Thursday, May 03, 2012

Bahrain Update

From Angry Arab chief Bahrain correspondent: "One more article.. have had lots of coffee and I can't sleep
You know this article is going to be bad from the first sentence. He was paid by the government to come. No wonder he loves them. It gets even better when you move to paragraph three where he talks about stopping by riyadh.
The guy is of course an idiot who doesn't know what he's talking about.
1. He greatly exaggerates the role of Sh. Isa Qasim (apart from politics). First of all to make it very clear - not all of the practicing shia of Bahrain follow him for religious rulings (in fact - a lot of people criticize him because they say he didn't reach the level of scholarship in the hawza that your supposed to get to have that title - I'm not really clear on this unfortunately but you know what I'm talking about right?). In fact none of the ones that I know do. There's sistani, fadhallah is very popular, lets not forget the shirazis. I'm no expert and somehow all the names aren't popping up my head but I'm sure you can think of a few.
2. A lot of Isa Qassim's popularity (and when I say popularity I'm not talking about the protest movement but the day to day) is village politics. Isa Qasim is from AlDuraz (a village in Bahrain). The last famous religious leader in Bahrain was AbdulAmeer AlJamri who is from Bani Jamra. There are a lot of rivalries between the two villages.
3. Isa Qassim was never part of the protest movement in the beginning. Many of the feb. 14 people don't like him. He came really late into the picture (so did alwefaq.. by the way Isa Qassim is technically not part of alwefaq but those lines are really blurry). He also was never part of the protests in the 90s. I find it hilarious that he's reducing the entire protest movement to one man that wasn't part of it from the beginning. He has the audacity to reduce the protestors Isa Qasim supporters as if people sacrificed everything because they want to show their love for isa qasim...come on.. Like I said before, if the protest movement has a leader its Nabil Rajab. Now that man in influential.
3. He seems to think that Isa Qassim is more on the radical side. If anything the regime should be thanking him since like the opposition - he is a moderating influence. Also I find it interesting that people I talked to who believe in overthrowing the regime can't stand him. In fact I was really shocked at how much.
4. Did he ever listen to his speeches? Guess not since Ed Hussain probably [does not] knows arabic. They are all about peace and brotherhood between all bahrainis and all that jazz. He did lose his temper once but that was an anomoly (and when I say lose his temper I use it in a very loosly since since the man if very soft spoken). It was in after this woman got attacked I believe and so in his khutba he said that if a woman is attacked you should defend her (or something like that- very misogynistic if you ask me but thats another discussion all together). Some idiotic western journalists assumed thats thats why the protest movement (which is still largely peaceful) became more violent. Thats hilarious. Some of the protestors had been threatening to use violence for months. You only had to go to the popular chat rooms to see the arguments (violence vs. nonviolence - which is better). You'd think the regime's continued crackdown is the reason for them becoming more violent but no.. apparently its a one liner by Isa Qasim. But of course those journalists don't read arabic and like simple stories. That part of the speech was one sentence and then he went back to his usual very soft tone. So I doubt these molotov cocktail throwers he's talking about were inspired by Isa Qasim.
5. He says that Isa Qasim is intolerant of shias with divergent views. Of course here he makes the mistake of translating the uprising as to a simple conflict between sunnis and shia. Ed Hussain seems to think that the reason these MPs are hated are because they are shia who are pro-government and chose to run for elections. No you idiot - no one in the parliament is liked because the MPs in the parliament are naturally supporters of the regime and many are idiots who won by default (noone was running against them). Of course now there's one MP that has been saying crazy things (for an MP - so of course someone tried to assassinate him but thats another story all together.
6. Now why does Ed Hussain assume that the ayatollah as he calls him is less democratic than the prince? I mean the prince is a prince. Monarchies are not exactly synonomous with democracies unless you're a european queen who spends her time cutting ribbons.
7. Why is it when it comes to bahrain we need reform and not revolution but with other countries a revolution is okay (and an armed one mind you - and for some reason when a bahrain throws a molotov cocktail everyone goes crazy). Of course bahrainis sit together all the time and debate which is better and which should be the goal of the movement - what is more realistic etc. But what I want to know is why the entire world decided that for bahrainis trying to overthrow the monarchy is plain wrong? Also I take issue with the choice of the world evolution. I mean evolution took millions of years. Sorry I can't wait that long.
8. Now its amusing how he only talks about the crown prince and no one else. Who cares about the crown prince? Some people think he's a decent person (definitely no democrat but no crazy killer either) and others can't stand him. But really - who cares. He has no power what so ever. He lost everything he once had. Everything he controlled has been now taken away from him - mumtalakat (bahrain's sovereign wealth fund), the economic development board, everything.
9. He spoke to a shia police official who said that he does not want bahrain to be ruled by iranian clerics. Here he goes with the regime's line that this is an iranian inspired uprising when in fact bahrainis were protesting long before the islamic republic can into existence and the demands have always been the exact same (of course with the regime's crazy crackdown the demands are now much higher - but the protest movement started with calling for the reinstatement of the 1973 constitution).
10. He talks about the language of shia sectarianism. What language? I haven't heard anything derogatory but I've heard shia being called the most disgusting names on tv: Safavids, majoos, rats (i remember the rats clearly because it was used by a friend - I still remember crying when I saw that friends facebook status), cockroaches, devil worshippers, worshippers of ali, rawafidh. I could go on and on. The only terms pro-regime people are called - are muwalah/loyalists and abadat al sulta/ or nitham - (slaves of the regime). You should turn on bahrain tv. You can hear the derogatory terms being used.
11. Of course I can go on and on with whats wrong. He seems to assume that the regime's violence has stopped, that the mass raids have stopped, that the torture in prison has stopped (bassiouni thinks this too but his friends in the UN would disagree), the excessive use of force to clampdown on demonstrators has stopped. So now his concern is only the attacks on the policeman. Well yes, its a sucky world - not everyone who is attacked is going to exercise restraint. You can't expect people who are shot at, tortured, arrested, tear gassed, fired from their jobs with no livelihood, subjected to military lockdown to not retaliate somehow. Thats just how it is.
12. On he calls the protestors rioters. That says it all.

Here's a great response to the article: