 2007 title on Friday.

Yaqoop is Bahrain’s first ever contestant in the event.

Candidates to the contest held in Egypt came from 16 Arab countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Sudan, Iraq, Libya and Palestine.

The jury consisted of fashion, beauty and tourism experts as well as academies and the finalists were chosen from more than 10,000 participants who registered through internet.

The first Miss Arab World Contest was held in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El Shaikh last year.
Gulf News

Good on ya Wafa! Much congratulations and onwards to better and bigger things.


The Housing Problem

Bahrain 2030 Master Plan by SOM

The topic du jure is housing. My friends Tawfiq Al-Rayyash is livid that one of his ex-colleagues at Al-Wefaq political society has suggested that Bahrainis should go vertical – we should be content enough to live in flats rather than houses – but in the process, Tawfiq also shares with us some juicy details of the inner workings of Al-Wefaq!

Mohammed Maskati is teed off too, but from the angle that the Ministry of Housing has now put procedures in place that only those who earn less than BD900 in combined salaries (working couples) are now ineligible for subsidized government housing, and as he is fortunate enough to earn much higher than that limit, he feels that he is left unfairly out although Bahrainis are constitutionally guaranteed adequate housing and jobs.

Guys, I understand your frustration but although I am thankful that I own a house, financed through sheer hard work over 15 years in business I was able to save the required down payment and plonk it down to buy it. It will be a while before I pay the off the loan, but I am happy enough to do so.

The inability to buy a house of my choosing and the lifestyle that I wanted were actually the chief reason for me leaving Gulf Air all those years ago although I was earning much higher than the current BD900/1200 limits, I saw that “a salary” will never allow me to live the way I want to live. So I opted out and started my own business and that has been difficult to be sure, but the reward at the end is worth it.

I am no where near the goal of self sufficiency and I am already seriously looking into ways to double my income. There is no way that I could do that by holding a job.

My advice? Manage your finances and create and abide by a personal priority list. Read Ammar’s excellent pointers on managing your finances and start implementing them now. If you feel that you don’t have time and want to have that house NOW, then maybe you should think of creative business ideas (which are full time, part time for this just doesn’t work) and start making your “serious” money! But that’s just a pipe dream as businesses can very easily fail and do carry various risks. There is unfortunately no easy short-cut for you to take.

Either way, I would rather not wait for a hand-out from the government – even though it is my constitutional right to have subsidized housing provided for me – and go out there and get it myself and that’s exactly what I did.

But let’s put things in perspective: the housing provided by the government and its subsidies for this housing/land purchase/building/renting etc is meant specifically really for those with limited income and those who earn BD900 and above could hardly be called limited income! Those are well within “the middle class”. The issue then transforms into that person’s inability to buy a house or land to build on because of the prices involved. Well, let’s look into that: Bahrain Credit asks for 25% as down payment and they would be happy to finance for 15 years.

I know in other societies, first time buyers are encouraged to buy small and then sell and move up the scale as their financial abilities become better. Taking this principal in mind, an average first-time house or flat would be in the range of BD50,000 – 75,000. The down payment required (BC KFH) would be in the range of BD12,500 – 18,750. If a young couple both work and save BD500 per month from their combined salary they would need just 25-38 months. That’s a reasonable timescale I think.

If you would rather wait until you can afford to buy a BD500,000 house then you’d probably be ill-advised in doing so as the waiting period is far too long for most people and all that time you are waiting you’re paying rent which does amount to a considerable sum.

The above, I think, is not the real issue though – but detractors are latching on to it because it is an easy to understand issue, they know the level of frustration associated with it and they also know that their audience will be receptive to what’s coming next, the real issues they want to tackle: absence of social justice, unequal distribution of land and wealth (pdf – 8.6MB – arabic), etc.

Unfortunately, doing it this way brings passion into it and it becomes an emotive issue which robs it of its importance. These entangled issues should be separated and explained in a concise manner to people so that they can be realistically identified and addressed to seek resolution. Continuing to shout that “we don’t have affordable housing” and then point at the vast tracts of undeveloped land while the Ministry of Housing continuing to maintain that all but 3% of the land is available to it to develop for the public good (97% in private hands) just mushes up the issues.


BBC’s “Crossing Continents” does Bahrain

Posted on

Bill Law will be persona non-grata for a while in Bahrain I guess after this program and his Telegraph article about our fair isle.

Unrest in paradise
direct link to radio program which might be customarily removed a week after it is broadcast

Bahrain is increasingly featured in holiday brochures as a relaxing winter-sun destination for the weary north European.

The image Bahrain projects is one of a wealthy, progressive and open society – an evolving Arab democracy.

But there is a different story behind the prosperity and glitz.


BBC Radio 4’s Crossing Continents was broadcast on Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 1102 BST.
It will be repeated on Monday, 30 July 2007 at 2030 BST.

Presenter: Bill Law
Producer: Linda Pressly
Editor: Maria Balinska


Campaign launched to bring Henderson to justice

Please help in bringing the Butcher of Bahrain to justice!

A campaign spearheaded by the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights has been started to bring the former head of the security apparatus in Bahrain – Mr. Ian Henderson, to justice. The intention is to try to get the campaign to gain momentum throughout the world, not just Bahrain, by sending letters of objections to the Bahraini government and the UN expressing solidarity with the idea to bring Mr. Henderson – dubbed The Butcher of Bahrain – to justice as part of our much needed national reconciliation.

Should you wish to participate (please do!) either copy the button on the right and past it on your blog or get any of a selection of banners from the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights website.


Welcome welcome Mr. Henderson!

Ian Henderson with wife talking Dr. Saeed Al-Shehabi at London Heathrow Airport before departing to Bahrain

Your exalted excellency, you are in excellent company here, sir, do relax and enjoy the festivities in your honour and let whoever asks for reparations with your past be damned. You are – after all – a retired gentleman of 81 and could not be held responsible for bygone eras, surely. The world’s powers – to one of which you belong – have turned a blind eye, and why shouldn’t they, it has become their culture. Generations who will continue to have nightmares for the rest of their lives and those who succeed them be damned. The almighty Pound and Dollar rule supreme.

Welcome welcome your excellency, to the land of milk and honey!


Fishing, in numbers

Bahrain and the sea

People can’t really measure the impact of the fishing industry’s destruction in this country because they don’t particularly know the numbers, nor – most probably – do they have a direct contact with those affected to actually know the levels involved.

Enter a report released today by the Oxford Business Group to put things in perspective:

Bahrain is still a net exporter of seafood, with the overseas trade worth an estimated $1.35m in 2005, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s International Trade Centre (ITC). However, this was well down on the $13m export total for the year before, a direct result of the collapse of shrimp stocks in the waters around the kingdom. Shrimp and shellfish exports fell from $11m in 2004 to just $95,000 in just 12 months, ITC figures showed.

One of the main threats to Bahrain’s shrinking fish stocks is the fall out from expansion, both of the economy and of the country itself. Dredging to deepen shipping access routes around Bahrain’s islands and reclamation projects to extend the amount of waterfront land available for development have affected some of the ecosystem.

Does it make sense now? Do you see how 4,000 fishermen’s families are suffering because of this desperate situation?

Help is at hand, though, but only because of the local press, Al-Wasat Newspaper specifically, highlighting these issues. Since they first published the picture of those hundreds of dead fish washed up on the shores of Tubli bay and subsequently followed up on that issue, did the government actually wake up and try to do something about this devastating situation.

Now, as the OBG report states, the government is considering compensating those fishermen whose livelihood has been affected by the environmental impact of dredging, development and waste treatment by the end of this year. They are – thankfully – also considering creating new artificial reefs to encourage fish to breed and hopefully compensate those that have been driven from what was a very rich environment in Tubli bay.

Let us also hope that with the concerted combined efforts of the press and the environmentalists to highlight the degradation of the environment and present their findings in an appropriate way so that people understand the impending danger in a tangible way and for us to then adopt these issues at a grass roots level which will definitely force the government and law makers to put in place legislation and plans to rescue our rather limited environment.


The Elders

Nelson Mandela

Within our culture, as is present in others, there is quite a lot of respect for the elders of a family, village, and country. They are always accorded much respect and their words of wisdom sought especially at difficult times. When they speak, people listen and disputes are generally resolved.

It is with this vision that Sir Richard Branson and Peter Gabrial launched a tremendous initiative to sponsor a council of elders to include much respected world figures where it is hoped that they will tackle difficult subjects by exercising their moral authority.

“The Elders” which has been launched yesterday during Nelson Mandela’s 89th birthday celebrations also includes luminaries like retired archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan and Mary Robinson. It will ultimately consists of 12 people, none of whom hold a current public office and all of whom are recognised for their passionate work in human rights and are deeply concerned for the world and our environment and have tangible contributions in their own countries and the world at large. They are beyond personal egos.

Although their mandate is yet to be fully announced, some statements have already been made to frame their work:

Mandela states in remarks prepared for Wednesday that the fact that none of The Elders holds public office allows them to work for the common good, not for outside interests.

“This group can speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and behind the scenes on whatever actions need to be taken,” the remarks state. “Together we will work to support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict, and inspire hope where there is despair.”
IHT – 17 July, ’07

I do wish them much luck in their much needed endeavours and salute Richard Branson and Peter Gabrial for their vision and humanity. They have demonstrated that everybody can made a difference.

I hope that The Elders will cast their eyes on this turbulent region and through the exercise of their moral authority spread peace and maybe also entice some of our errant leaders to relinquish their control and let our people live with some happiness and dignity.


Not much bigger than the people

Being close to the people, without a thick layer of fat in between, is a mark of good governance.

This guy continues to lead, while maintaining his humbleness:

Shaikh Mohammed surprised a local by accepting his invitation for lunch at the citizens home
click image to enlarge

Amazing. We need some of this here please. This is the kind of spontaneous PR that earns the love of the people and goes a long way in inculcating unity. There are other steps that need to be taken of course, but this – the ability to be close to the people without “maraseem” – goes a long way.

Hat tip Qassimiyat


Kudos GPIC too!

The GoodNews™ continues!

GPIC arranged during the first half of this year attendance by its employees of several training courses in Bahrain and abroad, in addition to organising many courses at its Training Centre and GPIC Club, at a total cost of around $1m.

GPIC - receiving awards

In recognition of GPIC’s achievements for providing decent living conditions for its employees and efforts to improve their living conditions, the company recently received the Dubai International Awards for Best Practices in Improvement of Living Conditions 2006.

The award is supervised by the Dubai Municipality and the UN Human Settlements Programme.

Sixteen employees were promoted in various departments and seven new employees joined the company following the completion of their training programmes, raising the level of Bahrainisation to 82pc.

In addition, there are 57 trainees who are involved in intensive training programmes which will raise the Bahrainisation level to 92pc when the trainees take over their new jobs in the near future, said Mr Jawahery.

GPIC also recently received the international occupational safety and health award from the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents UK for the second time and after winning the Oil and Gas Sector Award from the same Society for three successive years.

In addition, GPIC received the GCC Award for the Best Environmental Achievements in 2005 and 2006.
GDN – 18 July, ’07

GPIC has always been known for its support of the environment and probably is the company which wilfully and comprehensively subscribes to a sustained CSR principle. Well done!