Wednesday, November 29, 2006"In a dictatorship you can't speak. In a democracy you can speak," said Minister of Information Mohammed Abdul Ghaffar Abdulla.
He forgot to add "In a dictatorship I [MoI] have a job. In a democracy I don't have a job".
Sunday, November 26, 2006The elections in Bahrain have received relatively good coverage and overall noted the skepticism and distrust over the whole process due largely to the recent Bandargate scandal. "Playing by unfair rules"as the Economist aptly describes the elections. Nevertheless, you are left to wonder at times whether reporters have accidently used an Iraq or Lebanon quick template, not just for their nauseating emphasis on sectarianism where every other word is Shia or Sunni, but we also had reports of "civil war", "Muqtada al-Sadr" appearances, harbingers of potential "Shia uprising" and even plots of ethnic "cleansing". Certainly the regional situation isn't a bunch of roses, and you realise how tension can spillover indirectly from your unruly neighbours. Lebanon - Bahrain is not, however much the media would like to play up Saudi or Iranian influence on the country. It is American influence on the ruling family which determines our political course more than anything, the story ad nauseum repeats itself across the ME.
Others have preferred to attribute Bahrain's "blossoming" situation to the initiative of our "reclusive" King. 'Blossoming' maybe just slightly exaggerated, i'd prefer the word "buggered", however 'reclusive' is an unintentionally fair description - so reclusive he is in fact that he has only ONCE ever paid visit to most of the unworthy villages in a tour of the country that covered the best part of 4 kilometres from his palace. The latter being the subject of this Financial Times article; Google's gaze over palace wall spurs equality drive in Bahrain.
“Some of the palaces take up more space than three or four villages nearby and block access to the sea for fishermen. People knew this already. But they never saw it. All they saw were the surrounding walls,” said Mr Yousif, who is seen in Bahrain as the grandfather of its blogging community." Apparantly, "80 per cent of the island has been carved up between royals and other private landlords, while much of the rest of the population faces an acute housing shortage."
(An aside, I assure you that outside the geographic boundaries of Bahrain, namely in Geneva, London or Nice, reclusiveness is not a prevalent characeteristic of HH). The briefly blocked Google Earth and other "popular websites, such as the occasionally banned forum Bahrain Online, have a larger readership than any of the country's newspapers, and the young population is adept at using proxy sites to bypass official blocks." notes the Economist Intelligence Unit in Bahrain Politicals: Adversarial which on the bandergate scandal and subsequent gagging order states;
...the government has resorted to a clampdown on public discussion of Bandargate. The High Criminal Court has banned any reporting related to the report while Dr al-Bandar awaits trial, and the information ministry subsequently blocked some 20 websites (including personal blogs) that had discussed the case. In addition, two Haq activists were arrested in early November for allegedly possessing and planning to distribute leaflets encouraging Bahrainis to boycott the vote.Let us not forget that there are prisoners of conscious still dwelling in Bahraini jails while this raucus ensues.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006three dead Bahraini children used "candles to light the flat, as the family could not afford electricity."
يا وطن الأغنياء. يا وطن النفط. يا وطن الطبّالة والسحّارة وتاج الملك
ألهذا الحد أنت مفلس،
ألهذا الحد أنت حقير!؟.
- يا وطن وزارة
ثمة سؤال يؤرّقني منذ طفولتي:
- هل يدفع الملك
فاتورة الكهرباء الشهرية؟.
لم يدفعوا أجرة الفاتورة
أشرفُ منكم أطفال المنامة،
من كل فواتيركم،
اشرف من انتخاباتكم، من سائس خيل الوزير، من الوزير
نفسه ومن الوزارة
وأشرف من علمكم ونشيدكم الوطني
From Madas Ayatallah blog who asks the pertinent question, does the King pay his own electricity bill?
Well the answer is No, and not because he can't afford it.
Two major issues need to be mentioned in your coverage. Firstly, the arrest of two political activists on charges of printing material criticizing the regime and the Bandargate scandal.
Should you require more information and contact help in Bahrain. Email me on
It is astonishing if not oxymoronic that so-called democratic elections are held at a time when innocent political activists are jailed, and a string of royal totalitarian edicts the latest of which is today's ban on worker's strikes virtually everywhere except your backyard.
MANAMA: Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa yesterday issued an edict banning strikes at vital facilities.
Striking or calling for one at these locations are forbidden as they 'may disturb national security and disrupt people's daily course of lives'.
Establishments include security, civil defence, airports, seaports, hospitals, health centres and pharmacies.
The ban also applies to all means of transport involving people or merchandise, telecommunications, electricity, water, bakeries, educational establishments and oil and gas facilities.
I guess Bahrain is lucky that it doesn't have an underground tube system where strikes frequently occur bringing one of the biggest world cities to a standstill. Where protesting on a daily basis outside the Houses of Parliament in London, is legal, however much Tony Blair hates it. In fact, earlier this year, university staff in nearly all British universities earlier this year held an assessment strike for months. Industrial action and unionisation are the cornerstones of a democracy, however inconvenient.
Reportedly, an infamous minister once told Hamad, "take the constitution and tailor it to your size". That is what we ended up having, a deMOCKracy tailored and fitted to Alkhalifa's interests. Just so nice and convenient, is it not?
Sunday, November 19, 2006
The legend who sang Lady d'Arbanville, Peace Train and Father and Son in the days where music and lyrics were meaningful and cogent...returns after 30 years of religious metamorphosis, older but still with the same great voice...await the new album, An Other Cup.
"Did talk of sure but gradual reform, mean changing things for the better, or a re-form, old ways taking another shape?
When it was said that the most beautiful of days are yet ahead of us, who were the “us” therein? The Riffa-based lot only or the dwellers of towns and villages as well?"
Beside the dextrous use of vocabulary, fellow Bahraini blogger Manama Republic masters the use of metaphor and Irony like no other (even the title of the blog carries deeper connotations). The previous quote is intended to highlight the irony between promises and the disappointing eventualities. I am no literary critic or english lit graduate, but I have come to discern the power of language in engaging the reader and conveying a message as a true art-form. The subtle wit is carried in every word and sentence structure. For example in coining terms such as "the dignity tax" or describing the soul of a man matching his "white thoub".
I am always left in wonderment and a sense of satisfaction reading the blog, "very nicely put", or why didn't I think of it like that. There is not much more left to comment on any particular issue. It is thoughtful "truth-seeking" at its very best-whilst he finds the nuances, most other blogs and I, report the superficialities in comparison.
On the eve of Halloween, he asked,
"Were jails empty of political detainees a trick or a treat?The rhetorical and situational use of irony here is extremely poignant, has this King of ours actually given or taken away?
Were homes unbroken into in the middle of the night trick or treat?
Was the most favourite mask, the Charter, trick or treat?
Was the top performing costume, the Reforming Democrat, trick or treat?"