Thursday, March 31, 2005

In the name of egalitarianism

In this day and age, some ridiculous things are done in the name of equality of the sexes, I suggest a few more important things that need to be done for the sake of gender egalitarianism:

In the name of egalitarianism, single sex toilets should be abolished.

In the name of egalitarianism, high street stores should not segregate their clothing ranges - home delivary catalogues too.

Titles like Mr, Miss, Mrs, Ms are sexist too and should go.

In the name of egalitarianism, sport should be mixed, starting with football.

In the name of egalitarianism, men should take pills to develop fully-functional milk-producing breasts to feed babies so women can go to work.

In the name of egalitarianism, gender should be eliminated all together.

In the name of egalitarianism, scientists should clone an asexual genderless human with a womb and a penis for self-fertilisation.

In the name of egalitarianism, god should be a woman sometimes (as recently suggested by certain feminists remaining nameless). She is sexist because she was unfair when creating man and his physiology.

In the name of god, why the hell is it so difficult to accept gender differences exist for their own sake?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I got wires...

I've been on a field course all last week. Got back last night, but feel like I have a hangover today; head thumping, dark circles, fatigue. Anyways, as I was stuck in traffic this song, Wires by Athlete was playing. Not much of a british urban music fan but the lyrics are my national anthem right now combined with the bri'ish accent to top it off, im lovin it. Yeah mate awight keep it real the chav way.

You got wires, going in
You got wires, coming out of your skin
There's dry blood, on your wrist
Your dry blood, on my fingertip

Running down corridors
Through automatic doors
Got to get to you, got to see this through
I see hope is here, in a plastic box
I've seen christmas lights, reflect in your eyes

Deep stuff or what.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Constitutional reforms FIRST

If looks could kill, then Jaleela Alsayed is a serial murderer. Her stern unfaltering gaze and the resolute aura of confidence that emanates from the podium when she takes the stand is apparent on the few occasions she chooses to address an audience. Voted Bahraini Woman of the Year in 2004 by Alwasat's readers, primarily for the lead she took in organizing last year's notorious Constitutional conference which like everything else round here, led to confrontation with the government who spared no lengths at attempting to stop the event- from forcing the hotel manager of the venue to cancel his contract, to refusing entry to foreign participants, Alsayed had to come face to face with her ex-colleague on the National Charter Committee, the Minister of Labour who threatened the organizing societies with closure.

Ok, so she may not have had many contenders for the Award. We aren't exactly overflowing with pioneering women who have influenced the public sphere even if u do count the token women in government. A respected lawyer with international credentials, she was a member of the Supreme Council of Women- a media glorified group of handpicked women chosen by the King's wife probably as a poor excuse for getting out bed in the morning, palace-life can get tedious you see. Later she was also chosen to be part of the Committee to promote the National Charter and market it to the public, especially women. It was in this role that I had first met her.

On 14th February 2002, the day the Bahraini ppl, as Emoodz puts it, were fooled, it appears that Alsayed was as shocked, if not more shocked than everyone else at the undemocratic amendments made to the constitution which severely restricts civil liberties (see La Monde article ) having been a misguided campaigner for the King's initiative in the first place. She immediately handed in her resignation for all government/official positions she held, helped write the legal paper that sought to prove the illegitimate way the King amended the constitution and switched to oppositing ranks. As an independent figure, she was chosen by the four boycotting societies to head the Committee that implements the proposals agreed in the constitutional conferences. The latest being a national demonstration that will be held this Friday (25th March) under this year's slogan of "Constitutional Reforms First", in addition to a rally held late yesterday attended by over 4000 people.

If we zoom-out for a moment, you will realize that all the recent problems in Bahrain, the eighties, the nineties, and the new millennium spill into a a popular constitutional movement that began in 1973 when the late-Amir dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution ending a democratic experiment that lasted 2 years from 1973-1975. The constitution, being the social contract that bind the ruler with his people needs to be defined, and hence the slogan CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS FIRST. If not, the four main political societies, will boycott the 2006 elections again.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Bahrain's Shawshank

Abdulemam's latest post describes his experience of being arrested on 28th February and detained for 16 days. He notes the irony of being repeatedly questioned on his 'national loyalty' and love for his country by a non-bahraini chief officer (an egyptian).

He emphasizes that the case is NOT over. The General Prosecutor is still building a case, and has summoned several people as prosecution witnesses since their release. When will the court case begin and how long it will take no one knows. The Committee supporting the Bahrainonline trio is still campaigning for the charges to be dropped and organising protests and rallies. Here are photos of 21st March protest.

Meanwhile, in the latest edition of Aldemokrati magazine there is a fascinating TRUE story (in arabic) recounting the way a young man called Abdulla Tooq and another inmate, arrested in 1996, escaped from Jow prison in 1997 using an ingenious plot that involved shutting down the electricity in the prison compound. A risky plot like this had two possible outcomes: freedom or death if it goes wrong.

Escaping through a pipe, and into the outside world, he lived in hiding for 8 months in Bahrain, managed to sneak out of the country, to another Gulf country, then onto Malaysia, finally reaching the safe shores of New Zealand where he is now living. No this isnt something out of Hollywood, this happened in Bahrain! All the while I was reading the article I was reminded of scenes from one of my favourite movies, the Shawshank Redemption. He doesn't miss out on any details either, recollecting how he saved the toenails that were ripped off his feet by Adel Flaiful (notorious officer or should I say more like a war criminal) and tried to show them to the judge before he was sentenced to life imprisonment on fabricated charges.

Part 1: [1] [2] [3] Part 2: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Many other political detainees have their own stories to tell. One of our family friends had gone to the extent of dressing up as a women, hiding in the back of a lorry and into Iran, where he lived till 2001.

Next week from 24th March-1st April is Martyr's Week where there is a program of activities in remembrance of the many people who died in the nineties in the name of civil liberty. Concluding with a human chain that will be begin near the American Ambassador's residence on Friday 1st April. Someone has also taken the effort to compile a photo gallery of Isa Qambar, executed by a shot in the head in the nineties on a fabricated charge of murder.

What strikes me about all these different activities (articles, remembrance services, photo galleries among many other things) coming from many different sources is that people are not letting this issue go and are still seeking some form of justice. Will they get any response or is this just a way of dealing with grief and seeking comfort in collective mourning?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Zere iz Sumazing wrong wiza zith thithtem

There is only one english language accent barely comprehensible and worse than Scottish, and that is the cacophony of an Egyptian talking in english with a LISP. It is torture to listen to. The grimace on my face is hard to conceal everytime this particular Egyptian colleague of mine insists on making verbal noise that is supposed to be a comment. Has no one heard Mubarak speak english?

PS Hello all Guardian Newsblog Readers!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Queen of Fruits

I tried some of these the other day:

They are called Mangosteens, grown in Thailand, where they are known as the "Queen of Fruit".

And the taste!!!! Its a combination of apricots and peaches and raspberries and mangos and every sweet fruit you can think of, in succulent white flesh. Does anyone know if they sell them in Bahrain and where? Soug almarkazi (central market) maybe?

Can't wait to dig in an entire box.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Bahrain: the royals rule

In the March edition of Le Monde Diplomatique:
President George Bush has hailed Bahrain’s progress towards democracy. Yet Bahrain’s emir proclaimed himself king three years ago, promulgated a constitution giving him full powers and has attacked the few remaining civil liberties. Arbitrary imprisonment is commonplace and one of the main human rights organisations has been closed.

The journalist 'tells it like it is' and gives an excellent exposition of recent events since the Amir came to power in 1998. Had he waited a month, he could have added another two paragraphs on the clampdown on free speech and the UN recommendations on discrimination. I really recommend reading it for anyone who wishes to understand the reason behind the political stalemate between the government and opposition over the Constitution.

Opposition movements were preparing to celebrate the first anniversary of the adoption of the charter when, on 14 February 2002, the emir proclaimed himself king. The next day, on opening their newspapers, they discovered he had promulgated a new constitution, which had been decided without prior consultation and came into force immediately.

There was no longer any social contract between the monarch and his sovereign people. The constitution set up a parliament, divided into an upper and lower chamber. The 40 members of the Council of Deputies (lower chamber) would be directly elected.

But the king would appoint the 40 members of the Shura Council (upper chamber), an advisory body originally set up in 1992. He would also name the prime minister and cabinet, members of the constitutional court and all judges.

I'll make it a permanent link in my sidebar as 'Background information' when I get the chance.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Quick round

......with a perfect set of nails to top it all off. Our very own 2-in-1 Angelina

Monday, March 14, 2005


Free at last, the Bahrainonline crew have been released WITHOUT bail!

What a relief.

I have a feeling its not the last we'll here from these three. The charges haven't been dropped and the Solidarity Committee will continue its protests till the case is closed. A statistic: the officers had gathered around 700 thousand articles from, of which 10 break the law and NOT written by any of the three. I look forward to their account of events.

Apparantly the police officers have been hassling the families to pay up so they can chuck their sons out of jail since yesterday. Lesson learnt: next time your a prisoner of conscience, refuse bail. You can save yourself up to 1000BD or more!

Well ladies and gentleman, this saga has given you a minor glimpse into the way things work in Bahrain. You can be detained on a whim and released on a whim in a land with a long discredited judicial system.

Thank you for all you're support, i'm sure their release was a result of our collective campaigning efforts in Bahrain and out of Bahrain. A special thanks to the Committee for the Protection of Bloggers, it is a relief to know that you're there just in case anyone else gets arrested!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

A price for freedom

Following the developments earlier on today, in which the detained Bahrainonline trio were given the choice of being released on 1000BD bail each or detained for another 15 days while the case against them continues, the trio chose option number 2. A brave choice for the following reasons:

(1) your freedom is priceless.
(2) your freedom should be unconditional.
(3) 3000BD ($8000) all together is a lot of money by Bahraini standards (in Bahrain you don't get your bail money back apparently.)
(4) they'd rather not live under the uncertainty of being summoned at any moment
(5) taking a moral confrontation for their politically motivated arrest.

Good news is they have been moved to Dry Dock prison where prison standards are higher than Hoora police station. Following the fulfillment of this demand, they quit the hunger strike they started yesterday.

What will the government gain from these arrests? Your guess is as good as mine. Clearly, the defiance shown from the three and their supporters indicates that Bahrainonline will NOT be closed down. Like someone said to me, they can start another 10 Bahrainonline's within a day if need be. What price they are made to pay for this if convicted in a 'court of law' is another issue, today they had a choice, tomorrow after a verdict is announced they probably will not. One thing we know from previous notorious court cases (namely the Khawaja case) is that someone out there has already decided the outcome beforehand and are having fun writing the script.

This strategic moves takes a page from the American civil rights movement. "In their most effective moments, civil rights leaders forced a moral confrontation and did not shy away from jail if it meant being able to expose repression." (Or Does It Explode on Egyptian Ayman Noor)

I just couldn't resist this photo I saw on Such a cutieeeeeee :

The battle of wills continues, and its another night in a cold prison cell for the three.

Friday, March 11, 2005

My ideology

I have been on a course all week that is supposed to change the way I think forever. At least that is what the course instructor said. There are two days left, and i'm certain that it already has.

He started off with one question and a brainstorming session, "What is wrong with the Muslims, the Muslim community and the Muslim Ummah?". Questions that thinkers and scholars have themselves been debating over the last 100 years. Why are Muslims seemingly comfortable with the digressing state of affairs in the islamic world and the status quo?

Many predictable answers were given, mentality, attitude, identity crisis, colonialism, Western hegemony, political systems that repress free-thought, economic factors etc. My answer was, the lack of a cohesive ideology for the ummah in the face of a postmodern supremist threat. Immediately I noted the gentle nod and smile on his face as he said "this is the course for you". He pointed out that "ideology"-associated with dogma- may not be the most appropriate word, preferring to use the phrase "idea system".

After much philosophical and psychological debate discussing the "I", how our emotional setting, value system and instincts form a mindset that affects our awareness, Platonism, Empiricism and loads of other stuff I haven't had a chance to swallow yet I had an idea of the thought-structure he was aiming to build in us. Yesterday we reached the juicy part; developing an idea system that is anchored in the divine text we call the Quran. What makes this different from every thing else i've heard over the years is that it doesn't use theology. It is a way of looking at religion from a different perspective all together, a much broader perspective. Quite shockingly, he claims this hasn't ever been done before. Apparantly, i'm one of the guinea pigs. I told him to play around with my mind all he likes as it needs some fine-tuning in many places.

The course has been a real eye-opener for me and has launched me onto a discourse that I have been searching for over the past two years. Now I feel I have a blueprint on which to base my thoughts and my efforts. Call it indoctrination or call it what you may, but it has lighted the path for me and provided me with a framework that can consolidate the knowledge I have gained here and there since I started this journey two years ago. I'm also really interested in taking this project further and documenting it.

I was toying with the idea of starting a parallel blog in which I would write everything down. But to be honest I wanted to keep it private (I can't quite figure out how to have a private blog yet). For once I want to write for myself and not for an audience and actually make blogging useful in my self-development. I'm sure no one is interested anyway.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Where do u think ur goin?

Demonstrations in Bahrain are just no fun if some arrests arn't thrown in with a pinch of tear gas for added spice. The extent of the police presence in today's protest demanding the release of the three Bahrainonline website moderators however was unprecedented. The security forces literally formed a wall face-to-face with the protestors that could have led to provocation and confrontation. You can watch a video of the demonstration here. And fotos courtesy of here.

Quite frankly, I won't be subtle about by my disgust at the way the authorities use mercenaries from Beluchistan and Yemen in the security forces to come face-to-face with the country's citizens. Its stirs such anger and hatred within me and no doubt in most of the youth standing opposite them. How dare they bring foreigners and then use them against they're own people. My mind just cannot comrehend this fact and the pictures talk for themselves.

The entire Exhibition Road was closed off and the protestors (around 300) who managed to get to the Police Station were threatened and three people were arrested and allegedly held hostage forcing the Committee that organised this protest to call-it off and send the protestors home. One of those arrested and later released was Abbas Omran, a member of the Solidarity Committee for Detainees of Consciounce. Panic, fear, confusion. Is this really something you would want reported on Aljazeera and the international media? Are these arrests really worth the damage it is doing to Bahrain's reputation? Has anyone figured out Bahrain's Police Force demonstration-control policy? Someone, anyone?

All in all, I think the message of the protest got through as it seems not only were the authorities anticipating it but they took extensive pre-emptive action to what would have been a perfectly civilised peaceful protest. I think the Committee took the correct decision in dispersing the crowds as the security forces didn't seem to be messing around, and they're record of using force to clampdown on protestors isnt too good.

Lets just hope the three are released this Sunday for everyone's sake.

I'm sure Chan'ad will provide some photos soon and I look forward to hearing his account.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Bystander, Activist or Leader?

which one are you?

... then you wonder why the winds of change are westerly.

Alwasat reported today that the 3 detained website moderators are due to appear before the General Prosecutor this Sunday where they will be either officially charged, detained for longer (maybe another 45 days) or released.

Meanwhile, it seems their incarceration isnt a very pleasant experience. Ok no one expects a 5 star hospitality service, this isn't the UK where you can play snooker all day or do a distance-learning course and leave prison with a PhD at taxpayers expense. No this is Bahrain, where you're not even allowed pen and paper, and cockroaches are man's best friend. Seriously, you can have amazing fun with cockroaches, you feed it and feed it till it gets humungus and ready to enter the dreaded ring to face its opponent that you're cellmate has been breeding for the last week. Then watch the battle of the cockroaches ensue to see who can bite the other's head first. Try it, it's very entertaining, besides the loser gets to become that day's delectable pre-dinner snack. Just make sure you tie a string round the neck of the winner so it doesnt go wondering off at night.

Anyway, will Abdulemam and co. be detained further, arrested or released? Your guess is as good as mine. But one thing, if there is a good turnout at tomorrow night's protest, this will put direct pressure on the authorities to release them. My sources tell me that the most probable outcome is that they will be detained for another 45 days. This would be seriously outrageous.

I urge all of you who are in Bahrain to go to the protest that is going to be held outside Hoora Police Station tomorrow night at 8pm. Cover your face if you don't want your identity revealed, wear a fancy dress costume or whatever, just try and get as many friends as you can and head down there.

The colour orange has been chosen by the campaigners to reflect the near critical level of danger to freedoms that these arrests signify:

Are you going to wait till it gets Red before you decide to do something?

Hoora Police Station, 8pm, 10th March 2005

What would Jesus do?

Our moral compass sometimes goes haywire and has difficulty finding north. One day I was chatting to a friend, and they suggested taking the What would Jesus do? approach. The idea goes like this; whenever your faced with a moral decision, whether it is to offer your seat to a pensioner or to park in a disabled-only bay, then always ask yourself, What would Jesus do?

The other day, after I bought something from a store, I realized that the lady had given me too much change just after i had left. I was standing there in the street thinking, should I go back or should I go by myself lunch? Terrible terrible dilemma as you can imagine. My conscious was in turmoil as it grappled with the difficult choice that had to be made.

So I asked myself, What would Jesus do? I figured Jesus would call up his mother Mary to seek advice. So I called my mother up. My mother said just give the money to charity but whatever you do don't take it back to the store cos it is American you damn fool of a girl you shouldn't be shopping there in the first place. Hmmm I thought to myself, I don't think Jesus is anti-american, not with all those evangelicals there.

I'm sure Jesus would look for a second opinion. So I called my cousin up. My cousin said that he read a fatwa by Fadlallah somewhere that said you should take the money back to the place of origin as the money ultimately still belongs to them and they have simply 'misplaced' it. Jesus would have agreed with Fadlallah on this one i'm sure. Jesus would have probably looked even deeper at the issue and considered the person who made the mistake of giving the extra change - the amateur cashier girl who would stand accused of pinching the money out of the till if the accounts didn't add up at the close of day. That's exactly what Jesus would do I thought to myself. He would definitely look at the human suffering outcome of this.

I walk back into the store and asked to see the manager. "Hi, I just bought something and I think I got given extra change, I just thought i'd return it just in case someone gets into trouble". The woman looked very perplexed, she didn't know what to do, "Oh, its the first time anyone has ever done that, let me go check". It was as if i'd just told her that her skirt was stuck in her panties or something. She goes away and comes back a few minutes later and says "well, the electronic tills seem to add up, I suggest you go and have lunch on us!".

Thanks Jesus. Next moral dilemma, should I open an islamic banking account? What would Jesus do?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Sistani for Nobel Peace Prize

Apparantly a bunch of Iraqi Christians want to nominate Sistani for Nobel Peace Prize and have launched an online petition.

The majority of Iraqis i've spoken to feel that Sistani has played a crucial role in stabilising Iraq under difficult circumstances, uniting the country, and blessing the elections, giving a glimmer of hope to the millions who have suffered enough. So he gets my vote on the political front. Another way of looking at it, who else in the Middle-East deserves a Nobel peace prize?

Monday, March 07, 2005

تلك الوجوه عليها الدود تقتتلو

Almotawakil (Abbasid sultan), in a state of drunkeness ordered his men to bring Imam alHadi, one of the grandchildren of the Prophet, to his palace. In trying to humiliate the Imam, he ordered him to 'sing'. The Imam recited the following famous verses:

أين الملوك وأبناء الملوك ومن *** قادو الجيوش ألا يا بأس ما فعلو
باتو على قلل الأجبال تحرسهم *** غلب الرجال فلم تنفعهم القللو
واستنزلو من بعد عز عن معاقلهم *** واسكنو حفرا يا بأس ما نزلو
ناداهم صارخ من بعد دفنهم *** اين الاسرة والتيجان و الحللو
اين الوجوه التي كانت منعمتاً *** من دونها تظرب الاستار والكللو
فأفصح القبر عنهم حين ساألهم *** تلك الوجوه عليها الدود تقتتلو
قد طال ما أكلو يوماً وما شربو *** فأصبحو بعد ذلك الاكل قد أكلو
وطال ما ادخرو الاموال واختزنو *** فخلفوها الى الوراث و انتقلو

Still rings fresh today, no?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Pimps in action

Since i'm on a ranting roll this week what with the arrests and all, I couldn't resist one more... I have to get the frustration off my chest somehow...

Just as thousands of unemployed people holding bread take to the streets in protest, our venerable Minister of Labour Affairs, is part of a 12-pimp delegation to the UN in Geneva to defend the Bahraini government in ratifying elimination of racial discrimination conventions. That's right, along with all the other highest ranking officials perfectly fluent in english, he stood up there in front of the panel of 18 judges to state categorically that Bahrain has not witnessed any form of discrimination neither in the past or in the present time!! This is the same man who reportedly stated in private as a joke that sectarian discrimination stands at 200%. From the UN premliminary report:

The delegation pronounced that in Bahrain there was no such thing as racism; the people of Bahrain, numbering approximately 500,000, had four or five basic origins. Shiites of Iranian origin represented 8 per cent of the population and many of them held high professional positions in society. Shiites, Sunnis and Bidoons among others were treated equally in all manners.

Have these people no shame!!! He really couldnt have been more subtle in lying if he tried huh? The government sends one of its token shia ministers to go and deny anti-shia discrimination by the government. How sly. One words describes this man: muflis. I wouldn't believe anything he says, he's gone past the stage of redeeming his reputation as the biggest sycophant on the land.

Discrimination and sectarian policy is the cancer eating away at Bahraini society. Its a fact of everyday life. I would even go to the extent of calling it covert apartheid. When you apply for a job, you can expect to be asked the question "are you shia or sunni" if it is not too clear from your name. Merit, credentials, experience, no the most important criteria when applying through the front door in certain organizations or ministries is your sect.

Although the shia represent two-thirds of the population (from a BCHR report):
-they occupy 18% of the highest ranking public offices
-out of 47 ministerial and deputy ministerial position, the shia occupied 10 ie 21%. No shia in the interior, foreign, defence, security and justice ministries.
- out of 64 employees in the General Prosecutor's office, only 4 are shia ie 6%.
-in the back offices of the Shura council, out of 56 offices, 13 (ie 20%) are occupied by shia. Out of these 13, 6 out of these are drivers!! It doesn't get that much better for the elected council- out of 108 positions, 39 are occupied by shia. Noting that none occupy decision-making roles, the roles represented by shia are driver, cleaner, technicians, clerks.
-Shias not allowed to own land in Riffa.
-unemployment among the shia stands at 40%.

The numbers are even worse for women. These are just quick statistics, you can look at discrimination through many different dimensions, education, pay, unemployment, government projects and budget distribution, proportionate representation in government.

I truly believe that it is this policy of sectarian discrimination that fuels social tension between the sects. If I know that one social grouping is at an advantage purely because of the sect they ascribe to, then this will naturally fuel antagonism and social perceptions will come to adopt this sectarian looking glass, filtering down society to the level of children in the playground.

So the first step in ending sectarianism, is stopping the policy of STATE endorsed discrimination, then look at tackling social sectarianism through education and awareness only after the first step is implemented. Otherwise what's the point in chanting big rhetorical slogans of one people one country, when in actual fact you don't want those from the largest social grouping even serving in your armed forces or police force. This issue needs to be tackled from the TOP. Unfortunately following the performance in Geneva, the TOP is still totally denying the problem.

Like D. Mosawi stated in his editorial today, we're still waiting for the day where we will see Lance Corporal Jafar Qadami or Abdulhussain Satrawi (typical shia names), serve in armed forces.

Check out Chan'ad for more.

PS I received a message through a friend this morning, Abdulemam sends his regards and says thanks for the support. Here's a private joke. How do you annoy three muslim men in a prison cell? Throw a bunch of drunks off exhibition road in there :)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Emperor's New Clothes

Remember the fairytale story of the Emporer New Clothes? Where the Emporer was walking around naked as two rogues apparantly conned him into believing that he was wearing a garment made from special silk that cannot be seen by stupid and unfit people. Everyone complemented the Emperor on his 'beautiful' garment even though they couldn't see it in fear of being called a dunce. Then as the Emporer was walking in a procession a child shouted out "But he has nothing on!". The Emporer new it was true but had to keep up the pretence.

That story was always one of my favourites as a kid...imagining the Emporer walking round naked made me laugh... hahaha now it makes me laugh even more when I apply it to Bahrain. Who is the Emporer? and who is the child? Read article below by Dr. Abdulhadi Khalaf, former MP in the seventies, Professor of Sociology:

في الذكرى المئوية الثانية لهانز كريستيان أندرسن :
أهي محنة الأخ علي عبد الإمام أم هي ثياب القيصر الجديدة

يحتفل الدنماركيون , و آخرون من محبي الأدب و خاصة أدب الأطفال , هذا العام بالذكرى المئوية الثانية على ولادة هانز كريستيان أندرسن .
و لهانز كريستيان أندرسن مئات القصص و أعمال أدبية أخرى و من بين ما له قصة ( ثياب القيصر الجديدة ) و هي قصة أطفال مشـــهورة قرأناها بالعربية صغاراً . و لعلها موجودة في الأسواق في البحرين .....إن لم يمنعها الرقيب.
أقول الحق لكم إنني لم أعرف القيمة الحقيقية لقصة ثياب القيصر الجديدة إلا بعد الإعلان عن المشـــروع الإصلاحي في البحريْن و ما تبعه من تراجعات و ما رافقه من بهرجة و زفيف و تطبيل و و بعد ما خلّفة من حســـرة في قلوب الكثيرين , من أمثالي , ممن صدّقوا ســالفة المشـــروع الإصلاحي , وقتها , أو على الأقل وضعوا بعض الأمل فيها.
يعيد هانز كريستيان أندرسن في " ثياب القيصر الجديدة " حكاية تتكرر في كل أجواء النفاق و في كل حفلات التطبيل في كل الحقب التاريخية و في كل المناطق الجغرافية....... إذ تحكي القصة قصة ملك إســـتمتع بمديح المادحين وهم يكيلون المديح له يمناسبة إرتدائه حلة جديدة... و شــجعهم , باالعطايا, على إطناب مدح روعة ملابســـه الجديدة.....و لكثرة المديح و كثرة المادحين صدّق الملك ما يقال.
أعطى المديح المبالغ فيه للملك ثقة عالية بأناقته و إعتداداً بمظهره.... رغم إنه هو نفســـه يعرف الحقيقة ...و يعرف إن الأمر لا يعدو إن يكون تهيؤات.......إلا إنه بدأ يتصرف كمن يصدق ما يقال...........بل و بدأ يطالب جميع من يقابله بتكرار ذلك المديح.... هذا إلى قيّض الله أن يتســلل طفلٌ من بين الحشـــود المتجمهرة المبهورة بملابس القيصر الجديدة ....ولكن الطفل , ببراءة من لا مصلحة له , لا يرى ملابس جديدة على جســـد الملك....بل يراه عارياً...و حينها يصرخ الطفل إن الملك عارٍ و إن لا ملابس عليْه ....لا جديدة و لا قديمة...............

أقولُ , ما أحوجنا إلى براءة الأطفال و إلى التزود بها و ما أكبر من يتعلم من جرأة هؤلاء و فصاحتهم . رحم الله هانز كريستيان أندرسن و فكّ محنة الأخ علي عبد الإمام و محنة البلاد و العباد فيها

د. عبدالهادي خلف
لوند , 2 مارس 2005

Its meaning is transferred from the original story to cover anything that is promoted as an innovation or a reform but, on examination, proves to be nothing at all. Says it all about the Arab world, no?

Friday, March 04, 2005

'Hate websites', editorials, Emoodz

MANAMA: The Bahrain government is planning to block Internet sites inciting hatred against prominent figures, ministers and leading officials, sources revealed last night. Batelco keeps blocking such sites from time to time for spreading rumours and hatred against the government. GDN

I actually think this could be a good first step - acknowledgement that 'hate' exists. Lets not kid ourselves here, government policy is one reason for this 'hate', the betrayal felt after the King backtracked on his promise for the return of the 1973 constitution in 2002 and the LEGACY of the State Security Law era that lasted for 25 years.You're not going to see any posters of the King hung anywhere near my forlorn village in the near future unfortunately.

Whichever way that comment maybe perceived, my unbalanced views and politically insensitive remarks would put this blog as an 'ideal candidate' for Batelco's 'Hate website' list if not for an arrest warrant. Im confident the latter option would not be used in my case - i'm far too well-dressed and a beard is simply not part of my attire! However assuming some bored Batelco employee does happen to stumble onto this site, then I just want to say that I won't be bothering with proxies enjoy the blog while you can!

On another front(1), anyone noticed the uncanny silence of the editorials in the local media? The press law seems to have these editors shivering in their pants already, after they were taken to court last time too. What was the outcome of the jamri case? Out of court settlement? Funny how some things get dusted under the carpet with a wink and a nod. Journalists challenging boundaries? They wouldn't be journalists if they did in this part of the world.

From Scribbles that quivered a country

On another front(2), i'd like to take an opportunity to introduce a new blogger to the scene. How wonderful of him to choose this time to blog, just as some others were thinking of stopping! Emoodz says:

Not once had I doubted that my country will try to control my mind, not once had I doubted that I need to watch out what I think nor write online or off. Not once had I doubted that today, anyone and everyone who doesn’t agree with the government is a criminal that violates god knows how many constitutions.

Laws that were put to look good, yet ensure gaps to the prosecutors and hence allowing close and somewhat tight control whenever the push comes to shove. It was all rather obvious since the events of the 14th of February. A date that everyone in this country somehow managed to overlook, a date where the people of the entire country were fooled.

He asks why in a time were crime is rife, resources are still being wasted on cases concerning freedom of speech. Well, my answer is that the Ministry of Interior, Bahrain's Big Brother is still in full-force, the same policies, the same twisted people, spies, torturers working away at documenting every step and every word uttered. He may hide in the shadows at times, but he makes himself only too visible at times like the present. This is the crucial ministry that should be abolished if the King's reforms are to be given an incling of credance. No, instead, officials in this god-forsaken ministry that has only been good at instilling fear in the people, have been PROMOTED, given bonuses, and PROTECTED under law 56!!

It is high-ranking official from the 'da5iliya' (interior ministry) that are questioning Abdulemam and co. right now.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Free Ali Blog

Chan'ad has set up a centralised site all about the three arrests, which you can find if you click on the button below:

Desert Island Boy has also provided a letter template that can be used to correspond and highlight the arrests to anyone who may help, NGOs, human rights.

Please visit the site regularly for further information.

The electronic forum that shook the Royal throne!

I read that title in an article posted on Bahrainonline in Arabic (موقع الكتروني يهز العرش الملكي). At first I thought this may have been a bit of an over-statement. However, when you look at the charges posited against the Bahrainonline managers of defaming the royal entity, inciting hatred and destabilizing national security, the charges in themselves render support for the above statement! The nature of these charges would lead you to think that Abdulemam and co. are accused of some sort of coup de'etat or armed warfare. No, these charges are referring to the power of the internet in spreading the WORD. This then also says two things, either the forum is very powerful or the throne is very weak. Dare I say it, does the King feel threatened by a few nerds behind a computer screen?

This leads one to ponder the meaning of a constitutional monarchy that Bahrain is supposed to be. Obviously there are two sides to this term "constitution" and "monarch". I view the entire political conflict that is going on at the moment as the lack of a pragmatic definition of both of these terms. We know what they mean in theory, but in practice, questions remain, what constitution- 1973 or 2002? What is the role of the monarch? A monarch is not supposed to govern and the ruling family shouldn't hold any seats in government. The constitution states that the King is "a venerable being that cannot be questioned" (Section 33, 2002 constitution "أن الملك رأس الدولة والممثل الأسمى لها ،ذاته مصونة لا تمس وهو الحامي الأمين للدين والوطن " ) can exercise his powers through his ministers, hence the King also has executive powers. Holding these ministers accountable would then amount to defaming the royal entity.

The charge of defaming the royal entity should NOT be taken lightly in this case. This is an admittance by the "establishment" itself that it regards a certain section of its nation (assuming popular support for those arrested) as defaming its monarch- the sacred cow. Splashing this all over the local and international media does not bode well for the King and his reputation, and is an acknowledgment of his loss of popularity among the people since the national referendum - not something you want to publicize.

So why prosecute on the charge of defaming the royal entity and focusing on the criticisms made against the King on the forum when the other 4 charges may have sufficed? Is it to send a strong message to Bahrainis that draws a red line at criticizing the King and entrenching the notion of a monarchial sacred cow in the psyche of the populace and the unconditional obedience of the people? Are the three men paying the price of this message and being used as scapegoats for setting this precedent? Winds of change referred to the Platonian concept "Guardianship" that this whole debacle reeks of.

Yes freedom of expression and human rights are important, but these are by-products of a democratic system.

I believe these arrests, the bitch-fighting between the authorities and the political societies, and the Khawaja affairs are attempts both by the Opposition and the government/King/Royal family in defining the meaning of a constitutional monarchy and reconciling each parties political definition of it. The important question is, is anyone learning any lessons from this? Is this a vicious circle? Are we getting anywhere?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

See evil, hear evil, WRITE no evil

My sources tell me that around 30 names are on the police list of people to be summoned. The investigation is not as light as I thought, and now I can understand why they want to keep them in for 15 days. They are interrogated from 10-6 everyday, using the kind of tedious questioning that leaves them exhausted. Apparantly, the police have thousands of pages of printouts of every single article that has ever criticized the King on the site over the past few years. They are even trying to find out the identities of those who write behind pseudonyms and their emails. Although the charges are clear now, as elaborated by Bahraini Blog, under the Press law at least, its not difficult to see that even the blog your reading could be indicted. See comment made by Bahraini By Nature below:
Press Law section 68.
Without prejudice to any stricter penalty provided for in the law of Penalties or any other law, a penalty of no less than six months imprisonment shall be imposed on publishing what contains one of the following acts:

B- Questioning the king by criticism or directing blame to him for any act or acts of the government.

This whole debacle has been swallowing up my thoughts over the past few days and never thought i'd turn into a full-time campaigner. Call me a pessimist, but I just have this gut feeling that his majesty has over-used his gracious royal decrees and that the guys face a custodial sentence this time round. They're strong and defiant men and will take whatever they get but somehow I'm saddened by the fact that they really have sacrificed their studies, mohammed and hussain will probably miss out this academic year, and one wonders if abdulemam will have a job to go back to. Meanwhile, many people in fear, take the ostrich approach and hope "it'll blow over".

Many people have been emailing asking for contacts in Bahrain. Here are a few useful ones:

Ahmed Arrayadh, head of the defence team: +97339664308
Abbas Omran, member of the Committee for the support of Bahraini prisoners of conscience, +97339875458

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Another website manager has been summonded before the General Prosecutor tomorrow. And further websites have been blocked: and (although they missed a few other domains which I will not mention just in case the big bad monster is reading-BBM). Seems like it isnt just a BahrainOnline vendetta now, BBM has it's eyes set further.

A good question that needs to be asked is why has BBM decided to clampdown on the internet now? Is it to detract attention from the Committee set to implement the proposals of the Constitutional Conference which met a few weeks back? Or is it to hose down the furore enraging Samira Rajab's tactless comments? More likely the former. If anything though, this is only more likely to raise the calls for the return of the 1973 constitution that Bahrainis have been calling for since 1975, which was again hijacked by the King in 2002.

Handcuffed and smiling

Hussain Yousif and Mohammed Mosawi appearing before the General Prosecutor today and will be held for 15 days questioning. This leads you to wonder, how many questions can u ask in 15 days??!? Boy I could write my entire autobiography in that time. Meanwhile it is reported that Abdulemam is still being interrogated and is very ill. Maybe its the sheesha-withdrawel symptoms digging in already.

At time where our country needed strong truth and reconciliation following the black era of the nineties, here is the government yet again fueling further hatred for itself. After trying to infiltrate it, then competing with it, now its using all its force to close the forum down. As someone suggested, had the King agreed to an online interview on BahrainOnline, he may have swayed reader views for his benefit.He really needs to sack his domestic PR campaigner. I mean how could he do this after an odious speech on peace, security an stability a few days ago, who is he kidding!

International coverage is picking up:

Good articles on Gulf News, this has an interview with a lawyer. Abdulla Hashim states that the charges the guys are accused of can carry up to 20 years in Jail. In addition, a good article in Reporters Without Borders . Story has also been reported by Al-Jazeera and Reuters. A BBC Radio Five interview with Curt Hopkins of the Committee for the Protection of Bloggers can be heard here (skip to 1:44:00)

A hard choice

Our boys, Ali, Mohammed and Hussain will be forced to face a difficult choice: close, wipe out the database or face SEVERE consequences. Will they stand by their principles and rights to free speech and forsake their future? This is the choice they are facing right now in that interrogation room.

Ali was the visionary of this project, Mohammed was the brains, Hussain was the voice. They're identities were never secret. Which one will break under pressure? I'm sure they now realise this is no joke and the government is DEAD serious on closing this site down. How long can it go on clamping down on its people - banning foreign participants to conferences, arresting people collecting signatures for a petition, threatening the closure of political societies, arresting a human rights activist, living on royal whims, blocking websites and now this.

Giving-in was never a choice. Thats what one of them last said to me.

Hussain Yousif

Thanks to the Committee for the Protection of Bloggers, Muscati, VillageVoice, Buzzmachine, Jowhara's Chamber, Kuwait Unplugged, NatashaTynes as well as all the other Bahraini bloggers for raising this in your blogs. What else can we do? How do we know this isnt just some blogger frenzy and that the authorities are hearing this??

I leave you with the perfect quote by Global Soul:

People who are being detained, questioned, and imprisoned for practicing a fundamental human right: EXPRESSION are in fact sending a stronger message through their ordeal…a message that strengthens the voice of those who were already active…and awakens those who were asleep.