Commenting on my article Field visit to Big Brother Arabia bahrainia wrote:
Mahmood, I respect and appreciate your very logical reasoning, and im glad we’ve taken the debate to a higher level. Why should I be offended, u were ever sooooo polite which is nice for a change:)
You raised important points which I have learned from. Im not against a businessman making a profit from fair trade.
What im essentially trying to question is the agenda in the media. Now, every newspaper, every TV channel, every internet site has an agenda, be one that belongs to an individual or a government or a businessman. No im not saying, its a conspiratorial agenda, but some sort of goal or framework in which the information they broadcast or publish is communicated with this in mind. When I say ‘islamic’ media. I dont mean one that is just full of sermons and historic dramas looking at victories past, the ‘golden era’ or whatever. Im saying one, that at least doesnt defy the religion. If you look at a standard Western channel, taking for example again the BBC, everything is kind of acceptable up until the 9pm watershed (ok excluding a few kisses and hugs here and there in some soaps- but these scenes will hardly go amiss if filtered out).
I gotta disagree with you. I found the ramadan program line up on most of the Arabic channels ‘quite’ entertaining, and some programs even made the headlines for their storylines. In line with the spiritual nature of ramadan anyway. About the different religions. Im all for pluralism, why not have a program for the other religions?
Actually Ive just met a very interesting kuwaiti lady finishing her PhD in islamic entertainment and recreation. I’ll post something when I have a chat with her about where to draw the line in entertainment. And Yes a line needs to be drawn somewhere. Pornography is entertainment (and very profitable indeed), and even for the sadisticly minded, paedophilia is entertaining, does that make it acceptable on a mainstream arab channel?
As for the constitution and the parliament, to be honest, it is by definition a non-contractual one. I know i’ll probably get bombarded with hate comments for saying this. But what ppl voted for in the National charter is not the same as what eventually came in the 2002 constitution. The National Charter only got the 98% yes vote after the King made certain promises regarding the power of the two parliamentary chambers- promises which he completely threw out of the window. Hence, I feel, like many others, that everything is based on a deception and I give no credibility to the so-called ‘democracy’ that exists in Bahrain whatsoever. Moreover, other issues such as the geographical boundaries that were drawn, were all made on sectarian lines. In addition, to the 100,000 politically naturalised, on top of the sectarian discrimination that exists in the country. This isnt a conspiracy theory, it is a fact. Then what pisses me off, is when I read comments as the one posted here, that all the ones following in this line are extremists and terrorists. Well what drives terrorism and rioting is poverty. True Al mo3awda sparked off the whole Ajram debacle with his statements, but in the end it was a few teenagers who rioted outside the concert hall, with no orders from anyone. Bahrainis are peaceful people, and islam is a religion of peace and harmony.
I felt compelled to split this topic from the original due to the various valid points raised. Here is my personal opinion on the matter:
It would indeed be interesting to find our what your Kuwaiti friend has to say about this subject, her opinion will be valuable as she arguably has researched the subject much more than I or the majority of people, that being her thesis. Good luck to her with that.
I have commented before that the limits of democracy and personal freedoms is a fine line which is defined essentially as “your freedom ends where someone else’s freedom begins”. The same is true of how to define the limits of freedoms of expression, be that in art, television, film, the written and spoken word or however a person in concurrence of current laws interprets his/her personal space for self expression.
Therefore the line in essence is hazy and not a single person can tell you where it lies, as everyone will bring their own personal prejudices and “historical baggage” to bear on defining where that line is or should be.
Let’s take some accepted art in international circles, does one regard the photography of Bill Brandt for instance of the female body as pornographic? There is no doubt that some people will take offense to his work as they will with a multitude of others’. Like Bill Brandt, they have every right to voice their opinions, but they surely shouldn’t have the right to tear down his photographs and destroy them.
Some people might regard pornography and pedophilia as another form of art and self expression which should be respected. This is a very difficult question and I cannot but apply my own prejudices to it: to me, I am personally against gratuitous pornography and will actively sensor its images when and if my own children are exposed to it through no fault of their own. It is also my responsibility as a parent to tell my children why I choose to censor that particular content. But this is me, a parent exercising our prerogative and imbuing our children with what we think is right and wrong simply to help them evaluate their own future choices in life.
I am however opposed to state/religious censorship in all its forms. I am strong advocate of freedoms of expression, and a strong believer that it is the responsibility of parents to educate their children of their interpretation of social norms.
Taking my views into consideration let me tell you this: We have several pornographic channels being broadcast on free-to-air and pay-per-view channels on satellite receivable in Bahrain, and obviously the rest of the Middle East. I do not have any free-to-air receiver myself, but have seen such channels at other locations. What I have is much more “destructive” and that is an always-on internet connection.
I have installed a network at home connected to a computer in every child’s room. I have a server through which everyone at home accesses the internet. There is no “filter” on the server to disable any particular site nor content. We (my wife and I) have however explained our expectations to our children and encouraged them to not go to such sites. We also told them that due to browser hijacking, viruses, worms etc they might be “pulled” to an innocent sounding site but its content we might find objectionable. If that happens they are encouraged to come and tell us about the experience and I will fix their computer by removing the virus or correct the browser hi-jacking. I have of course installed a virus checker on each and every computer. But I cannot blame them if they have been tricked into getting to a site they have no control over.
On installing the network at home, we made up a contract between us the parents and the child (we have 3) and each had to sign this contract and stick it up on their wall next to their screen. In it we detailed when they can use the internet (duration, after finishing all school homework, cleaning their rooms, etc.) and what to do if they find objectionable content, making especially sure that they understand that we will not punish them if they do inform us promptly. This worked very well. It’s been three or four years now. True to their word, they did inform us when they encountered problems with their browser, or they have clicked an innocent looking link in a spam email they have received etc. We know that we can trust them now because of this experiment.
I agree that the 2002 Constitution was a surprise, and I applaud the various political activists and some members of parliament’s efforts at redressing the balance lost by the birth of this document. There is outright rejection and on the other hand full acceptance. Such is the polarisation of our society in this issue.
My personal view is this: the ballot was cast and parliamentarians elected based on the 2002 constitution. For although the Charter for National Action is a legal document, it is not the constitution, it was a referendum on “fundamental law and visions” and as it has been approved by 98.4% of the populace. If 55% (I forget the actual figure of people voted) then cast their ballots and choose their representatives regardless of any other issue at hand, then the majority of the country have chosen this new constitution as a binding document between the government and its citizens.
Yes the demarcation of electoral districts was obviously wrong and imbalanced. Yes perceivably wrongly and politically motivated naturalised citizens did vote. But as the vote was cast, the outcome must be respected.
If fault is to be borne by anyone then surely it must be the opposition! It was their responsibility to ensure that the people knew their point of view and explain why they are boycotting the elections. It was their responsibility in which they abjectly failed in transmitting the message to the populace that what they are voting for is an aborted democracy with a changed, non-binding and one-sided contract. But because of their divided nature and their inability to coordinate their efforts, they have lost the battle.
Now we have an elected parliament, we have an accepted constitution by the majority of the public, and we have a framework to change that constitution. We have to use the methods allowed under the constitution to change it. We have to depend on our chosen representatives to change it and ensure that it gets event better than the constitution of 1973. And the “outsiders”, ie the societies who boycotted the elections must review their position in society and create a clear vision and collective strategy to induce this change, not by violence and rhetoric, but by clear steps to be adopted such as working hand-in-hand with the chosen representatives of the people.
So why did 55% of the population vote? In my view it is because they saw these societies as serving a certain sect, religion, or ethnic belonging, rather than the whole of Bahrain.
Why should someone from Riffa care or give a whit what Al-Wifaq does or says? Al-Wifaq markets itself ONLY for shi’as! What political party in the world is allowed to even exist if its (hidden) declaration is to a certain ethnic and religious sect or sub-sect? Does that mean that a Sunni from Muharraq will not be able to join the ranks of Al-Wifaq? How about a Shi’a from Duraz attempting to join Al-Asala?
These “societies” should not be allowed to exist legally. What they do is divide the society and propagate the segregationist policies of failed ideology (no, I’m not talking about Islam here).
A political party should not be allowed to restrict its membership to a religion, sect or thought. They should be allowed only to convene with the ultimate and only view to strengthen national unity and work towards a goal of the betterment of the country as a whole, not a sub-sect of society. The political party must be open to all sects, religions, and ethnic background to gain legitimacy with its own people.
Hence, political parties by definition MUST be irreligious, but have an active and well thought of agenda to raise the standard of living of the whole country, not just a collection of cities, towns or villages. It should concern itself with guarding and guaranteeing freedoms of expression, creativity and invention. It must actively seek out laws which prevent incoming investment opportunities and negate them. It must protect the dignity of the human being. Not be exclusive to a certain group.
This is the failing of all political societies in Bahrain. I just hope – as I am sure you do to – that they will realise this failing and put in mechanism to correct the situation. Before all is lost.
What happens in the absence of all of this infrastructure and ideology is riots, terrorism and corruption. Adel Al-Moawdah is absolutely responsible for the riots and the untold damage done to local business opportunities.
His declaration that he will forever “fight vice and promote virtue every time an event like this happens” referring to whenever a singer is invited to the island to perform, should have automatically disqualified him from parliament as these comments absolutely were the ignition point of the riots.
It is ironic that he instigated this event, but the executors where his diametric opposites: it was Shi’as who demonstrated and destroyed, while he is an abject Wahabi Salafi who traditionally are completely opposed to Shi’as and their ideas.
So parliamentarians’ comments carry much farther than their immediate circle, other people with their own agendas will use them to their own effects. This of course demonstrates the naivety of not only Adel Al-Moawdah and his ilk, but the whole parliamentary exercise in Bahrain.
But then, haven’t we had 30 years’ experience in parliamentary life? No, what we had is 2 years of parliamentary life 30 years ago, long forgotten and its proponents largely dead. The only survivor of that era is Al-Dhahrani, the chairman of the Council of Representatives. And he amply demonstrated his unsuitability when he urged and begged the parliament to “let him fix the problem of GOSI and the Pension fund directly with the government!” This is the chairman of the parliament urging this infant democracy to go the route of nepotism and personal relationships rather than work within the framework of the constitution!
So if a representative of the “golden era” of Bahraini parliamentary life is so at odds with the concept of democracy and institutions, the very one who was elected to this exalted position by his colleagues largely due to his “experience” and “sagacity” due to his involvement with the 1975 dissolved parliament, why should we even care for a dated document like the 1973 constitution?
The method is certainly wrong, but the concept is correct. I’ve read somewhere that a medieval king would give his right arm to have the wide ranging powers that our King has given himself! And that is true when you look closely at the 2002 constitution. The fact remains however that the constitution is not a Heavenly inviolate text, hence it is our collective responsibility to work within the current framework to achieve a proper end-result, and that is to change the constitution to be a current, encompassing, and empowering essence to the Bahraini citizen.
Having Islamists in parliament gravely concerned with the morals of society, a television show, and a concert will not lead us unto a path of human dignity and creativity, just to abject poverty and ruin.